I recently had a conversation with a vanilla friend and a topic came up that was interesting since we shared similar views and experiences on the subject.
His words were:
"I'm bad at taking compliments, but I enjoy being appreciated."
I knew exactly what he was talking about as I am wired in this way as well. We talked about it more and a lot of it stems from failing to feel pride over accomplishments that didn't require a significant amount of work or self-investment.
For him this mostly stemmed from things he felt were easy and obvious. He hated being complimented for something he felt should be "common sense" or easily obtainable.
For me, it was a mix between feeling no pride from most accomplishments (they don't really matter) or things that were acquired on natural ability or talent.
In either case, the majority of compliments usually made us feel uncomfortable and almost always wanting to retort with the opposite. "Oh, that can't be true," sort of a thing.
The bigger question is why is appreciation okay? We didn't really talk about this much, but I stated some cases where I did feel pride at being acknowledged and I was able to put it together through our conversation.
The cases where I do enjoy (and feel pride from) receiving appreciation is usually in reference to my "body of work" as a whole. A micro vs. macro type of thing.
It's easier to describe this with an example. An easy illustration that involves multiple levels of this would be pitching in baseball.
If someone says, "that was a great pitch." It may be true, but I'm likely to shrug it off, feel that it was luck, etc. It feels strange to receive that as a compliment.
If someone says, "you pitched a great inning." I may feel okay about it, but the feeling quickly fades. This also feels strange, I'm looking at the next inning.
If someone says, "you pitched a great game," there is some minor pride, but nothing lasting. If I was told this I would likely tell them thanks but that I'm already focused on the next game.
If someone says, "you are pitching great this season," that will warm me, but I'm still focused upon the part of the season that hasn't been played yet rather than feeling joy at the season that is now over.
If someone says, "you are a great pitcher," I feel happy, fulfilled, and gratified. I feel pride. I will thank them in return and feel humbled that someone noticed.
I don't know exactly why I feel this way about it. I've been told it is a form of narcissism I developed as a defense mechanism in order to cope with receiving very little praise or recognition growing up. I'm not really sure but that makes sense in a lot of ways.
This same thing bleeds over heavily into D/s. I crave very little micro appreciation. I absolutely need macro appreciation.
If I do the dishes, cook a good meal, or give a good foot rub, I feel weird getting any praise for it. It just feels like things that are part of my role as a sub. However, if she says, "I love that you do things for me," I feel warm and fuzzy inside. I feel like I am a good person and a good sub. It gives me confidence to press on.
I might just be broken, but the most fulfilling times in my life have been when she has said she "loves who I am." I feel like this is a compliment for my "body of work" as a whole and that makes me feel complete and very proud. I also know the times that have been rough have been when it didn't feel like this was true.
I hope this makes some sense. Does anyone else feel this way too?