How Do You Handle Receiving Compliments After Bariatric Surgery?September 15, 2017
After surgery, we're thrilled to have lost weight, improved our health, and have more self-esteem. With our success, we receive compliments after bariatric surgery
"Wow, you look fantastic!"
"Congrats on your weight loss!"
And then silence... or you say something like... "Oh, I have so much more to lose." or "Yeah, thanks, but I'm still not to my goal yet."
Then, it's a deflection of the compliment to the point of almost denying it.
Many people assign meaning to receive compliments or are uncomfortable receiving compliments especially if they're used to ridicule. I want to address that issue here, and also discuss opening up as to how you might still be self-conscious or worried about your body image, appearance, etc. Many bariatric patients say they feel like people view them differently.
You might think that many would light up as a result of the compliments, but not everyone. In fact, it can make many feel highly uncomfortable.
Common Compliments After Bariatric Surgery
"You look great!" or,
"What plan are you on?"
"You're getting so thin!" and many similar types of compliments.
Sometimes people don't say anything because they don't want you to be uncomfortable or to acknowledge that you were bigger at one point in time. When you receive compliments after bariatric surgery, you might wonder if others saw how big you were.
Those people that are close to you and even those who may not know that you had surgery will still notice the weight loss and give compliments. They are excited for you and your progress. They are on your side.
Compliments are good! They are meant to be kind words to show that people care. However, when there is a comeback that deflects or rejects the compliment altogether, it shows how little you think of yourself and that you have a poor body image.
Common Replies To Compliments After Bariatric Surgery
“Oh no, I have so much hanging skin.”
“This old thing, no I look awful!” (referring to clothes you're wearing)
“Thanks, but, I still have tons to lose.”
“Yeah, thanks, but I'm a mess today.”
You've worked hard and you're doing great, so why are you putting off compliments you're receiving and deserve? One of the biggest reasons many people put off compliments and feel the need to reject or deflect them is because they still feel unworthy and undeserving of compliments even after losing their weight.
It's because for so long, you may have been used to getting criticized, or critiqued. When someone says something authentically nice, you feel the need to downplay, reject, or completely disagree by bringing yourself down.
The truth is, you've worked hard to get where you are. You've taken the action steps and it's time to celebrate!
Practice Accepting Compliments
From a subconscious emotional perspective, some people put on weight because they don't want to be the center of attention, and now after losing weight, people notice them more. This can be extremely uncomfortable for some. However, it's important to note how you feel when you are noticed, and how you feel when no one notices.
Additionally, it may be good to see if you just don't know what to say, or if you sincerely disagree with the compliment. If it is just an uncomfortable moment, practice what you can say in reply and leave it at that. However, some of my clients have shared that once they lose weight, they become hypercritical of their appearance. It is essential to recognize if this is happening to you especially if you've lost such a large amount of weight.
Sometimes looking in the mirror and complimenting yourself is a good start to getting used to receiving compliments.
If you disagree with the compliment there may be some internal work to be done to overcome the feelings you have about yourself. Additionally, if you aren’t comfortable with compliments, there could be an underlying issue that you do not feel worthy or deserving, and understanding what that is about for you could help you heal some old wounds.
Saying a simple "thank you" is enough when receiving a compliment, yet it's important to note what feelings come up for you. This is to understand the internal processes that are coming up for you as you lose weight and as other people start to notice it. Therefore, reflecting on your thoughts and feelings are important so that you can begin to feel as good as you look.
Here are some journaling prompts you can use to dig deeper into your emotions and your thoughts.
How do I feel when someone compliments me?
Why do I feel uncomfortable when someone compliments me or how I look?
What emotions come up when someone compliments me?
Do I feel worthy or deserving of compliments? Why or why not?
What is my typical response when someone compliments me?
What is my *NEW* response when someone compliments me?
Use these journaling prompts to help you discover your feelings about compliments and to dig deeper on what may make you feel uncomfortable.
Additionally, if you love receiving compliments, please share in the comments what have been the best compliments you've received to date. We'd love to hear them!
You look great, and you are doing fantastic! Keep up the good work.
ABOUT THE AUTHORKristin Lloyd, PhD is a licensed psychotherapist, mindset mentor, certified clinical hypnotherapist, and energy psychology practitioner guiding individuals to embrace healthy habits and fuller lives after WLS. A WLS patient herself, Kristin understands the challenges of WLS patients. She is the founder of Bariatric Mindset and author of the two bestselling books: Bariatric Mindset Success and Release Your Regain; both available on Amazon.
Read more articles from Dr. Kristin!