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Focusing on the Positive and Learning to Accept Compliments


“Thank You.” Why is that so hard to say? Why is a compliment so hard to accept? I have never been great at taking a compliment, but since my surgeries, I am even less able to simply say, “Thank you.” I have difficulty taking credit for my accomplishments and yet find it astonishingly easy to beat myself for my perceived failures. No more.

Since my second surgery, I have lost 149 pounds. With a bionic back, I have dropped 20 clothing sizes, eliminated my high cholesterol and hypertension, lost almost 50% of my weight and more than 40% of my body fat. Yet, ironically, when I weigh-in each week, rather than look at the incredible accomplishment I have achieved, I concentrate on the weeks when I do not lose, or the fact that my underarms still have some jiggle to them. When complimented on my weight loss, I downplay my accomplishment, offering explanations along with a healthy dose of self-deprecation. No more. The next time I am complimented on my weight loss, or told I look good, I shall say, “Thank you.”

Since having a multi-level spinal fusion in February 2012, I went from hardly being able to take ten steps, to Zumba and kickboxing 5 times a week, lifting weights and, in general, being in kick-butt shape. Friends and family tell me: “you look like nothing happened to you, like you are healed.” Rather than focus on the leaps and bounds I have made in physical therapy, I concentrate on the days when I cannot get out of bed, when I can’t get to a workout because of pain. No more. I fought tooth and nail to get myself back into shape. I do 7-8 hours of physical therapy a week. I walked out of the wheelchair and I did it one step at a time. The next time I am complimented on my recovery, I shall say, “Thank you.”

I have fought with mood swings and depression since I was a teenager. This past  half  year has been he!l on my emotions going through a divorce, cutting back on pain medication. I could have succumbed to depression and truly given up, but I fight, every day, to keep my sanity and to not give in to the loud voice in my head that tells me that I should give up, stay in bed, cry all day. I have been told, many times, “I don’t know how you do it. I would never get out of bed.” But, rather than focusing on the depression and the mood swings that I do control, I focus on the days when I can’t control it. I focus on those days when my moods get the best of me and I cry, or yell, or give in. I forget that out of 30 days, I got through 28 of them without breaking down and I beat myself up about the day that I lost control. No more. I work very hard to control my emotions. I fight against the depression as best I can, as often as I can. The next time I am complimented on ability to fend off depression, I shall say “Thank you.”

Every day is a battle in the war against life with chronic pain. Rather than focus on the wins, I concentrate on the losses. No more. I will try to take credit for the war that I am winning, not the battles I have lost and when I am complimented on my accomplishments, I shall say “Thank you.”

Image courtesy of my personal website and is copyrighted to the author.

Focusing on the Positive and Learning to Accept Compliments

Tracy Rydzy MSW, LSW

My name is Tracy and I am a licensed social worker. I was working as a Social Worker, when an emergency spinal surgery 2 years ago changed my life and my career. I live with chronic pain and, as a result, I have taken my social work and writing skills, and made them into this blog. This blog is a humorous, informative, no-holds barred honest look at life with chronic pain, depression and disability.”

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APA Reference
Rydzy MSW, T. (2014). Focusing on the Positive and Learning to Accept Compliments. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 15 Jan 2014
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