I like to think I have a tough skin and that silly insults don't affect me, but that's a lie. Deep down, I'm a big, fat, insecure baby, worried that no one will like me. Over the years of helping people with their communication skills, I've found that we're all big, fat, insecure babies. We do our best not to admit it or show others that we feel vulnerable at times, and yet if we let our guards down, we might understand each other better. We're constantly on the lookout for negative feedback because we tend to expect the worst.
For that reason, I've always had trouble accepting a compliment. "Hey, Celeste, you look nice today." My response, "Thank you, the stars must've been in alignment today." I should be able to say, "Thank you," but I can't. I feel the need to explain that my 'looking nice' was a lucky accident. Of course, if someone said, "Wow, Celeste, did you have trouble sleeping last night? You've got luggage bags under your eyes." Instead of explaining to that person how incredibly rude they're being, I would shrug my shoulders and say, "Well, I'm catching a plane tonight, and it's one way of carrying all my stuff."
I would never intentionally make someone feel less than, but I know I've hurt other people's feelings. Fortunately, I've had the opportunity to make amends and apologize. As insecure as I am, I've never felt the need to tear someone down so that I can feel better about myself. Whenever I see nasty comments posted on social media about an article or video, I believe the insensitive author must deal with low self-esteem. People who are confident and optimistic about their lives don't think about insulting others. Rather, they're the ones who want to lift everyone up.
Once we admit that we all have insecurities, we can develop more empathy and compassion for each other. We won't be expecting a bad review but helpful, constructive criticism instead. We'll acknowledge positive feedback with acceptance and not try to deflect it away. We'll find self-assurance in maintaining a healthier mindset by believing we all have something important to share.
Whenever I can help someone find their voice and deliver their presentation with conviction and poise, I feel wonderful. It's a rewarding experience that stays with me. I know how hard it is to be on stage and take the chance of failing, but once we quiet the big, fat, insecure baby that lives inside us, we're left feeling strong and accomplished. The more encouragement and support we give each other, the more we'll find positive reinforcement in ourselves.
The next time I'm on the receiving end of a compliment, I'll remind myself to simply say, "Thank you!" Of course, I'll also tell the person who feels the need to insult me that their insecure baby needs to be fed because they're being cranky.