The Confidence to Take a Compliment

My daughter is the fastest runner in the world. I know this because she tells me so. She has promised to help train me run for my upcoming Sprint Triathlon, but has told me not to feel bad if I can’t keep up because she is just that fast. I greatly admire her confidence, and her unwavering knowledge that she will be successful in any and all things she wants to achieve. The confidence of a child is a marvelous thing.

At some point, though, our supreme confidence goes away. I think this is especially true of women. We mumble our answers at school, we bite our nails, or play with our hair. And my personal favorite, we deflect a compliment with an insult. For example, “Your hair looks pretty today” is met with, “It’s just behaving because the weather is good.” I often wonder why this is. Is it because we assume that as women and parents we can’t take pride in our own success? Have we become used to thinking of ourselves as second citizens because we are so focused on being a good partner, parent, and ensuring our families get all the love and admiration they desire?

I also ponder why it is so difficult to take the compliment. It’s not like we are unworthy of it. I recently did my first speech for my Toastmasters group. The first speech is called an Ice Breaker, and it’s a 4-6 minute opportunity to tell a bit about yourself. My talk was called “A Journey Through Food and State” and discussed how a self-professed picky eater and reluctant cook could wind up in the world of food and fitness.

I know the speech was good, and I know I am an excellent public speaker. It is what I am meant to do in life. The rhythm flowed; my jokes were timely. The imagery of words painted a picture of my life as I told it. I got laughs and knowing nods as I stood before the group and spoke of my trials and tribulations of eating new foods. And when it was over, the clapping and smiles validated all of these thoughts.

And yet afterwards, when my fellow Toastmasters came to congratulate me, to express surprise that this was my first speech, to praise me on the richness of my words, my comfort at the podium, the ease of my speech, I ducked my head. I smiled and thanked them for their words but inwardly shook my head with disbelief. Surely, I couldn’t have been that good. Perhaps they do this to all the newbies.

My daughter would have stood there and agreed. She would have said, “Thank you. Yes, I know it was a great speech. I’m really proud of it.” And she would have known that their accolades and respect was genuine and earned.

Going forth, I plan on taking my cues from the world’s fastest kid. I will be right beside her, owning my power and inspiring others to do the same. Because if I don’t, I will take the 6 year old mindset of knowing greatness is real and possible, and I will crush it. I will teach her to duck and cover, to demur and dismiss a compliment. And if I do that, then no amount of public speaking or inspiration will change it. She will become just another girl, waiting to be told she is special. I am special. You are special. We are all special. Challenge yourself each and every day to realize it. And then, teach it, share it, own it, love it.


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About the Author: Courtney Abrams is a Health Coach and Founder of Roslyn Wellness. Trained at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she helps clients work within the realities of their day to day lives to find ways to make small and manageable changes to their health that can maintained over time. Her clients include people trying to lose weight, beat sugar, increase their energy, cook simple healthful food and reduce stress to name a few. She also shares a passion for food policy and educating people about the foods they are eating and the governmental role behind much of it. You can learn more about Courtney and Roslyn Wellness at

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