No More Selling Myself Short


I love this photo of Sergio and I. From our friend Trevor’s housewarming party last year. Theme: Tiki.

A few weeks ago, I was catching up with a dear friend who I hadn’t seen in awhile. A few months ago, I cooked a three-course vegan dinner for her, my boyfriend, and a few other people I really treasure having in my life.

My friend turned to her friend next to her and started gushing about how delicious the meal was: “Josh is such a fantastic vegan cook…I ate everything on my plate.”

You’d think I’d light up with a full-hearted, “Thank you!!”. Gushing back at the compliment. Instead, I found myself laughing uncomfortably, acknowledging her kind words with a half-hearted, “thank you”. Maybe I was more convincing on the outside. But my insides sure didn’t feel it.

This isn’t really anything new for me. How I respond to praise usually goes the same way: uncomfortable laughter, sometimes followed by a weak thank you. As if the compliment or praise isn’t needed or fully deserved.

The second time my friend complimented me about my cooking skills, I consciously quieted that critical voice in me and simply said, “Thank you.” And I think I meant it. I meant it as much as I could.

Yet, even with this awareness, another voice whispered, “Fraud”. This story that I’m not really a vegan cook. That I modified the recipes of others. This nasty accusation that I’m not really who I say I am or who people think I am. And this spill into all other areas of my life.

You think you’re knowledgable about wine? But what about this area. You’re not strong there. You think you can run a business? But what about that income you’re not bringing in? That’s the voice.

That’s the voice. Even as I’m writing these words, it’s becoming more obvious of its sinister nature. 

Do you ever hear such a voice in your own life? How do you respond to praise?

This is a large part of my own journey, for sure. Standing firm in the midst of praise and letting it fully soak into the depths of my being. To not only hear what the person is saying, but to allow every aspect of myself: heart, mind, and soul to embrace the compliment.

I’m so tired of laughing off compliments. It feels so low. Like I’m continuing to cheat myself, again and again, from an abundance of joy that is my birthright. Like I’m some knock-off or cheap portrait, unworthy of praise.

Oh, how I’m fed up. Perhaps you find yourself doing the same thing from time to time. How about we make a pact? From this day forward. Let’s make a commitment to yourself. Make a commitment to one another.

As we stand, fully in the present, from this day forward, we will say yes to the compliments and praise we receive. There won’t be any condescending, uncomfortable laughter or trying to deflect. Instead, we will look the person straight in the eye, with a smile, and say, “Thank you. That really means a lot.”

Our outside words will reverberate inside. Straight into our core. That is how I want to receive praise. To see what others see in me. To say to myself, “Well done, Josh. You’re doing great.”

Written by

Josh Hersh

Josh Hersh, life coach and entrepreneur, works alongside thoughtful gay men to help them craft a life bursting with joy, love, and purpose. He also works with time-starved freelancers and solopreneurs to boost productivity and grow their business. He founded The Thoughtful Gay Man, whose mission is to create a world where every gay man lives empowered and from the heart. He currently lives in Chicago with his boyfriend, Sergio.
  • David Martinez

    All cooks get their recipes from others and then they modify it. While others fail. It takes a good cook to make the dish well by following the recipe. That is why you are a good cook.

  • disqus_01irEuQEwB

    Wow this article spoke straight to me! 😮 Saying goodbye to the self-critical perfectionism & false humility once and for all… We were made to shine, gracious & loving but still bold & unashamed! Thank you for sharing Josh!

  • I teared up recalling moments of praise and how my inner voice was not so kind to me. #lettingitallinmovingforward