Home > Ramblings > You can love me as much as you want – Receiving compliments

You can love me as much as you want – Receiving compliments

These are just some personal thoughts that relate to the typical traits of performers and entertainers. Click here for all of my other ramblings.

Receiving compliments is a problem for many of us. Yet I’ve observed that it’s particularly the case with those people who crave positive attention more than others. This seems counter-intuitive. I knew a Japanese girl who cooked, drew, dance, and acted better then anybody else I ever met. Though you would believe that her talents would make her feel confident, she would constantly worry about how people perceived her. If you tried to actually give her a compliment, she’d deny, downplay, or rationalise the comment. I sometimes wondered whether it came from the Japanese culture of humility and modesty. Was it her perfectionism? Just general low-esteem?

Stand-up comedian and actor Kevin Pollack often speaks about this strange habit on his internet talk show. He observed that many entertainers, especially comedians, have the tendency to reject compliments, despite obsessively craving positive attention. One of his guests, stand-up comedian Chris Hardwick, gave a particularly damning opinion on this behaviour. A person tries to tell you how much he appreciates your work, and you take that moment away from them. It’s born out of a narcistic motive to draw further attention to yourself, even if you sacrifice the positive attention for more negative attention.

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This reminded me of German philosopher, Richard David Precht’ views on love. I used to think that only receiving love made you happy, but Precht pointed to the other part of the equation. Having someone to love is just as important for your happiness. In some cases, it is even more important then receiving love. Receiving and giving admiration is a form of love, so you can think of receiving compliments this way: It’s less important that you are receiving compliments. It means a lot more to the one giving the compliments. Even if you feel that the compliments are wrong or over-blown, try not to take away the moment for the person. It makes the other person feel bad, and you end up looking bad in the process. Say thank you and don’t argue with the person who thinks you’re great.

Another stand-up guest on Kevin Pollack’s chat show, Gregg Proops, said something similar about charismatic actors like Will Smith or Warren Beatty. These actors seemed to signal “It’s all okay now. I’m here now, and you can love me as much as you want.” I found that line fascinating, because I would have listed the fame, talent, or good looks of these actors, but Proops focused on the way they receive attention.

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I have met a few people that signal this kind of openness (it’s very rare), but the best example would be my aunt’s dog, who had more love to share then any other living thing I ever met. Imagine you come home from work, having fought all day with the demands of colleagues and coworker. Or you come home from school after having a big fight with one of your friends. Whatever happened to you that day, your dog is waiting for you, happy to see you, ready to be petted. Of course you feel good that someone is happy to see you (perhaps the first living thing to do so that day), the simplicity of the dog’s love could be more important. A dog’s love is unconditional. It comes to you, ready to be petted and cuddled. This rarely exists with people, who typically have difficult, even contradicting demands. If we do find a person with this open quality, then we seem to be drawn to them in an intense way.

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