Monday, June 16, 2008
Why, when someone gives us a compliment do we try to dilute its intensity and beauty by offering a counter statement. We start to justify our good fortune by denying any self effort, even though on the inside we know that it was our hard work and our sheer persistence that brought about the desired result. Why then this unease when we should be proud of our achievements?
I recently met a very attractive and talented Thai lady who works part time at my daughter’s school. Her job is to make sure that no body leaves the school gates or gets hurt during lunch time. It’s not a challenging job, but keeps her busy. We got chatting and I asked her why she did not apply for a better position in the school. She immediately started to run herself down, talking about her poor command of the English language. Her lack of education, her lack of confidence, her lack of self esteem and everything else that she could think of that would disqualify her from getting a better position. Not once did she say anything that was self promoting.
My mother was the same; she would constantly berate herself and even consider herself incapable of learning. She was afraid to try anything new because she was convinced she would fail. In my mother’s case, it was her parents who always told her how incapable she was. She was made to believe that she was good for nothing and anything that she did was not worth kudos. It really was not even my grandparents fault; it was just the way they had been brought up. Open affection and open praise were considered to be a signs of weakness. The prevailing notion of those days was the use of negative reinforcement to achieve desired behavior, so instead of praise one was always belittled and in some perverse and twisted way encouraged to perform better.
This erstwhile way of upbringing seems to have left indelible marks on our psyche. Although today, open praise, affection, self love and appreciation are encouraged, I am amazed to find so many people who constantly run themselves down.
Another friend of mine, who is extremely attractive, but considers herself to be a bit on the plus side, immediately, starts to talk about her weight and how she has put on a few extra pounds. When I met her recently and complimented her on how good she looked, she immediately went into denial by commenting on how fat she had become and how terrible she looked. My compliment was genuine, and her denial at the acceptance of the compliment was equally genuine.
All of us at some time or other have been guilty of self flagellation and self deprecation. A few months ago I too fell into the same trap. I had gained a few pounds and as soon as I would meet someone I had not met for a while, I would immediately comment on my weight gain and start to berate myself for having indulged in my epicurean desires. Before they could have a chance to comment on how I looked, I would go into this mode whereby I would start to make fun of myself and my body.
Why do we constantly berate ourselves? Why do we find it so hard to receive compliments? Why are we so judgmental of ourselves?
I think it’s in self defense, or a sub conscious desire for acceptance in the way that our friends will say that our negative image is just in our heads and that we are not really that fat or ugly or stupid. I’d rather call myself stupid and fat before someone else does!!
Most of us have grown up thinking self deprecation is a healthy way of accepting ourselves and subconsciously it has been drilled in our heads that it is better to be humble than to be arrogant. Humility is a wonderful quality, but humility does not need to translate into self flagellation and self deprecation. Why then this negative self talk and self abuse.
It has now been proven scientifically that we are the product of our most dominant thought. Just as music from the radio is a physical manifestation of an intangible signal, our physical being is the tangible reality of our thoughts. Our thoughts and emotions have a vibratory frequency and that frequency shapes our reality.
Constant self deprecation, whether in jest or in sincerity eventually creates our reality. Our subconscious registers even what our conscious brain rejects or denies, so when we say that we are fat and stupid, in jest and in a way to elicit a positive response from our friends, our subconscious registers that as the truth and makes it our reality.
By no means am I saying that we should walk around claiming how wonderful, beautiful and intelligent we are. Our collective consciousness has been so methodically hypnotized into believing that self deprecation is better than self promotion that when we meet someone who is confident and sure we immediately label them as cocky, arrogant and full of themselves.
The world at large always makes us feel small, so why do we need to make ourselves even smaller. If not in public at least in private make it a habit of praising yourself, your body and your intelligence for having supported you this far.
Yes, humility is a wonderful quality and we should all adhere to it, but humility definitely does not have to regress into self abuse. Being humble means accepting of our limitations, not enhancing or promoting them.
Next time, try and observe how many times you say something negative about yourself? Put away a dollar for every time you say something negative or uncomplimentary about yourself or your situation, I can bet you will have enough money collected for a movie and dinner! Mine was more than enough!!
Science is now able to even prove that our emotions and feelings directly affect the structure of our DNA, so the more negative your self-image and your image of the world, your DNA will configure itself in such a way that it will reinforce that particular self belief.
Ever notice how lucky people always seem to attract good luck and vice versa. A lucky person believes himself or herself to be lucky and thereby attracts even more good luck because of the vibratory frequency that he/she is emanating and on the other hand a person who deems himself/herself to be unlucky vibrates to a lower frequency and attracts similar circumstances.
So starting today; make a promise to yourself that you will rise in love and humility and not stoop in fear and self deprecation.