One of the things I love about my day job, is that I get to meet lots of different women. I love hearing about peoples stories and journeys. Last week I was chatting to a client about the power of words and how something that might seem to small, can hold so much weight in someones life.
She went on to tell me, some time ago a friend of hers went through a really difficult relationship breakdown, and it took months for her find herself again. She was in pain, lost, struggling, all of those horrible things that you experience after a relationship falls apart. She wasn't taking care of herself, and due to stress, lost a lot of weight. She wasn't sleeping, and in a downward spiral of self loathing.
During this time a 'friend' and I use that term incredibly loosely, said to her, 'my god, depression looks good on you!'. Wow. Just wow. Luckily the woman going through the breakup was strong enough to not take this onboard as a compliment, and told the 'friend' exactly how inappropriate that was, but that's not always the case. For someone in a vulnerable position, this could be exactly the justification they are looking for to continue the way the are.
She could have been giving her friend permission to neglect herself.
I'm pretty certain that this isn't something that many people would say, but it applies on all levels. What about when your friend looses lots of weight quickly after having a baby, and you justify it by saying 'wow you look incredible', all the while she is stressed, not getting enough sleep and doesn't have time to prepare her meals. Is that saying that she looks better when she's stressed and exhausted, as apposed to when she's taking care of herself, and maybe a little heavier?
How about you compliment her on the fact that her baby seems to be doing really well, and offer some support if she needs it?
With all of this being said, I would hate to hold back from complimenting someone because I'm afraid I might be encouraging something that I shouldn't be., but for starters
How about complimenting people on who they are, not what they look like?
Like that amazing achievement they just made, or that they seem happy, or their friendship with you? Maybe they've just decided to go in a new career direction? Maybe they did something brave?
Put effort into your words, and look past what you see on the surface.
Since I've been old enough to understand, my mum has always said to me, it's a good idea not to compliment children, on what they look like. Rather what they do, and who they are. To ask them about school, kindy, their favourite book or sport. Focusing on image just reiterates it as a way to justify ourselves, who knows how much this effects children for later in life.
Today I am focusing on complimenting people on who they are, and what makes them a beautiful person on the inside. I'd love you to join me! Share your thoughts on this topic below, and lets offer love and encouragement in the right places!