Then just pay me a compliment.
My mind immediately goes to everything I have ever done that didn’t measure up. I cannot hear the “good job” because my head is filled with “You don’t deserve this,” or “it’s only a matter of time before people figure out I am a fraud or imposter.”
With all that in my head, I cannot hear “good job.”
Now I have been working on this. I understand that my minimizing the “good job,” and maximizing the “you are an imposter,” is the work of my depression. Using unhelpful thinking styles, depression has a track record with me of keeping all the positives to a minimum.
Depression knows that by giving me a compliment, it can send me to guilt and shame.
It doesn’t make sense. Yet here I am, time after time, running from “good job” to “you aren’t good enough.” And I have spent my entire life doing this. Negating the positive about myself, I wallow in the moments where I failed, where I did not make the best decision.
Why do I listen to depression instead of “good job?”
The reality of the situation is almost always that a compliment leaves me feeling embarrassed. Often, I feel like it is what I am supposed to be doing, so I should not be complimented for doing my job. And as I live my life, I should not be complimented for “doing unto others, what I would have done to me. (or words to that effect.)”
Recently, I interviewed for a new position within the company I work for.
Yesterday, I found out I had gotten the promotion. My current boss sent out an announcement to the staff and posted a copy at the time clock. Within minutes, the congratulations began pouring in. “Congratulation,” “well deserved,” “you will be missed,” “we are all proud of you.”
Please join me in congratulating Joel on his promotion to Assistant General Manager. While Joel has only been with us for a short time, his impact on our success has been phenomenal. While I hate to lose such a great team member, I couldn’t be happier for him and this career opportunity.
JM General Manager
“Thank you” has been my response to those who congratulate me in person.
Understanding my go-to response is “aw shucks, I don’t deserve this,” I am pleased I can say thank you without belittling the compliment or myself. I was able to do that for six hours yesterday. My plan is to steel myself for the responses to my promotion when I arrive at work today.
Maybe it is true.
Perhaps I am doing a good job. After all, I have had this type of positive response every time I have moved to a different building within the company. Comments such as “who will get things done for us once you leave?” and “I have learned so much from you” have been common. You would think that after hearing these positive comments over the course of 40+ years, I would get it.
But clearly, I have not figured it out, and no one understands why better than depression.
My therapist and I have been exploring this for the past few sessions. He even gave me homework that has helped me to see the unhelpful thinking I am using to block the core emotion of joy. Dancing for joy has not been something I have done in many years.
Now there were times earlier in my life where I allowed joy into my daily life.
But now, I have blocked it. I am putting up defenses against feeling a core emotion. My change triangle has me using guilt, to keep me from experiencing the joy of hearing “good job.”
By blocking joy with unhelpful thinking, I think I am saving myself from something. Oh, I know, it is being an imposter. Ok, so I have done a few things. Maybe I have helped a few people. Maybe my style of management brings out the best in others. Perhaps I even have inspired someone to see their potential.
Now I am back to, “well isn’t that what we are supposed to do?”
Yet I see that many people do not do that. They use others as stepping stones to promote themselves and their agenda’s. And they do not care how others feel as long as their personal needs are met. I see these people doing the CYA maneuver. And they are good at it, sometimes to the point of making others cry. I cannot do that.