I suppose some of you will roll your eyes at the title of this post. Of course, compliments are good. That’s what makes them compliments. However, many people seem to struggle to accept compliments or they don’t know how to respond to them properly. I was like that, and still, don’t know how to respond sometimes even though it’s quite simple. All you have to do is say “thank you,” after all.
That’s one of the things she taught me to always do. To say thank you even if I didn’t feel like I wanted the compliment.
Halfway through my training, Miss Lois also started making a point of how compliments are positive. I suppose I struggled to accept compliments because I never felt like I was good enough or doing good enough. It can always be better, right? I also didn’t like attention and receiving a compliment felt like receiving attention.
By Christmas time, I had started dressing more nicely. I was no longer wearing hoodies (unless it was a stay indoors pyjama day) (side note I own about 24 hoodies or so, oops) and I had been telling Miss Lois how a lot of people had commented on my change (positively so). She asked me if I liked it and I wasn’t sure. Maybe? I didn’t mind it, I guess (which to be fair was quite a positive response for me).
Miss Lois: “They were really complimenting me without knowing it.”
This made perfect sense to me. While the people in my surrounding had been putting my change down to my new antidepressants, my new outfits and confidence came from somewhere else.
Miss Lois: “And I love compliments.”
That made me pause and think. So in other words, that meant that if I was doing well it was a compliment to Miss Lois?
Miss Lois: “Absolutely. And when you get a compliment it is double the compliment to me because I shaped and trained you to get it, which is much harder than doing it myself.”
That sort of made sense. I was still sort of coming to terms with it though because this meant that compliments were definitely positive and not a thing I should avoid, at all. And this seemed to go against my still present belief that compliments were kind of uncomfortable, really.
So she continued to say that when I’d be wearing heels and someone looked up at me, that this would be a compliment to her. (Now I conveniently tend to avoid all eyes on the street and pretend no one exists but-) And she also said that if someone commented on them, that it’d be an even better compliment to her.
Miss Lois: “Any kind of attention you get is a compliment to me.
Do you like it when people make me compliments which makes me happy?”
(I mean… fair play if you put it like that… then surely I would definitely have to see compliments as good right? If she couldn’t get me to see them as positive for myself… then it had to be through her I guess.)
So I liked that idea.
Miss Lois: “And what do you think about having another way to make me happy?”
I liked that idea even more. I liked it a lot. (And at the same time I definitely wasn’t convinced that this would make me like compliments to be honest, even though the logic seemed waterproof!)
However, I had already been trying to do this, somehow. I had been trying to wear heels more often for example, for that specific reason without realising until she said all of this.
She wanted to do a little experiment now. She told me to close my eyes and to imagine that I was walking through a busy high street, wearing my highest heels and a tight skirt and top. Nothing crazy, but definitely sexy, and with every click of my heel the people in the street turned their head and looked at me. She then wanted me to tell her how it made me feel.
It made me feel scared. Imaginary me told herself to just keep on walking and that it was fine. It was fine. – I told Miss Lois that I would probably try and walk quickly and then adjust because I wouldn’t be able to walk quickly in those heels and that trying it would also look silly. I would try and think of how this would be good though, because of what she’d told me.
Miss Lois: “Now close your eyes and think about making me happy,
being a good girl and pleasing me.”
I said that I thought it would make me stand more straight, or I would at least try to. And that maybe I’d have to keep a straightened face because I’d smile to myself knowing it’d make Miss Lois happy. I would also think about how I was doing it despite it being scary, which would potentially give me confidence just for being able to do the ‘crazy scary thing.’ Maybe eventually I’d enjoy it? (massive question mark, lol)
Miss Lois: “And now think that every look is the reason I am happy. Like a counter. The more looks you get, the happier you make me. Every look is almost a physical impact on you that reminds you that you got one more that makes me happy.”
Me: “I think it would make me smile and potentially feel good, Miss.”
She then said that the next time I was to go out in heels, she wanted me to think about this and how looking good made her proud and for me to understand that they made her happy.
Naturally, I didn’t just suddenly felt good about compliments afterwards. Even though I forced myself to be reminded that they made Miss Lois happy, it didn’t really overshadow my insecurity. But what this conversation had done was plant the seed for the eventual success of the idea.
I very clearly remember my discomfort lasting for a few weeks, and then it very slowly started to change. At first, the compliment itself felt awkward and then telling Miss Lois too felt awkward. As if I was asking for attention (which I know! makes no sense considering she literally and specifically told me to tell her).
But then for the change, if I got a compliment it started feeling slightly good. And telling Miss Lois definitely felt good. It made me proud.
I also started feeling more confident in myself. I wore a specific look once and people on the street commented on it negatively, but it didn’t bother me because I felt like I was looking good. In the past, I would have immediately turned out and gone home to change, and not go back out, lol.
Then even further down the line, I truly started enjoying dressing up nicely and actively wanted to dress up in a specifically nice way and happily share the picture with Miss Lois. I didn’t need her to confirm that she liked the outfit. I didn’t need a response. I would feel good myself and felt sure that she would feel the same and would be proud. And that thought alone would help me have a better day too.
Of course, she would tell me, some times days afterwards, that she really liked my outfit and was proud of me. And naturally, this made me very happy and helped build my confidence.
Sometimes if I didn’t feel sure about myself I would ask her for advice and I think she liked me asking too. I guess on one hand the goal was definitely for me to know how to dress and be more classy but on the other hand, it was still nice that I needed to go to her for guidance and valued her opinion. Although I suppose me valuing her opinion was a given, ha!
However, it didn’t quite work for ‘extreme’ things in my definition of extreme, lol. That means for very high heels or long skirts or very sexy outfits. My anxiety overrules everything else. Anything in public that I’m still anxious about overrules any other logic. And our training ended before I mastered this part of confidence.
But still, I made miles of progress. I don’t think I can force myself to wear high heels out in public, or the long skirts or any other sexy outfits. I can wear body con dresses now. And dress up nicely even if my peers aren’t and still feel confident. But other things are too anxiety-inducing. Even when Miss Lois pushed me to do these things it was a real push. I mean remember my failed attempt to wear heels at the airport the first time?
But hey, remember compliments are good! And nowadays all compliments do make me happy. Doesn’t matter who it comes from. Like, I used to feel awkward if men complimented me because I’m gay. But it’s just a compliment which is good, so that’s that.