April Moments

Maybe, just maybe, telling the story is just as important as the story itself

Removing the veil from un-compliments

I am going to admit to something I’ve been doing. Something that’s not very nice. Not nice at all, actually.

Sometimes I notice positive changes in others or observe good habits they have, and I say, “You look SO SKINNY” or “Your office is SO ORGANIZED” or “Your house is SO CLEAN.”

Reading those sentiments, you might think those statements are compliments. But I’m realizing that, while the words themselves could be complimentary, the way I say the words is not. Definitely not. Not even close.

What I’ve figured out is what I’m really saying is, “How dare you lose weight and look fabulous? I can’t believe how thin your arms are. I am jealous.”

Or “How is it possible that you are so organized, and I am so disorganized? I don’t know how you do it. I am jealous.”

Or “It is not fair that you are able to keep your house so clean. It makes me feel bad about myself to see it. I am jealous.”

My words come out with disgust, soaked in envy.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog called “The common sense of compliments.” In it, I addressed the need for women to step up their confidence and accept compliments. This week, however, as I’ve been contemplating this terrible thing I’ve done – giving insults disguised as compliments – I’ve discovered something: It’s no wonder it can be so hard to accept compliments from each other!

It’s not as if the people to whom I’ve given the un-compliments are fooled. Surely they can tell I’m jealous. No wonder they don’t say “Thank you” and move on. They feel judged and insulted, as they should.

And as for the reaction of “It makes me feel bad about myself to see others’ clean houses,” yes, it does. It probably always will. Deep down I know no one is trying to make me feel bad about myself. I know they are not cleaning their houses AT ME, as Momastery’s Glennon Melton would say.

But I have to admit, when I go to a friend’s house and I see toys strewn across the floor or dog hair on the carpet or dishes in the sink, I feel relieved. I feel at home, like I am in good company. Like I am living in truth – because no mom has it all together, and it is so nice to see that in real life.

How is it that I am in my 30s and I am still realizing that it is OK for everyone to have different gifts and talents? Some moms are just more organized, and, as surprising as it is to me, they actually clean their houses regularly. I suppose jealousy is a natural human response, but verbalizing it through the facade of a compliment is not good for anyone. I am going to work on this.

Originally published on ovparent.com.

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