What is your reaction to a compliment?  Do you push it away by saying something negative?  Do you feel your body stiffen and find it hard to make eye contact?  Do you even hear it?

Often these responses are because we have a negative self-view. We say things like “Oh not really.”  “It was only ….”

Someone once said to me ‘I wouldn’t want to be too confident because I wouldn’t want to be arrogant.”

Some of us find it hard to see ourselves positively at the risk of being seen as big-headed and arrogant and so we find it hard to acknowledge our own strengths, abilities, looks or intelligence.  We deny ourselves the pleasure of feeling good.

We want to shrink and hide away instead of hearing the compliment and taking it in – and feeling good about ourselves.  I remember being like this through my teenage into my late twenties/early thirties.  I had to learn to first hear it, then accept it without pushing it away.

Pushing away a compliment is like refusing a gift. Imagine giving someone a gift in a beautiful box with a lovely ribbon and they say ‘Oh no, I don’t want it.”.  How would you feel?  Don’t you feel a similar feeling when you compliment someone you care about and they push it back?

My therapist once said to me ‘You know Elaine, there is giving in receiving.”

When you give another person a compliment and they smile and say “Thank you, that makes me feel really good”, it feels good to you too doesn’t it?  It’s a lovely exchange and you both feel a connection.

Over time, the more you practice just hearing a compliment and not rejecting it, the better at receiving you will become and the better you will feel about yourself.  It doesn’t make you arrogant – that’s a whole different way of being. It teaches you to appreciate yourself and if you can do that, others will appreciate you more and you will be able to appreciate others.

If you receive a compliment today or someone says they think you’ve done something really well – breathe, pause, hear it, let it in and say “Thank you”.  It may be difficult at first – you don’t have to believe it, you just have to hear it.


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