Downplaying Compliments

So one time, there was this girl who started reading a self help book and then she had four good days and she wrote about how simply the act of reading the book seemed to help her, and then…you know…TO PROVE THE POINT…she stopped reading it for two days and ATE ALL OF THE FOODS IN ALL OF THE LANDS.

She also started yelling at her kids again.

And kinda fumbled a few life tasks.

Experiment done! Go back to reading the book, lady! STAT.

I’ve decided that we (me) need to work on doing two things:

1) Owning our accomplishments
2) Accepting compliments

I’ve actually been working on both of these things for awhile, as it has come to my attention as I run more and more, that maybe sometimes I do things worth praise.


It’s hard when someone says, “It’s amazing all the running you do. Seriously. You’re a beast.” Because – here are the immediate thoughts that pop into my head.

Well, those girls I know training for a 100-miler, they’re running more.

Em, yeah, but you could run this much too if you never cleaned your house, or wore makeup, or went to church, or had to commute to work…

But it’s something I HAVE to do, it keeps me sane. It’s as connected to keeping me a functioning adult as eating breakfast every morning. So, it’s not much of a challenge to keep doing it.

I don’t really run more than the average person during the week, I just cram it all in on the weekends to make up for it.

And yes, all of those are true. But, they don’t lessen the fact that I ran 35 miles in two days. So, part of me forces myself to say, “HOLY CRAP! 35 MILES IN TWO DAYS!” Separate from all of the voices inside my head minimizing the accomplishment. I try to FORCE myself to look at myself from the eyes of 2009 Kim. It’s not that hard, since she was me, and she would be damn impressed.

I’m also trying to say, “Thank you!” more when people compliment me. Now, I can’t stop myself from then downplaying the compliment, but I give a sincere thanks first. But I’ve been thinking about it a lot (Because – you know – I get compliments ALL THE TIME. JEEZUS. Like, everyone in the world gives me compliments every 5 seconds because I’m so awesome!) and I think that the part of me that downplays things after getting a compliment has less to do with how I see myself or more to do with how I’m worried the other person sees me.

There are women I look at who do these amazing things and I just don’t see how they do it and it makes me look at my life and feel REALLY shitty. Like my friend Sarah for instance. She doesn’t write a lot on her blog because she’s so busy but I’m her Facebook friend and I’m constantly feeling really crappy about myself by comparing my life to hers. I know this is irrational and I’m sure she’d be the first to correct me, but I can’t help but look at everything she does and think, “Jeez, slacker much, Kim?”

So, if someone is complimenting me on my awesomeness I think, “Oh no! Do they feel inadequate compared to me? I HOPE NOT.” I thank them, but then I try to take a moment to remind them the things that are missing in my life that allow me to be awesome in the way they think I am. I want them to walk away thinking, “Okay, so she’s awesome in this way, but she doesn’t have to do these things that I do so it’s easier for her.”

I’m learning to be GRATEFUL for compliments, but I’ll always feel the need to point out the crappy things I do so that no one carries a false impression of me in their head. YES! It’s awesome that I run so much! But all of our meals come from cans. And I only mop my floors once a month when we host family dinner. And I never clean windows or garden. And I also don’t have to commute or put on makeup for my job. I NEED TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE KNOWS THIS.

I am learning though. I am learning to at least be grateful. And to still recognize that even though I drop a lot of balls so I can run, running in and of itself is about more than just – having the free time to do it. So, I’m learning to own my running accomplishments as just that: Running Accomplishments and try not to continually downplay them with a, “Eh, it’s nothing special. If you had the same free time I have you’d do it too.” Because that’s not true at all. Running takes more than just TIME, there’s a lot more that gets me out the door and keeps me on the road or on the trails than just TIME. So, I’m trying to be better about recognizing that.

But I’ll never stop responding with the REAL TALK about how I’m crappy in other ways, because I feel like the WORST THING IN THE WORLD would be to find out that someone looked at my life and felt shitty about their own. I mean, SERIOUSLY. It would make me so upset, because there are so many things I don’t do that I should be doing. I’ll never be able to break that habit of pointing out my flaws when I get a compliment. I am just learning to also be gracious too. It’s a tricky balance.

2 thoughts on “Downplaying Compliments”

  1. I can relate. I don’t run, but it’s on my list of things to do soon. I work full-time at a center for kids with Autism and related disabilities, have a client I see in the evenings after, have my own 2 year old, and I’m in grad school so I can pursue national certification. Coworkers call me inspirational and I cringe because I am just trying to survive, but when I look at my daily responsibility list I AM proud of all that I balance. I think it’s ingrained in girls to be humble, which is never a bad trait as long as we give ourselves credit where credit IS due. Now that I am done with one certification test I want to pick up running, and YOU have inspired me to try.

  2. A suggestion, instead of returning a complement with something negative about yourself by downplaying your own awesomeness (bc not keeping up with housework doesn’t negate your achievement of running so much)… Try returning their compliment with a compliment. It puts out positive energy and you’re not downplaying yourself. So many women feel compelled to disagree or downplay a compliment (me too sometimes).

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