Just take the freakin’ compliment Part 2

So, as I thought about yesterday’s post it occurred to me that I didn’t actually offer any tips or ideas or insights that might help others dealing with similar issues. So this is just a few bullet points of what helped me. Your mileage may vary and believe me I’m not a professional so this is a very idiosyncratic list.

  • Train yourself to consciously accept compliments. This is both simpler and much more difficult than it seems. I think so many of us program ourselves (or are programmed) to consider compliments as dangerous because they draw attention to us. We’re afraid that being noticed will bring negative reactions from peers or rivals. It can lead to teasing and other less pleasant reactions. However I think we all need to say “Screw that!” in a loud, confident voice. We need to consciously stop those negative inner critics and allay our fears about the reactions of others and embrace those compliments for what they are – recognition of our efforts and hard work. They are verbal “Atta girls” and need to be treated as such – not as time bombs that might go off unexpectedly producing collateral damage.
  • Help others who suffer from the same issues. We all know people who respond in the same way to compliments – they deflect, self-deprecate and psychologically shuffle their feet. A nice, quiet, friendly reminder that they do deserve the “Atta girl” can go a long way towards healing that wound. Listen to what you tell them and then tell yourself the same thing the next time an occasion arises.
  • Remember that confidence is not the same as braggadocio. Next time you see a cocky, swaggering, bragging colleague or friend, look into their eyes or really listen to their voice. I’m betting you have someone who is just as fearful and mistrustful of compliments as you are they just process it differently. Try allaying their fears that no one will notice their hard work unless they draw attention to themselves. Help soothe the frightened beast that is convinced no one really appreciates them. Sometimes roaring is simply a way to gain attention. It’s a different approach to the same insecurities and self-doubts.
  • Considering that I use Tarot for so many things, naturally I work with them to address this issue too. There are a few ways to do this. One is a simple, straightforward reading on the topic focusing on what the roots of this insecurity are and how to heal it. Another technique that I’ve found useful is to use the cards to have conversations with yourself – your “inner child”, your inner fears, call them what you like. Sit down with a cuppa tea (or bottle of beer if that’s more your style) and ask questions. After each question pull a card and think about what the answer is. Treat it as though it’s an answer from the entity or part of yourself that you questioned. It’s amazing the results you can get from this technique because it bypasses many of our built in defenses and can reveal what we’ve been hiding from ourselves.
  • Friends and support networks are also invaluable in overcoming this. I’ve had amazing conversations with friends who will spontaneously volunteer compliments about my skills or knowledge. It’s gratifying and touching to realize that people whose opinions you value see you in such a valued way.

There are lots of other tools out there that can help with this issue. The self-help shelves in bookstores have lots of offerings (well the few brick & mortar bookstores that are left). I’m sure your local library will have some options or can borrow them for you through inter-library loan. Self-help groups and/or counseling can also provide beneficial insights and techniques if that’s your preference. The bottom line is to actively tackle the problem not let it continue to dominate your life. Yes, it can be a cheesy, over-used line in self-help circles but the bottom line is that you are worth it, you do have value. The trick is convincing yourself of that fact.

Transformational Sun

Transformational Sun

Transformational Tarot
Created by by Arnell Ando
Published by US Games (2006)
ISBN:1572815396

The Book says: Powerful energy that gives a source of strength. It brightens surrounding cards bringing a sense of optimism. A time of growth and rekindled enthusiasm. Achievements acknowledged, success, happiness and true friends. Celebration. A deepening of one’s awareness. A time of creativity.
Reversed: The card warns of one being blinded by ambition and experiencing a possible burnout.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: There is a sense of sweetness and comfort from this card. The children roam in the garden, unafraid and joyful in their surroundings. The sunflowers bloom offering beauty, hope and warmth to the day. The solar father overhead watches his children and guards them from harm. This card brings to mind a time of innocence and youthful energy, or potential and possibilities. Each sunflower represents a possible choice. The children wandering the garden have the opportunity to select whichever one they desire. They are like the newly ripened fruit bursting with seeds just waiting to be planted. Their energy, nourishment and guidance comes from the blessings and support of the solar father. The children also represent the future and a new day dawning. Right now they are carefree and playful, learning the lessons of life. But eventually their day in the sun will come and they will become the leaders and the parents, guarding and protecting the seeds of the next generation.

Showing the Universe how to treat you

A few weeks ago while chatting with someone about the low self-esteem of a family member I was struck by a thought – the way we dress, carry ourselves and interact with others shows the Universe how to treat us. If we slump, wear ill-fitting or worn clothing and try to act invisible we are telling others we are not worthy of their time. This can often result in others ignoring us or treating us with thoughtless cruelty. As shallow as it may sound, we judge books by their covers all the time and a book that has a torn and frayed cover and yellowed pages sends a very different impression than one with crisp, clean pages and a new cover.

DruidCraft Queen of Swords

This makes me consider how I present myself to others. My style of dress is decidedly casual. I find that when I try for more dramatic or flowy pieces I feel as though I’m wearing a costume. I gave up wearing certain colors (black, grey, navy and classic red) a long time ago for a variety of reasons. One of the primary ones is that I realized that these colors have become de rigeur for those who try to proclaim themselves as chic Manhattanites, as a native New Yorker I decided that I don’t need to wear certain colors to prove my bona fides. If my personality doesn’t prove my birthplace then nothing will.

I also have a bit of a swagger when I walk. I have patterned my walk on my father’s. I didn’t realize this until my husband pointed it out to me. When I thought about it I realized that I was trying to project an image of a tough customer – someone not worth treating as prey. When I was younger I was raped and afterwards I tried to make myself invisible, unnoticeable. That just seemed to make things worse. It was as if I had put a sign on my back saying “easy mark”. I drew all sorts of inappropriate and even frightening attention. Once I decided to carry myself as though I was a 6’2″ bruiser (my father was a large, imposing man) I found that this behavior dramatically decreased. Despite working in some rather sketchy areas as part of my job, I was never threatened or harmed. I unconsciously seem to have tapped into creating a glamour – I sent out energy that gave predators the message that I was a risky target.

All of this is my rather long way of explaining what I mean about showing the Universe how I will be treated. When I acted as though I was a frightened mouse too afraid of my own shadow I became prey. Once I showed the predators that I might be dangerous, they stayed away. I walked with a brisk pace, appeared alert to my surroundings and make sure I held my purse in a way that would make it difficult to snatch. I also carried pepper spray or something I could use as a defensive measure in case the glamour failed. Perhaps when we are bullied or treated badly it is because we are sending out subtle signals that the bullies of the world pick up. I remember a Simpsons episode in which Lisa discovers that “nerds” send out pheromones that attracts the attention of bullies. Who knows, perhaps this is what happens. Maybe when we lack self-esteem and consider ourselves different and worthless freaks we send out some kind of signal to the bullies of the world. If we start to change our perceptions of ourselves and show it in our dress, behavior and attitude, we will find that the Universe begins to treat us differently too. Channel your inner Queen of Wands! Show the world that you are confident, strong and worth honoring. It certainly can’t hurt to try.

Wheel of Change Queen of Wands

Celtic Wisdom Protector

Celtic Wisdom Protector

Celtic Wisdom Tarot
Text by Caitlin Matthews, art by Olivia Raynor
Destiny Books, 1999
ISBN 0-89281-720-8

The Book says: The Protector shows Belenus on the right and Dis Pater on the left, with the chalk-hill figure of Epona, making a strong protector triad upon the hillside leading to the Otherworldly Plain of Delight. Belenus (The Shining One) gave his name to the festival of Beltane, or the “fires of Bel”, when May and the bright half of the year is celebrated. Dis Pater was the Father of the Ancestors, the one who welcomes the dead to the summerlands. The White Horse of Uffington in England shows the dynamic, liberating presence of Epona, who opens the door to the summerlands. An introduced tree, the Apple became immediately widespread and has an important place in folklore.
Keywords: Wholeness, happiness, attainment, success, simple joy and pleasures, devotion, fortunate meetings, gratitude for life, marriage, good health, openness, sincerity, safety after peril, contented circumstances.
Reversed: Hollowness, unhappiness, broken engagements or relationships, intolerance of shadows, such as inability to accept death, political correctness taken to extremes, no change to enjoy life, lack of fulfillment, maintaining the status quo.
Soul-Wisdom: Who are you in your true self?

TarotBroad’s Buzz: Looking at this card I sense its sizzling energy. The Sun is radiant and bursting with life, apples frame the solar face, swirling spirals appear in two spots and the white horse seems to be preparing to charge off the card. It zips and zings with radiance and energy. The figures on the card represent three different Celtic deities – Belenus, Dis Pater and Epona. I found this interesting because this card is composed predominantly of male imagery but the word for Sun in Gaelic is feminine. However there is no evidence that the Celts actually had a specifically solar deity. They had many deities whose names meant shining or light but they were not solar deities per se. Epona is considered a horse goddess and, like many Celtic goddesses associated with horses, may also be connected with sovereignty and solar energies (Rhiannon, Macha, etc.) but is not a Sun goddess. Epona also has the honor of being the only Celtic deity worshipped in Rome in her own right, without being merged with a Roman god first. She had her place in the sun.

Looking at this card, I see a supplicant honoring Epona beneath the rays of a benevolent sun. The supplicant is thanking his gods for all that is positive in his life and the blessings brought to his family. He understands the cycle of life and realizes that with the good comes the bad and that change is part of the natural order but he appreciates when things are going well for him and wishes to acknowledge and thank the gods. This card offers a sense of contentment and pleasure, being on a green hillside beneath the rays of the sun. It suggests the blessings of the gods upon the supplicant and upon the land and by extension upon us all. It reminds us to celebrate and embrace our moments in the sun, our time in the spotlight, because it will inevitably change some day.

Wheel of Change Sun

Wheel of Change Sun

Wheel of Change Tarot
created by Alexandra Gennetti
Published by Destiny Books, 1997
ISBN #0-89281-609-0

The Book says: When you have drawn this card in your reading; it is a time of recognition for you. You have just been able to see the independence of something against the complex background of the world. Perhaps this is something inside of you, but it need not be. You realize that because you are now able to see that the individuality of all people is the issue and that any relationship is between two separate individuals. We are each traveling our own path and experiencing a brief moment called life. It is a learning journey, and the light of the sun is the light within each of us that grows brighter and then dimmer as we travel. The Sun is a metaphor for the recognition of individuality, both our own and others. When the Sun is part of your reading, it is a time of new beginnings, and like the winter solstice it is a time when the warm light within you grows stronger.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: This card is reminder of the possibilities of new beginnings and the potential present in every child. I worked with children on a daily basis and it was wonderful to see the untapped possibilities present in each of their faces. Their Sun energy shone so brightly and so strongly that you believed they could accomplish anything. These two children, standing together holding hands, would almost be a perfect symbol for unity and racial harmony. They represent hope for a bright future and the youthful joy and exuberance symbolized by the sun. They are also a reminder that each time we begin a new project or pursue a new path in our lives we are tapping into this solar energy. Think about how excited we become about new opportunities and new interests in our lives. On a smaller level, I feel this way each time I get a new deck of Tarot cards. There is the excitement of getting something new, the joy of becoming acquainted, the new sense of inspiration and enthusiasm. When we gain new insight into our lives or to a situation, we are feeling the Sun’s energy.

The Sun is so full of hope, joy and exuberance that it brings a smile to the face. Have you ever walked outdoors on a warm sunny day and turned your face to the sun, just enjoying its warmth and light? Have you ever watched a sunrise or sunset and just been awed by the gorgeous colors streaming across the sky? Whenever I feel myself shining and bristling with confidence and energy, I know I’m channeling the Sun’s energy. The Sun represents our chance to dazzle others with our brilliance and revel in our accomplishments; our time to enjoy our place in the spotlight. We should all experience moments when we are truly the center of our own universe.

This card is also a reminder that although we all need to work together for certain goals, we are individuals. When we join forces we do not meld into one being; we are separate but joined like pieces of a puzzle. I can also see this being the key to equality in our lives. We don’t all need to be the same, we just need to accept that each of us has a value and worth. Even in any relationship in our lives, we do not truly merge with that person or those people. We retain our individuality, our separate beliefs, attitudes and ideas. If we don’t we run the risk of becoming too dependant or getting involved in an abusive relationship. The Sun is both a symbol of hope, a sense of self and future possibilities.

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