Dear Dr. Faizal,
I have a hard time accepting compliments. When I was young, my parents opted for scolding or unacknowledging me rather than complimenting. Now as an adult, I like positive feedback from my colleagues but now I’m very anxious. I often respond by praising them (which is sometimes unwelcomed). Afterwards, I think about the situation as a good experience. However, I still can’t get over my uncomfortableness when the situation arises.
– Just Take a Compliment
Dear Just Take a Compliment,
It is true that our environment shapes our personality. As children, we had no choice but to conform to what our parents expected of us. Some parents expect their children to excel by scolding them rather than complimenting them. This practice hurts children and prevents them from accepting themselves and developing a confident personality.
But as we grow up to be adults, we have the strength to choose the personality that serves us the best. As adults, we can choose to escape the confines of skeptical parental methods by nurturing our ‘inner child’ (a person’s true self, especially when regarded as damaged or concealed by negative childhood experiences) ourselves. For your inner child to gain confidence, and feel safe, she needs praise – from you.
A way to talk to and heal your inner child is using the Empty Chair Technique. To try this, sit down in a chair facing an empty chair. Close your eyes and imagine yourself as a child sitting in the vacant chair. Speak to your ‘little self.’ Share with her any regrets, disappointments, and so on, that you never had the opportunity to acknowledge. Then ask her for forgiveness for not being able to protect her from those who hurt her. Imagine that she is forgiving you. Try to ‘hear’ her words until you feel absolved of any guilt you may have harboured against yourself.
In closing this ‘session’ with your ‘little self,’ tell her that she has the power to change herself and live the life that she would like to live, giving priority to her desires and wishes. Let her know that she can see good in others and that she attracts only positive people. Assure her that she deserves to be happy and loved and that you will protect her.
One way to protect your ‘little self’ is overcoming feelings of anxiety. Louise Hay is a renowned metaphysical counsellor and her best-selling book (a manual helping people find self-esteem and self-love) titled You Can Heal Your Life, looks at the probable causes of many ailments and suggests affirmations for healing. According to Hay, a person dealing with anxiety is not trusting the flow and process of life. Hay’s recommends stating the following affirmation repeatedly until they feel better: “I love and approve of myself, and I trust the process of life. I am safe.”
I suggest you make several copies of this affirmation and place them everywhere you go throughout the day (your washroom, car, mirror, closet, and kitchen table, etc.). Recite this mantra until you believe it. Ultimately, by loving yourself, you’ll be able to appreciate and accept others loving you.