Kids are great at sharing their accomplishments but how can adults be better at accepting compliments?

When Did We Stop Rooting for Ourselves?

This post originally appeared on my blog Painted Butterfly Studio on Sept 28th, 2010. I reread it this week and find that topic of accepting compliments and cheering for ourselves to be relevant. Kids are great at sharing their accomplishments but how can adults be better at accepting compliments?

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The Soccer Game

“At what point do we stop cheering?”

We were sitting on the sidelines watching our six year old soccer players celebrating after they’d just scored their uncontested sixth goal. The dad next to me posed the question. About 90 seconds later we got our answer when the seventh goal was scored. Parents didn’t cheer and just a small smattering of applause could be heard from our side of the field.

Later in the day, I got to thinking about that question.

“At what point do we stop cheering?”

Do we ever stop cheering? Or rather, should we ever stop cheering?

And I’m not just talking as parents, but just as adults?

“At what point do we stop cheering?”

Kids are great at sharing their accomplishments but how can adults be better at accepting compliments?

Shrugging Off Instead of Accepting Compliments

I was reading Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy this week. The section I happened upon was about how as adults we tend to downplay our accomplishments. We shoo away compliments and never really revel in them as we should. She suggested that we pull out our awards, something we’ve created, or anything that really makes us proud of ourselves and put them in a prominent place in our home.

Why, as adults, do we hide our light under a bushel? Why do we shrug off encouragements from others instead of just saying, “Thank you so much! I’m proud of it too!” This daily reminder of seeing visually what we have done should be a push towards what we can do.

I recall hearing about a baseball player who didn’t display any of his awards in his home. The announcer noted how humble the player was and that if you walked into his home you’d never have guessed he was a ball player.

This actually just seemed kind of sad to me. If this man was a sculptor or an artist, would he not decorate his home with a few of his own art pieces? Is it not appropriate because it wouldn’t be humble? Or even just to have an important plaque on the wall, or one special baseball on a shelf that was particularly meaningful, something that recognized his accomplishments? Nothing?!

I’m not talking about constantly tooting our own horn here to the point of rudeness or painting an entire mural on our living room wall with our likeness. But really think about why we stopped cheering…Because we didn’t want to come across to others as too confident? Because it might hurt someone else’s feelings? Because we’ve been taught as children to be humble and modest, that we shouldn’t be “too good”?

 

Kids Are Naturals at Complimenting Themselves

Now, back to the soccer game…7th goal was scored. The little boy who scored the goal had already scored 4 others in our game, but just the same he looked excitedly over to the sidelines for recognition. We put our hands together and clapped briefly and smiled back at him. He wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed in the least to have created such a lopsided score.

As we were leaving two players chattered boldly to each other, “We scored 7 and they didn’t have ANY!”

One of the moms said, “Shhh, not so loud”, to which one of the boys looked up at her and said, “Why?”

The unabashed pride of these six year olds was actually inspiring to me. Humility and modesty will come eventually, as it should. But at this age it’s refreshing to see the exuberance about each accomplishment. Whether it’s getting across the monkey bars without falling off, finishing an entire puzzle without help or scoring the final goal in a 7-0 game.

Kids are great at sharing their accomplishments but how can adults be better at accepting compliments?

Rooting Ourselves On

I’m going to root myself on. When someone pays me a compliment, I’m going to say a simple thank you and not follow it up with something that undermines the entire good thought (you know the kind, “That’s a pretty blouse!” and we say, “Yeah, too bad I’m so fat that’s too tight on me now” FROWN!). That completely diminishes the compliment (and is not very kind to the person complimenting you either). “Thank you” is the perfect reply to any compliment.

I’m going to make some pillow covers to put in the living room and if anyone compliments them, I’ll happily share that it’s my own handiwork. I will bravely admit that there are things that I’m really good at and I’m going to promise myself that I won’t be too shy or humble to admit it!

I hope that by my modeling this, my own children will pick up on the air of confidence and not be ashamed or embarrassed of their own accomplishments. Accepting compliments and sharing what you’re confident and strong about isn’t bragging, it’s knowing that you are worthy. Knowing your worth and can humbly accept praise is given to us by God. And that’s something to cheer about.

In what ways and areas of your life could you be more confident and assured? Please share with me below in the comments!

Kids are great at sharing their accomplishments but how can adults be better at accepting compliments?

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