Today I was told I was amazing at colouring (their emphasis not mine) and had a talent for guitar. It made me feel happy to hear such positive reinforcement in my world. Particularly because it was said so genuinely. They really believed it and for once I didn’t shuck of the compliment, I felt like they really believed it and saw, that in their eyes, I really did have a talent.
The voices that spoke with such authenticity? They belonged to a five year old and a seven year old. For them I really was a master colourer, I could stay in the lines! And whilst not bound by any responsibility of birth relation, they love me and feel comfortable to tell me nice things. They had no problem focusing on my good points. It made me wonder why as adults we think it not appropriate to compliment so openly and honestly and veil our compliments banter – in jokes or joking insults? Is it because we’re British?!
I can be shy to say it, for fear of looking silly or sappy or both, but I want all the people around me to feel good about themselves. It’s something I have to work on consciously as I continually deprogramme my cultural and social conditioning. I decided at that point, not just to compliment those I find it easy to say nice things to, those I love, but also to say nice things to strangers. To cross those huge boundaries my introvert side places before me and the other and remove that idea of separateness by crossing it with an expression of genuine wonder and appreciation of all that is.
I’m going to make more of an effort to say what I mean rather than try to say it with humour. Sometimes the British humour doesn’t translate and I wouldn’t want my compliment or admiration to miss its mark. I started today by telling a girl on the train with amazing dyed orange hair it looked amazing rather than just sitting there and thinking it.
Do you receive positive reinforcement? Do you give it?
Photo credit goes with thanks to Graham Keen for his ‘I like your shoes’