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For women, the real bully is in their head (how to take a compliment)

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If you want to see a woman squirm, look her in the eyes and give her a genuine compliment. She may be flattered, but she will argue with you until she convinces you that the outfit is old, a hand me down, inexpensive, or some other excuse she can find to help her feel more at ease with the attention.

Women don't take genuine compliments well, and most of the training they get in regards to receiving one is to remain humble. This is different than men. If you give a guy a compliment, he will usually light up, and if you tell him you like his shirt, slacks or shoes, be prepared to see those articles of clothing more often. Men don't do the double think or the inner bully talk telling them to be humble, shy, or modest. Rather, they embrace the compliment and sometimes thank you, but it isn't required.

One of the classes I had during my graduate classes focused on women's inner voice. It was fascinating because this inner voice is developed long before we ever talk to ourselves. It is fed to us from our parents, especially our mothers. If our mothers talk badly about their body or their looks or their clothes, the child personalizes it. Before long, the child has developed an inner voice which or use to be mom's outer voice. The effects are especially dramatic with girls. The lesson girls are taught at a very young age is to love your self, but not too much. Believe in yourself, but never admit it out loud. Boys are not held to this level. In fact, most boys are raised to stand out and compete.

How can we possibly tell girls to love themselves, accept themselves, see their inner beauty and know their worth if we are raising them to constantly point out their own flaws when complimented, lest they make another woman feel insecure? I have seen women at the top of their career turn red, and fumble for an excuse of how they achieved what they did, and yet keep such a beautiful presence about them. Guys at the top do not act like this. They have no reason to feel embarrassed when they stand out for their success, nor should they, nor should anyone who succeeds their goal.

If you are raising children or you are a woman who struggles with accepting your achievements or style, learning how to accept a compliment is going to help you feel more confident in yourself. It will require practice as well as tuning out the tapes from your parents who may have never achieved the joy a compliment can bring. Below are suggestions that can help.

When you have achieved something, tell yourself under your breath, good job. Moms should take special note to compliment themselves out loud in front of their children.

When someone compliments you, before you can belittle it, say, "Thank You."

After you say, "thank you," don't rush in with how great the other person looks as well. Just let it be.

Begin giving others more compliments. Focus on their attitude or skills. The most difficult compliments women receive are those pertaining to their looks, so if you do give a compliment regarding their looks, be ready for them to be bashful and make excuses.

If we are to raise a generation of strong boys and girls, then we must be able to teach them that compliments are a good thing. A genuine compliment tells us that someone appreciates a look, skill or job we are doing. To deflect a compliment not only looks awkward on you, but it puts the giver in an awkward position. Part of being an emotionally healthy individual is being able to appreciate others appreciating you.

– Mary Jo Rapini

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