Did you ever notice, when you compliment a woman on her fitness (or beauty), often she’ll respond with something like, “Yes, but I still have a long way to go.” Or, “Yeah, but look at these flabby arms.” (Said while swinging her arm wildly to demonstrate). Why do we do that? Why can it be so difficult to receive a compliment?
“Many people would rather eat a broccoli-flavored Popsicle than be on the receiving end of a compliment. Receiving compliments – and also giving them – is hard when self-esteem has been injured. Low self-esteem tells us we’re not good enough. And we imagine that if we can see it, so can everyone else.” – Tina Gilbertson
I believe one of the most powerful daily practices we can implement is learning to give and receive compliments graciously. But I think there is a false belief that gets in our way. We believe we must be “either/or”, but we’re wrong. We can be both.
We can be healthy and fit, AND still have a long way to go.
We can look great, AND have flabby arms.
Where is it written that we cannot be both? I have learned it starts with myself. I was getting dressed to go out Friday night and put on a tank top and jeans. For about thirty seconds, I felt pretty fabulous. Then came the critique. “You’re showing too much arm.” “The shirt is too fitted”. One part of me was giving the compliment, and another part decided to reject and deflect it.
It is OK to feel good about yourself. Loving yourself right where you are is not going to make you give up on yourself. The opposite, actually. The better we feel about ourselves, the more likely we are to take care of ourselves.
So, what is the lie? There are a few:
Lie: I can’t celebrate myself right where I am. It’s not good enough.
Truth: You are already good enough, and can celebrate you right here, right now.
Lie: I can’t celebrate my fitness and health if I still have a way to go.
Truth: Every milestone, and every day of your health and fitness journey, can be celebrated.
Lie: If I accept myself, I won’t be motivated to keep going.
Truth: No one was ever criticized into changing. Lasting motivation comes from a place of love and acceptance.
Remember, practice daily. I enjoy my fitness journey so much more when it comes from a place of peace, not self-loathing. But it takes practice. If I think to myself, “I look pretty fabulous!” then I need to respond with, “Thank you”, not “WARNING: flabby arms!”
Once I can do that in the mirror, I can practice with the rest of the world. Then, when I hear, “You look great!” I will be able to say sincerely, “Thank you”, and know that it’s true. Even if I have a way to go, and even if my arms jiggle.
“You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” - Brené Brown