As someone on a lifelong journey of self-acceptance, I’m no stranger to the compliment denial.
You know, when someone hits you with a compliment, and you just can’t seem to accept it. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why is it so darn hard to accept compliments?
And it could be any compliment too! About your work ethic, your performance on a new task, or a simple compliment about the shoes you happen to be wearing that day – they are all just so difficult to take in!
But WHY is it so hard to accept compliments??
Let’s explore some reasons why it may be so hard to accept compliments:
DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this blog is written from personal and lived experience. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace professional mental health services, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health or mental health, you should always consult with a health-care professional.
# 1 – We have low self-esteem and self-love
When we are unable to see any positive qualities in ourselves, it is difficult for us to understand how others may see these qualities in us. We can blame something external for the compliment like good luck, or the other person’s misjudgement. We are convinced that the praise couldn’t possibly be based on the reality that we have done something well.
# 2 – We have been taught that accepting a compliment makes us conceited
We may have, directly or indirectly, been taught that accepting compliments makes us less of a good person. Our focus becomes about pleasing others and putting their needs above our own. We value ourselves based on what we can do for others. This, of course, is tied to our lack of self-esteem and self-worth.
# 3 – We worry about the motive behind the compliment
When we cannot accept that a compliment is based on reality, we start to question the compliment giver’s motive. We struggle to trust the individual and worry about what they may be seeking from us in return. We fear that accepting the compliment gives the individual power to hurt us, and that scares us.
What happens when we avoid compliments?
# 1 – We insult the compliment-giver by denying their compliment
We’re basically saying the person offering the compliment has lousy judgement and couldn’t possibly know what they’re talking about.
# 2 – We feel pretty shitty
Avoiding compliments denies us of the very thing they’re intended to do, and that’s to make us feel good about ourselves. When we’re so caught up in the avoidance of the compliment, we’re stuck in a negative headspace. A space full of self-hate and self-doubt.
How should we accept a compliment?
The next time someone offers you a compliment, try letting it in and just saying thank you. I know, what a radical thought!!
Resist your urge to return a compliment immediately or to apologize for something. Just a simple thank you is all you need.
Some more examples of how to respond:
- “Thanks. I’m glad you liked it.”
- “Thanks. I worked really hard on it.”
- “Thanks. I appreciate you noticing the effort I put in.”
This can be challenging for us to do, especially if we’re serial compliment-deniers!
So, how do we get more comfortable with accepting compliments?
Practice, practice, practice!
I know this seems like a silly thing to do, but practicing your response can be really helpful!
Use the sample compliments below to practice responding and accepting compliments. If you are working alone, imagine someone is offering you the compliment and practice how you’ll respond. If working with a buddy, have your partner read the compliment aloud, and you can respond directly to them. These samples are only meant to get you started, feel free to add your own compliments, ones that apply best, as you continue practicing!
- “You did such a great job today!”
- “You are so talented!”
- “I really like your idea.”
- “I couldn’t have done this without your help.”
- “I really enjoyed that article you wrote. It was so inspiring!”
- “This meal you cooked is delicious!”
- “You are an incredible photographer!”
- “That colour looks amazing on you!”
Accepting compliments does not make you conceited or self-centred. Compliments should not be avoided or ignored. They are these awesome little confidence-boosting GIFTS that come at you throughout your days, often times when you least expect them. And when was the last time you returned a gift?! That’s hurtful to the gift giver!
Learning to take in compliments confidently, and have them help build your self-love is key.
Hey you! You are so worthy of each and every compliment that comes your way.
(And, yes, I’m also looking in the mirror as I say this.)
To all my buddies who struggle in the self-love department, remember that you are wonderfully you, and precisely what this world needs. Shine bright, my lovelies! (Pssst…I really hope you’ve accepted this heartfelt compliment <3)