Learning To Accept Compliments
Yesterday, I wrote about how some friends had called me “an inspiration” and I took it to mean that they felt intensely sorry for me. Fortunately, my mom disagreed with my assessment and called me to tell me as much. She made me really think about it, and the truth of the matter is that I was projecting my own self-pity onto their statements.
It’s very hard, when I’m feeling bad about myself and am physically unwell, to accept compliments. Because I’m trapped in a mindset of low self-esteem and am feeling sad, I can’t believe any compliment would be sincere. Why? Because I’m feeling bad. And if I’m feeling bad, I must be bad, right? Wrong!
Confusing how you feel with how you actually are is one of the automatic negative thoughts that I learned to challenge while in therapy last year. It’s called Emotional Reasoning. Emotional reasoning is what occurs when we assume that because we feel a certain way, what we think/feel must be true. For example: I feel embarrassed so I must be an embarrassment.
Putting the “reason” back in Emotional Reasoning.
The only way to fight emotional reasoning is with rationality. You have to look at facts vs. feelings…
And the truth of the matter is that I have no good reason to feel like I’m anything less than awesome.
I have plenty of bad reasons — like the magical thinking that enables me to believe that I could have somehow avoided having MS and a seizure disorder if I had only done something differently in life. And that because I didn’t know to do that “thing” differently, I’ve brought the sadness and difficulty of MS and seizure disorder down on myself, and worse yet, I’ve forced my family and friends to deal with it with me. (Oh, look another ANT! Personalization. Blaming myself for something I can’t control. Moreover, I can’t force anyone to be supportive.)
Ooh, or the undeniable shame that I feel for being over-educated and unemployed. (ANT: Disqualifying the Positive.) Having a job isn’t what makes someone awesome, and even if it were, I have a job! I’m a homemaker. It just doesn’t pay cash.
If I’m going to allow myself to think like someone who can’t self-validate, I don’t have far to look for positive reinforcement. My friends and family are incredibly supportive. My husband is happy with me, and he doesn’t base his love for me on the things that I do or the money that I earn. I’m his chosen life companion, and I know that he deeply appreciates my efforts when it comes to keeping the house clean and making food happen when I’m feeling well enough.
What’s actually happening is that I’m putting too much stock into what I think. I’m a terrible bully to myself. I am pressuring myself to do more because I want to do more, and I believe that I can do more. And both of those are positive things. They’re not excuses for self-berating.
What this experience has taught me is that recently, I’m not spending enough time policing my thoughts. I’m letting the Automatic Negative Thoughts take the wheel, and I’m not meditating enough. I’m not questioning my inner voice for truth. I need to spend some time on Calm.com. It’s been way too long.