Compliments and why I hate them

Posted: April 25, 2012 in Mental Health
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I dont think this has always been the case, to be honest my recollection of earlier times is fuzzy and from what I have been told I have always been quite humble about achievements, trouble is I now have knowledge of why that was probably the case.

I have always done well academically I excelled early and managed very high grades at a very young age, not bragging just the way it was and I do remember leaving primary school with top marks and my Dad being very proud of me, the reason I remember is I dont remember anyone saying anything more on my later achievements at all. I carried on being a clever dick with very little effort, if pushed I could have achieved so much more but I was free wheeling through my school life doing enough to get by with no discernible effort which was great at the time but now as I am trying to finally get my degree at 42 I cant help but wonder what if? So while at school I also swam, and I mean I swam a lot. I was fast and entered all the school galas, winning every race I entered even managing to beat older kids when a school fielded ringers against us, you know who you were. In all of this my dad was happy enough to say well done and my mum was already far to interested in her own life to pay any attention and I now know I gave up telling anyone how well I was doing by then, I dont really look back with sadness but I am told I should.

As I got older I carried on doing well at most things I turned my hand at, sports were not my strong point, swimming was thing but most other sports I was proficient but nothing more. The one skill I picked up in my teens was fighting, I was already quite strong from all the swimming and my shoulders had spread out to give me a good build. Where I’m from fighting was part of everyday life, we fought kids from other blocks, other estates or just our brothers it wasnt really a bad situation but I tell others and they react as if I was underprivileged, which I may well have been but not because of this. The fighting got serious as I got older with people bringing all sorts of weapons into the mix, I have been stabbed, slashed and shot in my teens and this only added to my idea I was somehow immortal. My peers at this time were impressed by my prowess with my fists, they exulted in being involved and little did I know were actually starting fights with the intention of setting me on their foes, this was praise of sorts but implied and that’s how I liked it.

Fast forward a few years and my working life was panning out as I expected, I was never happy to just do a job it had to be done right and perfection was always my aim, again no praise was offered and none sought but as I worked harder I was promoted and given responsibility for stuff others should really have taken on. I went into sales and against my better judgement did very well, I made shed loads of money which was the praise I really wanted or at least thought I did. All the while I was keeping my light under a bushel, never really letting anyone know how I was doing, good or bad and this suited me. I like to tell myself I was doing so out of humility but the truth is I expected nothing so didnt offer the chance to get it, it didnt seem a problem and the small wounds this attitude exacted added up until eventually there was a gaping hole in my psyche that needed urgent attention.

At this point I was given attention I never asked for or realised I wanted, it was odd but I took it at face value and struggled on, by the time I thought I’d recovered I was tired of being praised for coming back from the brink, I didnt like hearing it and this is when I realised I didnt like compliments, in fact they really bothered me. one would assume i would have tried to hide my achievements or under perform but this wasnt possible, I did what came naturally but my friends got to know I wasnt into praise and acted accordingly.

Forward again to my current bout of mental instability and the treatment I received opened up a can of worms about this behaviour that I didnt really like hearing. The idea that I baulked praise because I didnt truly know what to do with it because of my experiences was uncomfortable but unerringly accurate. I did very well in therapy, again I put everything into it and got what I deserved out of it, I can pat myself on the back and say I earned my prize and even accepted some plaudits, small ones but it was a change for me. Since leaving I have done things that almost beg to be praised even though I still dont want it, and by saying this I am not inviting others to tell me how good Ive been or done and I should accept it, this is drilled into me regularly and it wont wash so dont bother.

My blogging was started as a form of therapy, the not talking about feelings to the group left me feeling odd so I started blogging and was amazed that others were reading it, commenting and even offering advice and conceivably I could have been barracked or praised and I didnt consider it worth worrying about. Publishing the book was another step I didnt really consider, in doing so I was technically asking for consideration by others and I got it, in spades. This is where the basis of this blog came from, I met my therapist yesterday and she complimented me on how well I have done, she remarked on the things she saw as progress and knowing I was struggling with hearing it she carried on and to be fair I managed it.

I am more than a few years down the road of treatment and I find that being complimented when its justified is OK, I dont like it but I get it and I dont have a problem offering compliments so I use this to work out my own feelings about it. I like it when someone who doesnt know me says something good about my work, not me the work, and this does give me some impetus to carry on with my writing so I see it as fuel for my work and if I can find ways to use all the nice things people say to me then I will be a lot happier, which is a big change in my life, the idea of possibly being happy is strange but I feel like I might actually have earned it, without being big headed or arrogant I feel I have paid some dues and should be getting something back. Hey I just complimented myself , kind of>

  1. magicallymad says:

    Being new to blogging in general & not having read any of your other pieces yet, 2 thoughts: 1. You have BPD & do not like compliments? You must have mastered something! Congrats! Although, yes, I cannot stand “clinical” compliments either. 2. Take this as a token of appreciation if not a compliment – YES! Carry on, don’t stop writing!

    • bigsteveg says:

      Yeah the compliments and BPD thing is a little out of the ordinary, that word Validation makes me ill, I not only dont like it I dont like seeing my fellow sufferers work so hard to get it, it devalues us but I get why, and my reaction is probably a defensive stance, thanks for taking the time to comment and I hope you enjoy blogging as much as I do, and yes I will keep on writing.

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