Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Looking for a Fight.


I'm the type of person who analyzes everything and wants an answer to - or at least a reason for - everything that happens in my life.

Sometimes I'm actually good at it. If I think, write, or talk about something for long enough, I can figure out the root of my problems. Other times, though, I just get stuck.

One thing that's been bugging me lately has been why I can't graciously accept compliments or gratitude. I'm aware that much of the reason is because my family life is based on sarcasm and witty comments as opposed to displays of love, gratitude, and kindness (of which I am completely accepting; it's just the dynamic that works for us). Because I never received a ton of genuine praise or thanks, I can't adequately cope with them.

Maybe it's not so much that I can't understand my inability to accept them. It's more about why I feel the need to dismiss them.

These past two weekends, I did a bunch of stuff for my boyfriend's birthday - I threw him a party, which included baking cupcakes and taking care of all of our guests; I got him (two inexpensive) gifts even though we'd agreed I wouldn't; and I took him out to dinner. It seems like a lot, and probably is a lot, but because they were all things I wanted to do for him, it didn't feel like a big deal.

He thanked me many, many times for all of this. In one specific conversation over text, he said that I did so much for him and he hoped he could repay me when my birthday rolls around. My response? It really wasn't that much, this is normal for me. I even wanted to say not to worry about going to all the trouble for my birthday.

This happens with any major compliments as well. My inner mean girl is probably to blame for a lot of it, because according to her, the things I do aren't that great and neither am I as a person. But there are times when I obsess over the things I do for others and acknowledge that I deserve gratitude, to the point where I get upset that I don't receive more of it; yet when I actually get it, I refuse it.

Katie recently blogged about putting herself first and said this about how she habitually picks up the tab when out with friends:
Maybe part of me wants them to fight me back and insist that they contribute because I’m worth it.
When I read this, it made immediate sense in my head because this is my motivation for self-deprecating comments. I dismiss compliments and gratitude because I'm challenging someone to fight back and truly insist that I deserve the original praise. When they don't (and they usually don't), the nasty voice inside my head convinces me that the original praise was just that person being nice and issuing an obligatory compliment/thanks. Basically, I won't believe someone is truly grateful or issuing an honest compliment unless they argue with me when I brush it off.

Well then. I suppose I figured out the 'why' for this issue. Now comes the hard part of figuring out how I overcome this issue.