Friday, January 23, 2015

I Feel Bad About Myself? Not!

Last week, I drove a customer home from the car dealership I work for as a shuttle driver. We had a lovely conversation, but near the end we began to talk about her car, a 2003 Toyota Camry with only 100,000 miles on it. As someone who hears the stories of this brand's longevity every single work day, I’m well aware that her car most likely had many thousands of miles in it. However, she spent a great deal of time explaining why she didn’t want to spend the money on a new car.  I realized half way into it that she was following the same pattern many women do, at least American women, feeling bad about herself for external reasons.

I’m blown away by the nearly constant refrains of females rejecting compliments, pointing out their real or imagined shortcomings or explaining their actions to anyone who will listen. I don’t have enough exposure to other nationalities to judge if this is a trait restricted to the U.S.A. or a part of the feminine psyche, but it’s very unfortunate either way.

How many times have you hear a lady carefully refute praise of her outfit or haircut or almost anything else by proclaiming the problems with it or the age of her clothes, etc.? When it’s appropriate I’ll  comment back that she should just accept the compliment. Often, this promotes a shy enjoyment of the approval given.

The late Nora Ephron’s book I Feel Bad About My Neck focused, in part, on this phenomenon. In fact, my personal awareness of that phrase made me anxious to read the book. Of course, it was about much more that her dismay at the state of her neck, but I recognized the universal nature of this female mindset in the title.

Why is it that we women have such a hard time accepting kudos? Why do we feel we have to argue with the admiration? Whatever the reason, let’s just stop! Let’s consciously make an attempt to change this old habit. Instead of the “this old thing?” responses, let’s joyfully accept commendations and praise. Let’s KNOW in our hearts that our hair does look good today or we DID do a great job or that this IS truly the best chicken our guest has ever had. Let’s own our excellence, attractiveness and good works!

Repeat after me, I feel bad about myself? No way!


  1. Women of a certain age have been trained to be submissive and to place ourselves second in any situation. This is why so many of us cannot accept a compliment. We are trained to be "less than" and anything that contradicts that must be dismissed lest we seem "bold and brazen."

    It is akin to being a member of the "clean plate" club. It is deeply ingrained and part of the dominant paradigm. We do need to step out of this role, reclaim our self worth by accepting compliments and realizing that we are competent human being who can make decisions without having to explain ourselves to anyone.

    Nice blog post!

  2. Great comment! Thank you. I'm sure you're correct that it is age-related, now that I think about it.