“Praise is like sunlight to the human spirit: we cannot flower and grow without it.” ~Jess Lair
As a person who battles low self-esteem, it seems like praise would be a wonderful thing. Praise should make me feel better about myself. It may help me to convince myself that I am competent. It may give me the confidence to try new things and to set new goals. But it doesn’t work that way in my case. The other day, I wrote about how I don’t believe my positive self-talk or affirmations. I think this is true about praise too. I don’t always believe it.
When I was in the 8th grade, my English teacher gave us a blank crossword puzzle template and gave us an assignment to fill it in and write clues. I remember how easy this was for me. I made 6 different puzzles while some kids had trouble making one. Kids and teachers were telling me how amazing I was. To me, I just thought that it was no big deal, nothing special. In that same year, we had a tryout in band and we had to play over 50 short pieces with different rhythms and key signatures. We had to play as many as we could until we made a mistake. I was sitting first chair clarinet so I had to play it first. I played the whole thing and the kids applauded. I didn’t think it was such a big deal. I assumed that a lot of kids would play through the whole thing but nobody did except the snare drummer, and he didn’t have to worry about the notes.
When I receive praise, I wonder if people are just being nice to me. I don’t give myself credit for doing something well. I usually think that I could have done better or that other people could have done it just as well. Like it was nothing special.
I started a new job 49 weekdays ago. It is the kind of job where not only is my plate full, it is also a very large plate. There are times when I feel like I get it and times when I don’t get it at all. I feel like I am trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together but I have no idea what the completed puzzle is supposed to look like. I have received a good deal of praise from my boss, my coworkers, and from the people I serve. One person even said I am the perfect person for the job. But I feel like I am not doing enough, I’m not learning fast enough, I should get it by now. It’s been 7 whole weeks already. The words of praise are nice but they don’t sink in.
Rather than question praise, deny it, negate it, I am going to work hard on accepting it as a gift. After all, it is meant to be a gift to me from someone who appreciates me. People who praise me see my value. So why can’t I?