Tricia was sick of the online greetings, the phone calls offering good wishes, and friends wanting to throw Tony a surprise 35th birthday party. “ Why does Tony get everyone fussing over him. When it was my 30th birthday no one did anything special. It sucks,” Tricia puked out at she stepped on ...
Tricia was sick of the online greetings, the phone calls offering good wishes, and friends wanting to throw Tony a surprise 35th birthday party. “ Why does Tony get everyone fussing over him. When it was my 30th birthday no one did anything special. It sucks,” Tricia puked out at she stepped on the dozing cat, wanting to trash the latest pile of birthday cards that arrived in the mail.

“They want a party, they’ll get one that will make their jaws drop!” Tricia resolved. The house was transformed into an Eden of tropically scented flowers, mouth watering delicacies, flowing champagne and seductive music. Tricia glowed with pride. She played the mental audio tape of profuse admiration, and screened the images of awe struck faces, in her minds eye. Energy flowed and excitement bubbled in her stomach.

“Wow Tricia, what an awesome spread you prepared, thanks so much” Tony said as he absorbed the ambiance. “ No big deal, but I didn‘t get the orchids I was hoping for, and I left it too late to get that gelato you love” Tricia boomeranged the compliment back.

Tricia’s mental movie had an unsatisfying ending. A compliment that started life full of promise and pleasure morphed into overwhelming pressure. Tricia’s receiver converted genuine praise into a demand that she had to do at least as well if not surpass herself next time. A nurturing statement became a poisonous threat, and she responded to the judgment she perceived rather than the acknowledgement she was given.

Tricia got the food she longed to feast on- acknowledgment and validation for her efforts. Yet compliments stuck in her throat and she spat them out. Why would she not let herself have her heart’s desire? What’s in it for her to freeze frame the picture of herself as Cinderella destined to work her fingers to the bone with no chance of redemption?

1. She would have to live up to the expectations she set up for herself. That feels like hard work, with no guarantee of praise.
2. Tricia would have to be willing to accept that hitting the perfect note every time was neither possible, nor expected by Tony. That would mean giving up the image of Tony as a heartless monster.
3. Allowing the nutrients in the validations to strengthen her emotional muscles would mean that she wasn’t the helpless victim in the relationship. Tricia would have to exercise and flex those muscles to empower herself.
4. The artificial division of all the badness being in Tony and all the goodness being in Tricia would blur. She would have to own up to having some bad characteristics.


Each time Tricia spurned Tony’s compliments, he felt slapped down and dismissed. He resolved not to be so free with his praise in the future. Tony protected himself from further rejection by becoming indifferent. As he offered fewer genuine acknowledgements, Tricia’s accusation bore fruit. She set herself up for not being appreciated. Self-sabotage at its finest!


Tony needs to
1. Tell Tricia how it feels to be spurned and rejected.
2. Point out to her every time she destroys his praise as she alters his message.

Tricia needs to
1. Visualize acknowledgements and praise as comfort food rather than as demands for more work on an otherwise emotionally empty stomach.
2. Check in with herself and notice whether the compliment goes down as a nutrient or turns into a barbed ball of poison. Figure out why.


Tony can Alert Tricia before he praises her, so she can tune her receiver into the acceptance channel. He can feed her validations often, and a little bit at a time for thorough digestion. Later he can invite Tricia to talk about which compliments slipped down easily, and which stuck in her gullet.

Tricia will benefit from telling Tony her reactions to his acknowledgements. That will allow the experience to be regurgitated and broken down by the enzymes of clarification before trying to digest it. She should repeat the compliment back to Tony as soon as she receives it so as to check out if her receiver was accurately tuned in.

The connecting link between Tony and Tricia strengthens as she accurately reads his message of validation. Feeling “full” with acknowledgement and recognition, Tricia softens towards Tony. He is recognized for his authenticity in praising Tricia, and is eager to repeat the process. Win, win for both.

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Jeanette Raymond is a licensed psychologist and psychotherapist. She has a doctorate in clinical psychology and a masters degree in child, adolescent and educational psychology. She has 20 years experience working with adults, couples, adolescents, children and families. She is the author of 2 books for teachers in the UK.

Dr. Raymond believes that the most important relationship you have is with yourself. She sets the stage for you to begin taking care of your most precious gift and ally - yourself. When you can do that, all else falls into place.

Her specialties include distress that shows itself in the body, feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled, fear of intimacy and loss, anxiety, eating disorders, and self-sabotage. If you mask your unhappiness with food, alcohol, drugs, or sex you abandon yourself. If you try to control it by working all hours, with excessive exercise, being busy, cleaning, and over-achieving you are ignoring yourself. Dr. Raymond helps you speak the turmoil that makes you want to go numb, and helps you find the fertile soil to plant your true seeds and flourish.

Dr. Raymond helps parents and children understand one another, and provides adult couples with a platform for having their conversations out loud rather than silently in their individual heads.

Dr. Raymond runs groups and conducts workshops on dream interpretation. She enables individuals to find their voice so that their bodies don't have to speak with back pain, gastric complaints, hair loss, skin breakouts, panic attacks and sleep disturbances. While emotional wounds can debilitate and prevent you from living a full life, Dr. Raymond collaborates with couples, family members and individuals to gain strength from it. She offers the opportunity to rewrite the internal dialogue that may be self-sabotaging and putting obstacles in the way of having meaningful relationships. She honors you and teaches you to honor yourself in a non-threatening environment, allowing you to unfold.