Fishing for compliments means trying to get people to give you compliments. Barbara loved fishing for compliments. She usually says something bad about herself so that people will feel bad about her and give her compliments. She would say something like "I look so bad in this dress." Her friends would say, "No, you don't! You look great!" Barbara has done this so much. One day, one of her friends said, "Barbara, you always say bad things about yourself and we keep telling you the opposite." After that, Barbara tried to stop fishing for compliments.
It was hard to stop though. She felt like the compliments boosted her low self-esteem. Her therapist suggested that she write down a list of things she liked about herself. It was hard. She would write one thing and then cross it out. Her therapist then asked her to write down a list of compliments she received from other people, which was easier. She wrote things like "smart," and "kind." "Do you think these compliments are true?" she asked. "Some of them," Barbara said. "Now, I want you to write down why people would say you're smart or kind," the therapist said.
For "smart," Barbara wrote that she has straight As, reads a lot of books for fun, and watches the news. For "kind," Barbara wrote that she helps elderly people cross the street, opens the door for people, and volunteers at the homeless shelter. "Good job! Now you can see why you are smart and kind, and start to believe it," she said. Barbara agreed. Writing down the reasons helped her.