Get rid of your big but

Big buts and boomerangs are holding us back from enjoying the goodness in life.

In popular culture today, large, firm butts are considered attractive.

Just look at Jennifer Lopez and the Kardashians. People exercise to increase their glutes, get butt implants, and inject God-knows-what into their behinds to increase their size.

But what is true for physical beauty does not hold true for living a positively attractive life.

Have you ever offered someone a gift only to have them refuse to accept it, or to quickly give it back to you?

A physical gift, maybe not so much, but this is what commonly happens when compliments are offered.

Compliments are gifts.

Have you ever noticed the cultural trend to diminish the compliments offered?

I sure have.

When I offer an accolade, I’m saddened when my gift is refused, diminished, or returned. When, instead of having it accepted, I only get their big ‘buts’ or a boomerang compliment in return.

When I tell friends their hair looks fabulous, so often they criticize themselves, or question my opinion by adding, “but I’ve got so many split ends, or grey hairs.”

Recently, I saw a cartoon clearly depicting this societal norm.

In the first cartoon, a woman was complimented by her friends. She responded with all of the reasons why the compliment wasn’t true, pointing out her shortcomings. The friends all nodded and smiled.

In the second frame of the cartoon, the woman who was offered the compliment simply said thank you. Her friends were outraged and they attacked her.

Sadly, this cartoon is closer to reality than fiction. The buts are expected, and they’re often automatic.

Last week, I told a friend just how wonderful I thought she was and why. I really wanted her to hear me. It hangs in my memory, her sad eyes looking at me, saying “Thanks, but…”

She never finished her sentence. I don’t know what she was going to offer as the reason why I was wrong. I’m hoping she couldn’t think of one good reason, yet I’ll bet that wasn’t the case.

What I find interesting is the opposite, when we’re offered a criticism. Boy, we hold onto these babies and milk them for all they’re worth.

Curious isn’t it?

Compliments are refused, or they’re like water off a duck, yet negative statements are nurtured and held on to, sometimes for years.  Something’s wrong here.

I don’t know what’s up when it comes to compliments and criticism. It may be related, partly, to culture and to the negativity bias.

The negativity bias is an evolutionary capacity. It’s our tendency to give more air time to the negative than the positive. It’s the genetic predisposition to fear danger more than be aware of the good.

Negativity bias helped keep us alive back when sabre-toothed tigers were lurking in the jungle. We needed to pay more attention to lurking shadows, to what might threaten us, just to stay alive.

In the absence of sabre-toothed tigers and the like, we’re overusing this capacity when it’s not needed. We’re safer in modern society than we were when we lived in the wilds, yet continue to focus more on the negative, to our detriment.

It can cost us our health, as it keeps us in a state of fight-or-flight.

Most people appreciate positive acknowledgement from others, we may even seek it, yet dismiss or denigrate it when it’s offered.

What I do know is we’re more often critical of ourselves than we are praising. We’d never be as nasty to a friend.

The good news is we can rewire our brains from a negative focus to a positive one by becoming aware and practicing different neural pathways. We can take in our good, receive compliments, and not fear them. We can change this societal norm.

A more positive focus increases the beneficial chemical cascade within our bodies.

When we’re offered acknowledgement and praise it’s a gift another wants to share.

The most gracious thing we can do is to receive the gift with gratitude. In this, we acknowledge the other, but we also acknowledge ourselves. It’s OK to feel good about yourself.

What would it be if we were to graciously accept the gift of compliments offered with a simple, sincere thank you?

I dare you to try.

This is your challenge for the week. Only the brave dare attempt this challenge.


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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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