There was a short phase in college when I actively withheld praise from other young women.
Insecurity is a heck of a chokehold.
The people I admired the most I side-eyed the most. Feeling as though affirmation from my lips to their ears somehow robbed me of something. I would sit with my girlfriends and talk trash about other girls in the dorms reveling in a self-ordained measure of superiority. We were cuter, more popular, more interesting than those other girls. Those other girls hated us because they wanted to be one of us. I remember stepping out of my friendly nature like a snake sheds its skin. I became all the girls who had tormented me in middle and high school. I'd look a girl up and down or ignore her when all I really wanted was to smile at her and ask if we could be friends.
As I moved through school, dealt with depression, and my friendship circle waxed and waned from year to year, I spent an increased amount of time by myself in thought. I had nothing left to do but some soul-searching. All my silly behavior unfolded and I was presented with the choice to either keep being a mean girl or to give in, give up.
I chose the latter, making it a daily practice not to hold in compliments. To let others know the good about themselves as often as I could. I remember stepping away from my clique more frequently to speak to people I wouldn't have with the group. I started making the decision to
Not only did it shock others and make them feel good, it made me feel good. It became an ongoing lesson that everyone can shine and no one will be the lesser for it.
So I say: Affirm people today. Don't wait. Tell them what they've done right. Tell them that their skin is glowing. Tell them that their presentation was amazing. Tell them they're one of the most compassionate people you've ever met. Tell them they're a wonderful parent. Tell them they inspire you. Tell them you love them. Tell them you see them becoming a CEO. Tell them their hairstyle rocks. Tell them you want to get to know them. Why let such a special moment pass? I'm a witness to the fact that the more genuine compliments I allow myself the honor of giving out, the better my life feels.
Speaking positively to and about others is a divine act. You don't know what God is doing for them (or you) by you simply having the guts and heart to speak life to them. We fight mental and emotional and spiritual wars so regularly that to hear someone speak so positively to us is a disarming treat and it stays with us.
Give that good energy away, good people. And I promise, it will multiply.