This is not that sermon.
In my last post, I reflected on the way praise can and should be given. A corollary of people's reluctance to praise generously is the widespread tendency to deflect it when it is offered. The same meme that informs us that "praise = insincerity" when we wish to compliment someone and hold back from full and generous praise leads us to assume that any compliments bestowed upon us cannot possibly be true. And even if they are, that it would somehow be in poor form to accept them at face value. So we deflect them:
- "Oh, it was nothing."
- "My part was really not that significant."
- "There are still many problems to work out."
These seem like polite expressions of modesty, but they are not. They are, in a mild way, a rejection of the goodwill of others. We were offered a gift, and with these words, we have diminished it. Rather, we should respond to compliments as we respond to any other gift:
Just as we are stingy with our praise, we are stingier still with our gratitude for the praise of others.
Please, in this season of gratitude, practice being grateful for all the expressions of praise, compliments, and general goodwill which you receive. Say "thank you," and really take a minute to let the positive sentiment land. Let it create a space of heightened self-esteem for yourself. This is not vanity! Instead, higher self-esteem will empower you to spread more goodness in the world. Go ahead! See yourself as a person who is deserving of praise! Be the person that the praise says you are!
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.