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5 Tips to take a compliment & self-applaud

Guadalupe Hirt, 47, Co-Founder & CCO of SecondAct|Women

Does this scenario sound familiar?

Sam: “Great job on your presentation today, Alice.”

Alice: “You think? I don’t think I did a good job. I stumbled over my words and at times I don’t think I even made sense. I could’ve done a better job.”

Why do women struggle to take a freakin’ compliment AND self-applaud their hard work and everything that did go right? Believe me, I’m not throwing the first stone because I used to be a repeat offender on this front, but ever since I started my spiritual journey at 45, something inside me awoke. And while, I can’t put my finger on what exactly changed, this quote by Maya Angelou perfectly summarizes my “active training protocol” to scenarios like these:

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

As women 40 & 50+, the imaginary bar is set high. In fact, I bet that, we’ve all murmured these judgy, hyper-critical words to ourselves at some point in the last year, “I expected to be farther along at this age.” This stab myself in the eye statement can apply to career, relationships, love life, financial well-being, health, appearance, and the list goes on. But where is it written that you hit this age and all imaginary boxes should be checked or you’re a loser? Or you have to nail every single presentation or you’re a lost cause? Or you have to match the job description 100% or don’t bother applying. Or you’re not worthy of a compliment so deflect and belittle yourself instead. What the hell ladies?

In the opening scenario, what if instead of countering the compliment, you just said “thank you” and smiled. What if you gave yourself props for everything you did right in the presentation versus honing in on the things that didn’t go as planned? The reality is that no one (I don’t care who you think you are) is perfect. We are all varying degrees of hot messes.

Stop trying to have all your sh*t together for the sake of saving face, pleasing others, meeting social BS standards and just live life on your own terms. Celebrate the badass woman you are and the many gifts and talents you bring to whatever you choose to put your time and effort into.

Instead of measuring yourself against an imaginary bar, stop and realize you are exactly where you are supposed to be right now, at this very moment. Don’t let society, family, friends, work hijack your timeline. Resist. Push back. Your timeline is yours and yours alone, and you are the author of your story. Not them.

Instead of trying to meet someone else’s expectations, focus on meeting your own and vow to re-prioritize who you commit to keeping happy, healthy, safe, and loved.

That vow “to love and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part” should actually be a vow you recite to yourself! And if you find yourself not keeping up your end of the bargain, step up your game or put yourself on the couch.

If you solemnly swore to abide by and uphold this vow, I can almost guarantee that you would think twice about belittling yourself ever again or deflecting a compliment with anything else but a thank you. Isn’t that the way it should be? I think yes, you?

Here’s 5 tips to help you take a compliment and self-applaud the badass woman you are at 40 & 50+:

  1. Be a proton. Positive attracts positive. There is enough negative bullsh*t in the world today, don’t add more to your plate. Counter every negative thing you tell yourself with a positive, preferably when it happens.
  2. Brag like a queen. Bragging is perceived as a bad thing; I chock it off to a generational thought we sadly, were all taught. Time to tweak that idea. Create a brag folder to keep track of all the amazing little and big things you do every single day. A brag folder sets you apart from others and is an ongoing comprehensive guide to your professional and personal achievements. Whenever you need it, bust it out and peruse it with a glass of vino.
  3. Cheerleading squad of one. Getting a compliment from someone can really make your day, but why not make your own day? What? Yes, girl, yes. At a very minimum, start and end your day with a self-compliment like: “You are so intelligent, and I love how you showed up during that presentation.” “You are a wonderful, considerate, and caring person.” “You look on fire today.” The end goal: remind yourself who you are and be proud of who you are.
  4. Life is a box of chocolates. Stop trying to measure up to what other people expect when they open up that box. Nobody knows you better than you AND nobody can take better care of you than you! Learn to accept yourself, imperfections and all and live life boldly, beautifully and on your terms. Don’t be someone else’s checked box.
  5. Just say thank you. When someone pays you a compliment, smile and just say thank you…period. No need to disprove their compliment or go into pity party mode. They saw something in you that maybe you didn’t, so simply accept the compliment and go about your business.

Guadalupe Hirt (46) is the co-founder and CCO of SecondActWomen. Founded to rescript the social narrative that women 40 & 50+ are past their prime, SecondActWomen is an IRL and virtual club platform that doubles as a resource hub and community support system to spur the careers, business ventures and big ideas of women in middlescence.