How to accept compliment (even about your body)
Good morning loves, I’m on holiday for a few days in France. It’s a beautiful morning and I just clambered out of a tent to see some incredible morning mist rising from the lake I’m camped next to. I’m away with my new boyfriend and it’s our first trip abroad together. The relationship isn’t that new (it’s not like I met him yesterday) but it’s still new for me because for a long time (8 years) I was in a relationship which ended earlier this year. I haven’t shared anything about this aspect of my life with you yet although I’ve wanted to. I’ve particularly wanted to write about the feelings about my body that have been coming up since starting this new relationship but I wasn’t ready to share them - until now.
I’ve been doing this work for a really long time - and I thought I’d conquered pretty much all of my body demons. Turns out, when it came to sex and relationship I definitely hadn’t!
I’d been so comfy on my old relationship that this part of myself hadn’t had to develop. I got into a relationship at 26 and didn’t have to think about getting naked with anyone new until I hit 34! That’s one hell of a comfort blanket. When that support scaffolding was removed, I had to put myself out there anew - and well, it turns out that those demons from my teenage years and twenties hadn’t gone away, they’d just been sleeping.
Suddenly there was a part of me (the naked, with a hot new lover part) that felt insecure, inadequate and like my body wasn’t worthy of pleasure.
Despite being showered with more love, praise and sexual interactions than I’d had in years, I found that my body insecurities were putting up a barrier up to the compliments and kind words. And I was embarrassed.
My book was just coming out, I’ve built a business on coaching women how to love themselves and how to say ‘fuck you’ to anything that makes them feel less than worthy. But here I was, years down the line from where I first started - coming up against insecurities which I thought I’d long conquered.
While I felt like a hot piece in my clothes, the new connection (read: nakedness) triggered such a deep vulnerability that I felt, at times, like I was back to square one of my journey. I was moving my body in ways I thought were more flattering, I was moving his hand away from parts I thought he shouldn’t touch, I was embarrassed by how my flesh rolled and folded. And I hated it.
I hated how I was allowed my old thoughts and habits to return. I hated how I was judging my body against a mythical standard of others and I hated how unworthy of this attention I felt.
It was strange to feel that I was deserving of love but not feeling worthy of pleasure.
I had to dig deep to work through these feelings. I knew it was important not only for my own journey - but also because I know that I’m not alone in finding it hard to accept the love, pleasure and kind words of a lover or loved one.
It’s now a good few months down the line and I’m still working through my demons but I’m almost there. I wanted to share this story with you because I want you to know that this work, well, it’s the work of a lifetime. And that healing isn’t linear - sometimes you can think you’ve done it all but then something will trigger you and you’ll feel right back where you started. That’s OK. That’s all part of it. I’m still learning - and I’ve learned that self-esteem can be 100% in some areas of your life but failing in others - and that’s OK too. The key is to stay non-judgemental to wherever you are on your path and just keep putting on foot in front of the other.
I’ll be writing more about this part of my own journey again, but for now, here are my top five tips for accepting the words of a loved one:
Believe your partner. I know this is hard but try to believe your partner when they say that they think you (and your body) are delicious. Even if you don’t see what they see, believe that they mean the things that they’re saying. Try to stop yourself from immediately countering their words with negativity or tell them that they’re wrong. Your partner is being sincere when they say kind things to you. Trust is a really important part of a relationship, so don’t bat away the compliment. Simply say thank you (even if it’s hard) and lean into the trust you have for them to do (and say) the right thing for you and your relationship.
Remember that the beauty standard and thin ideal is (fucking) nonsense. Do not under estimate how much the images we see in magazines, fillms and on Instagram are doctored. All bodies are worthy of love and sex and pleasure, including yours.
Tell the bitch to leave the room (in your own thoughts). Don’t let your inner critic beat up your body esteem. Note the mean thoughts you’re saying to yourself, let it go and replace it with something kinder e.g. I am worthy of love, I am working on my self-esteem, I am learning to accept myself.
Ask your partner to compliment you on other things apart from (and as well as) your body. While lovers like to compliment our bodies, these comments can be hardest to accept because of how harshly we judge ourselves. To help feel loved and to realise that you are so much more than your body (and that your partner will love all parts of you) ask them to compliment you on the other things that they love about you not just your body e.g. the way you make them laugh, or how much they love your brain,.
Look at the things you admire in others. They say that the things you admire in others are things we have in ourselves but can’t see yet. If you can find a role model who has a similar body type to you but you think that they’re sexy AF, try to emulate them. They have all of the same good stuff in you baby! Fake it till you make it.
Love Harri x