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Hearing Compliments

Posted Mar 17 2009 3:53pm
Remember a few weeks ago when I had the root canal and temporary crown? Today I got the real crown put on – it’s porcelain and everything and polished with a real diamond finish. My new tooth is worth more than my Jeep! I always tell my husband I married him for his dental insurance.

Anyway, a strange and ponderous thing happened while my dentist was digging around in my mouth. He paid me a compliment, and I had to sit there and take it and not say a word because, well, his fingers and his assistant’s fingers, and a water tube, suction tube and a drill were lodged in my mouth.

First a little background. My dentist and my husband are colleagues. Dr. Jimmy is the founder of a medical research company called Clarion Research Group of which my husband is the vice president. It’s a new venture, but one that has great promise for creating products that ease post-surgical mouth pain and which already produces something called VeinStay, a device that looks like a fork and holds a vein in place during a needle stick when drawing blood or hooking up an IV. It’s a godsend for people like me with difficult-to-stick veins. (Click here if you want to see a spiffy photo of Dr. Jimmy with Larry and click here to read about the vein fork)

So, back to my story. Dr. Jimmy told me I was a great patient with a great attitude and that he was grateful for my support of CRG. My first thought was, “I’m nothing special. I just do what I’m told. I don’t move, don’t bite, don’t swallow too much…isn’t that what you’re supposed to do in a dentist’s chair?” Only I couldn’t say it out loud and had to sit there and let him say nice things about me without my rebuttal.

Then I thought, Why do I need a rebuttal? Why can’t I just hear kind words about me? Jim is sincerely grateful for my support. He thinks I’m a good patient. Let that be enough, Lynn. Let that warm your heart. Take it in and believe him!

Then I started wondering (because I had at least another two hours in the chair) how many times in a day, a week, a month that I hear, or rather DON’T hear, the nice things people say or appreciate the nice things people do for me without feeling unworthy of their kindness?

Answer? Probably every time. But I’m vowing now to change that.

I challenge you to do the same. How many times do people pay you a compliment about your hair, your clothes, your smile, your weight loss, your form in an aerobics class? Now how many times do you smile, say thank you, and really reflect that good feeling back to yourself?

The next time you are paid a compliment, pretend you’re in Dr. Jimmy’s chair with tubes and fingers in your mouth and you can’t say a word. Let their words sink in. See you from their perspective. I hope you find it easier to do than I did today, but I’m thinking it’s probably hard for many of you, too. But try. It will give you a whole new appreciation for yourself seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes.

Dr. Jimmy’s a good guy. His compliment meant a lot to me. But I wouldn’t have heard it and appreciated it as much if his finger’s hadn’t been lodged in my mouth. Sometimes it takes brute force to hear the good stuff about ourselves.
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