“No, honestly, that shirt looks great on you!”
One of my students asked me if women lie and tell him good things just to make him feel better. His worry was that they didn’t actually like him, but were just acting like they did to avoid hurting his feelings and to boost his self-esteem. He said he wanted the truth, not lies.
I told him he has to learn to accept her compliments. “You have to accept her compliment as reality!”
When you are unconfident and have low self esteem, you see the world through a certain lens. It’s like you’re looking through a blue-stained window, and everything you see is blue.
Every time a person says something which doesn’t match your thoughts, or challenges your beliefs, it’s like they are saying something in red. You’re mind will search for a way to change it to blue, so you can look at it through your window. One way your mind does this, is call it a lie.
“You look great today!”
“You’re just telling a lie to make me feel better.”
In Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) this process is called disqualifying the positive or mental filtering. It’s when you quickly dismiss positive comments because of your lack of self-belief, or you search only for information that matches your negative opinions.
“John, you’re a loser.”
“Yeah… you’re right. I am a loser.”
With this in mind, the first step to changing into a confident person with high self esteem is to change the colour of your lens, in other words, change your interpretation of events.
On the subject of low self esteem and unpolished lenses, an annoying thing that happens when I compliment a woman, is when she responds, “What a lie! You don’t mean that!”
It’s ridiculous. I can’t do anything but accept that she has a low mentality and a negative opinion of herself. From experience, I know I can’t fix that. And I know I don’t want to be sucked into her negativity; it’s like a whirlpool and I don’t want to drown.
(After an unpleasant relationship and many conversations with depressed people, I’ve learnt to ignore them.)
Break The Pattern
You need to break patterns of negative thinking, quickly.
Because the more you think negatively; the more your life will be negative.
Imagine you have a cupboard in your mind, and up to now you’ve been storing everybody’s negative comments. From this moment, you’ve got to clean out that mess, and start storing everybody’s positive comments. So that rather than a resource of insults and abuse, it’s a resource of compliments and praise. And as a result, when you feel demotivated, you can fall back onto your collection of positive memories.
Ergo, the best thing you can do is to remember – and believe – everybody’s positive comments. In the beginning, it’s helpful to keep a record of said comments by writing them in a nice journal.
Notably: I used to keep a journal of all the positive things people said about me. Then I would review it at the end of the day. Eventually, I believed these things and learnt to accept compliments by smiling and saying, “Thank you.” Soon, instead of rejecting their compliments, I stored them in my mind until I understood they were true. And my opinion of myself changed so greatly, that I no longer heard negativity.
If you want to read more about this idea, you can buy the CBT For Dummies book here.
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