How much were you paid to say that?

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“I love your new haircut.”

“Thanks. I’ll never get it to look as good as my hairdresser does.”

“Great shoes!”

“Thanks. I’ve had them forever.”

For so long, I had a difficult time accepting compliments. I wasn’t able to simply say, “Thank you, I appreciate it,” or “Thanks, that means a lot,” or even just say the words, “Thank you.” I felt compelled to explain or excuse the compliment away. As if I wasn’t worthy of it.

Why?

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Like many people, it stemmed from my inner childhood voice. The one that looped over and over like a bad cassette tape. It didn’t matter that the tape was recorded decades ago, on technology so old it shouldn’t work anymore, yet it seemed to be doing its job just fine inside my brain.

Why hadn’t that tape worn thin and snapped yet? Because I was keeping it so well maintained, that's why. I played the criticisms over in my head so many times they never had time to collect dust.

The problem was I spent so much time preserving the cassettes of my memories that it didn’t occur to me that it was time for an upgrade. Time to rip out that black, infected film, and toss it in the garbage where it belonged.

Those cassettes could be replaced by what I now knew to be true about myself. I am worthy. I am enough. I am selfless. I am not what I was told when I was younger and to continue to think that am is a discredit to myself and all those around me: my children, my husband, my friends, my co-workers, my friends in recovery, etc.

So when something like this happens:        

“We love having you here so much, Elsie. You have such an upbeat personality.”

And I say, “How much were you paid to say that?” instead of, “Thank you. I appreciate that.”

I know I have some core recovery work to do. Better get to it, Elsie!

Do you accept compliments with grace or do you brush them off too?