Most people in the U.S. believe that it’s socially inappropriate to ask for or even subtly hint at a need for compliments. There are many reasons for this, among them that the compliment would supposedly not be heartfelt if you asked for it, that it’s self involved or selfish to want to hear nice things about yourself, or that it puts the person you’re asking in an awkward and uncomfortable position and is therefore rude. But at the heart of it seems to be the idea that needing validation or wanting someone to say something nice is vain, and only people who are shallow, manipulative, or not very nice would try to get other people to say nice things about them.
Excuse my French, but that is a big old pile of bullshit.
It’s a very human need to want validation and kindness from others. Very few people are capable of thinking nice things about themselves all the time, and in many other circumstances it’s considered normal and acceptable to ask for help if you can’t think of an idea for something, if you don’t know how to do something, or if you just need it. Asking someone to say something nice about you is a way of asking for help. In most cases, it’s shorthand for “I am having a hard time seeing nice things about me right now and I’d like to get an outside perspective. Can you help?”
Even in the cases where it’s not, it just straight out feels good to have someone compliment you, or to know why they like you, or to know what you do that’s helpful and welcomed. All of those things not only feel good but also give you important information about what other people like and what you can capitalize on in your personality. And (here’s the important part) there’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel good about yourself. There’s nothing wrong with asking other people to help you feel good about yourself. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have an external source of validation and kindness sometimes. And it’s never wrong to ask for something if you’re feeling like it would improve your life.
I am utterly perplexed by the idea that it’s inappropriate to ask the people who are your friends/family/support system WHY they are that. People who choose to be in your life do so for a reason, and they choose to be around you. Those choices shouldn’t be a taboo subject, from either end. Not only should it be 100% ok to ask a friend for a pick me up, it should also not be considered weird to out of the blue tell a friend why you love them because that is information that is helpful, important, kind, and just good for you.
For the more scientifically minded, having other people affirm that your emotions are valid, that your life choices are valid, and that your beliefs is valid, is statistically really good for your mental health. When people don’t offer those validations, or specifically invalidate you, you’re way more likely to develop mental illnesses and other problems. So just from a straight out efficacy and health standpoint, asking other people for validation is a great preventative measure against sucky and costly problems down the road.
So please, for your sake the sake of your relationships, ask someone to compliment you today. Accept that you deserve love and kindness, and that you get to talk about that with people you love. And offer a few compliments to someone else, because they really are just great things. It can take some practice, and it can be terrifying to ask, but more often than not the people who love you will come through with some amazing things you didn’t even know you brought to the table. And you’ll both feel way better.