A nudge, not a push
This morning, after posting what I did for Monday, I read an article entitled “For some people, optimistic thoughts can do more harm than good“. The bottom line is that a cleaver study showed that giving someone a positive message that was somewhat more positive than they saw themselves helped them feel better about themselves, but giving them a positive message that significantly differed from their self-image was actually harmful to how they felt about themselves.
So, telling her she is very friendly, when she is not very friendly, will very likely make her feel even less friendly than she already feels. Same with what you say about how she looks, her intelligence, her ability as a mother, and so on. What’s more, if she decides you are lying to her, then everything you say becomes suspect.
So it seems my comment that you can “nudge her in the right direction” was spot on – we need to nudge, not shove. Figure out how she wrongly sees herself, and gently nudge her from that towards the truth.