I think it is safe to say that most of us struggle with seeing the positive in ourselves.
When others give us compliments, we are quick to dismiss them, simply saying they aren’t true or trying to talk ourselves down. Sometimes this happens with talents. “You have amazing style!” or “Your cakes are beautiful!” or “You are musically gifted!” becomes “Oh, this old thing? I just threw it on. I don’t know anything about style,” or “I could’ve done better, the icing isn’t perfect and the cake tastes dry,” or “I just play a little bit, I’m not as good as [insert name].”
We belittle ourselves all. the. time.
And we call it humility. But really we just don’t have confidence in ourselves.
While this happens a lot with outward talents, I think, unfortunately, we belittle ourselves more when it comes to actual qualities that define who we are.
Someone tells us we hospitable, we say we just hosted because we were asked.
Someone tells us we are trustworthy, we say we’re not and start thinking in our head about how we lied or gossiped earlier that day.
Someone tells us we are a protector, we say it’s a weakness.
Someone tells us we are empathetic, we say we are too emotional.
My point is that we have a hard time receiving the truth others tell us about ourselves.
I think it is way easier for us to accept a criticism of who we are than a compliment of who we are.
Why is this? Why can’t we understand that we were created the way we are for a specific reason, and God gave us these particular qualities to shine light and build His kingdom. Yes, maybe sometimes these qualities can cause us to stumble. But, for the most part, when others tell us qualities they see in us, we need to start simply accepting their compliments. Instead of firing back with a comeback, simple smile and say “thank you.” Then try to receive what they said and believe it as truth.
For three years I helped lead a community of young adults seeking to become disciples of Christ. A couple times of the years, we practiced doing exactly this – receiving the good things people saw in us. We sat in a circle, and one by one we each took a turn. The person being complimented had to sit and be still – we were not allowed to say anything after someone had given a compliment. We could smile and say thank you, but that was about it. Each person in the circle then went around and took a couple minutes to tell that person qualities that shine through them. You are radiant. You are a lover of people. You are trustworthy. You give others value. You bring others together. You are confident. You are creative. You are brave. You are transparent. You have an energetic and vivacious spirit. You are a leader.
It went on and on. It was easy to tell by the looks on everyone’s faces that is was difficult to simply receive what was being said and not combat it by tearing ourselves down.
It’s not prideful to know and embrace the qualities that make us shine. And it is not humility to tear ourselves down.
I encourage you to practice affirming character qualities in others this week, and to receive compliments others give you instead of giving a rebuttal.
Who am I? I am fiercely loyal, exceedingly trustworthy, a protector of my friends. I am emotional, empathetic, creative, and hospitable. I am constant. And I care.
I am who I am because God made me that way, and I will strive to see the positive in who I am instead of the negatives the Enemy puts in my head. And I pray you will, too.