Why We Struggle To Accept Compliments. My first reaction to someone saying these words to me, would be “What?! Who? Me?!”. I’m not sure why, but I often find it surprising when someone compliments me. And more often than not, I feel ill-at-ease and self-conscious.
When I receive a compliment with a “thank you”, I never let it sink in. I shrug and go on with whatever was happening at the moment. This can seem quite strange that so many of us crave compliments as validation but we never fully accept them.
I can’t help but wonder why we can be so quick to believe negative things and have a hard time accepting compliments.
We are bombarded with incentives to be better, but compliments tell us we are enough just as we are. And for a lot of us, this is not easy to believe. Why?
Why is it hard to receive compliments
People have a hard time accepting compliments, partly because it can be hard to quantify or contextualize the good feeling.
Several things make it hard for me to believe and fully accept compliments.
You don’t know me
Like most of us, I believe I know myself pretty well.
Even if it is not true (we don’t know ourselves that well, and others know us better than we think!), I still believe that they wouldn’t say these nice things If they only knew how well I know myself.
I know I am not “insert whatever compliments you hear”, so people who say this, are most probably wrong.
That is a shame, but we tend to dismiss things that are not in line with how we see ourselves.
In the same line of thought, I can find it difficult to love myself as I am, and it feels a bit strange that others do and say so.
For people with low self-esteem, compliments can be a source of discomfort. And sometimes, it is for me.
This is not a valuable piece of Information
I don’t know about you, but I do value other people’s opinions and I take criticism as a valuable piece of information on my way to being a better person.
When it comes to compliments on the other hand… Well, I don’t really consider it a valuable piece of information because, you know, it means, I am fine, something is good in me.
If there is no work to do about this thing, why talk about it, right?
I don’t want to be presumptuous
If I accept a compliment, I may be afraid people will think I am arrogant, so it is better to just discard it.
I don’t want to act like I know how beautiful a human I am, right? It would be presumptuous, and maybe make other people uncomfortable.
How to accept compliments humbly?
When someone compliments you, it’s important to be humble. Most people are just trying to help and are not looking to judge you. It’s important to show that you appreciate the compliment and take it in stride.
Better be (or look) humble…
Well, I have learned that letting yourself shine allows others to shine too (there is a beautiful quote from Marianne Williamson about it!).
My head knows but not my heart
Lastly, I try to acknowledge the beautiful human I am. In that process (it is long and difficult work), I can recognize I am smart and funny, pretty, and a lot of other great things.
I mean, my head kind of knows it. But it never goes deeper than me trying to convince me.
It is difficult to know in your heart that these things are true. A lot of other things can make it difficult to fully accept a compliment.
Maybe you think people are just flattering you, maybe you don’t feel you are worthy of it (even if YOU ARE!), or maybe you are convinced you are never good enough (even if YOU ARE!)…. So what can we do?
Spend the rest of our lives wriggling on our chairs every time we hear what remotely sounds like a compliment? Hopefully, not.
What can we do? pay attention!
Sometimes, a compliment touches you more than usual. Because it comes from someone new, or you are in a different mood, or maybe because you really needed to hear this, even if you didn’t know it. The fact is, it resonates in you.
I had one of these moments a few months ago, and it really changed something in me. Hence, this article.
I felt seen in an unusual way, the words seemed to make sense in a way they didn’t before, and I made them mine for a while. Then I reverted to my old habits. But I tried to have another perspective.
I started paying more attention to compliments.
When someone compliments me, my head is there, telling me it’s not true.
I want to be able to believe compliments, to make them mine. So I pause for a moment. I listen to what has been told. I take a breath. And I do the only thing I can do, I say yes to what is. I say yes to the compliment. I say thank you for it.
And even if my heart doesn’t always believe it, I know my head isn’t the only one in control of what is right and what is not. It is hard to make a compliment mine, but it is worth working on accepting them.
In the end, I think we can only start to accept compliments from others when we start believing for ourselves we are worthy of them. Compliments are just a nice reminder of who we are. A reminder we are enough and we are good enough.