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No. 

Not that one.

No.

Not that one either.

Compliment.

That’s the one.

But don’t worry.  I am a gutter dweller myself.  I would not have fared any better myself. but I do come to wonder why we treat compliments, like they are unwelcome curses.

Just try complimenting someone’s fashionably cut jacket.  Try complimenting them on how great they look.  Try telling them that they are funny, kind, thoughtful or loving, and you are sure to make them uncomfortable.

How come?

Why have we become so conditioned to reject anything nice, a stranger, or anyone close to us, might have to tell us?

Why do we run? 

Politely decline the compliment? 

Protest too much?

Not us. 

Not this old piece of stitched clothing.  That’s just good lighting.  Oh no.  There are far funnier people in the world.  I couldn’t.  Not me.  No way.  I’m not as kind as you think I am.  Oh, it was nothing.  Don’t mention it.

Please.

Don’t ever mention it.

Compliments scare us. 

We have someone become preconditioned and have accepted that it is normal to be yelled at.  We don’t like it, but we expect it.  We are not surprised when it happens.  We wait for it.  We anticipate it.  We try to avoid it. 

We expect negative feedback.  We always brace ourselves for all sorts of tragedies and misfortunes that circle around us like mosquitoes on a hot muggy evening.

Yet, we are never ready, nor are we willing, to embrace how magnificent we are.

We are a very special snowflake.

We have a deep and false sense of pride ingrained into our souls.

We mistake humility for shyness. 

We think we are being good, by continuously rejecting compliments.  The truths people see about ourselves.  Truths that become noticeable as you stand further and further away.

It’s not hard to do. 

Inside our minds, we constantly chide ourselves for our many mistakes and embarrassing failures.  We call ourselves terrible names.  Ugly names. 

We wouldn’t accept it from a friend, yet, we have become accustomed to throwing heaps of garbage on ourselves.

It seems we have always done it.  It just feels right.  It doesn’t feel strange.  It feels like home.

Home.

Compliments shake us from our ignorance.

They dare us to be and become who we fear.

As much as we would like to be beautiful. sexy, intelligent, handsome, wealthy, wise, we are reluctant to embrace change.

It is easier to reject the compliments than to become someone we dream of being.

Change is hard.  It requires persistent daily digging.  It is never done.  It is forever uncertain.

It is the only thing that matters.

The key to a happy life is to accept both the complaints and the compliments.  They must be vetted, of course.  Lots of people say lots of things, and for very different reasons.

But if the compliments are genuine.  If the complaints are real.  Why shouldn’t we learn, grown, cherish and embrace them?

Look in the mirror and start complementing yourself.

If you dare, you might discover how far you are from yourself.

Embrace the C word.

Pay it forward.

Encircle it. 

Stay calm.

And don’t tremble when it makes an appearance.