Why You Hate Compliments and How to Feel Good About Them
Learn to Accept A Compliment With Grace
The #1 Reason You Don't Like Compliments
You certainly weren't born to not like compliments. In early child development, praise and compliments go hand-in-hand with progression and building self-confidence.
Then why do some people like being complimented and others hate it? Let me ask you another question. How's your self-esteem? According to Guy Winch, Ph. D., low self-esteem is the #1 reason we are so quick to reject a compliment.
For example: If you believe that you're a boring person and someone tells you how interesting you are, you're going to feel totally uncomfortable with hearing this. It just doesn't ring true with your belief system. So you think you're being lied to or that the person is just trying to make you feel better. Deep down inside you think that others are sharing the same low opinion about you that you carry around about yourself. Think about this for a minute.
But isn't it possible that someone else just may find you interesting and comfortable to be around? Maybe they grew up with parents that yelled a lot, so upon hearing your softer spoken words comes a welcome relief. They want to be around you. They are attracted to you. It's really very simple when you stop to think about it.
The bottom line is, how receptive we are to compliments is a reflection of our feelings of self-worth. Now, I'm not saying that everyone on the planet rejects compliments because they have low self-esteem. Many people with a healthy dose of self-worth don't like compliments for other reasons. However, as I said at the beginning of this article, low self-esteem is the #1 reason.
Always Avoid Harsh Criticism When Speaking to Others
Three Reasons we Dismiss Compliments
If you feel that anyone who gives you a compliment must have a dark, ulterior motive for doing so, or you have a general distrust of people, you may find yourself grouped into one of these three environments:
- Growing up in an over-critical family, causes you to most likely suffer from low self-esteem. You received little praise, therefore, compliments were not handed out and you aren't used to getting them. You feel uncomfortable with any type of praise or compliment. You don't trust either the person or the compliment.
- Being a perfectionist is another reason for not liking compliments. Your expectations are high and a bit unrealistic. You feel that you don't deserve the praise that is directed to you.
- Social Anxiety Disorder is a mental disorder that affects your behavior and your emotions. This social phobia is another cause for hating compliments. You fear to be in a situation where you may be judged. You avoid situations which might cause you to be the center of attention.
Social phobia affects about 15 million American adults, men and women equally.
How Do You Feel About Being Complimented?
Which Choice Applies To You?
It's Not Always All About You
The way a person perceives you isn't always just about you. If I'm happy with myself I'm going to be happy with you. Even if you happen to be mediocre in some way. You don't have to be a celebrity chef in order for me to enjoy and praise your lasagna. You may feel that you could have done better and that your lasagna needs more spices. At the very moment, you are being critical with yourself, I shout out, "Love your lasagna." But because you're feeling insecure about yourself, you have a hard time believing me.
Well, I've got news for you - it's not about you. I love the taste of your delicious lasagna. As far as I'm concerned it was the best I've ever had. I have a right to share this with you. Get over yourself, accept my compliment and simply thank me. I've spoken my truth. If you can't believe me, that's because your own insecurities are chatting away inside your head. " I've made this lasagna so much better before."
Can We Be Too Sensitive?
Mariam-Webster defines sensitivity as follows:
- "The tendency to become upset about things that are done to you, are said about you, or relate to you".
- "The capacity of being easily hurt".
- "The quality or state of being hypersensitive".
All three of these definitions applied to me until I learned to stop making assumptions. I lived in a state of being hypersensitive. Depression raised its ugly head in uncontrollable spurts. I even managed to convince myself I knew what other people were thinking about me. (Enter, the ego).
Then one day the dark clouds parted and a light came shining through. This light I speak of came to me in the form of a book entitled, "The Four Agreements", by Don Miguel Ruiz. He speaks about making assumptions about what other people are doing or thinking and how we take it personally. We end up creating a whole big drama.
As I read and studied "The Four Agreements" I soon learned how to stop taking anything personally. Oh, I slipped a few times but I kept trying. This takes practice, but let me tell you, it works Whatever happens around you, don't take it personally. This is an important key to mastering hypersensitivity.
Chapter Four in Ruiz's book begins with "Don't Make Assumptions." He begins: "We have the tendency to make assumptions about everything. The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth. We swear they are real. We make assumptions about other people, about what they are doing an thinking We take it personally. Ruiz explains so clearly that nothing other people do is about you. "The Four Agreements" taught me more about personal freedom, transforming my life, than any other single book. Author, Deepak Chopra, said, "Don Miguel Ruiz's book is a roadmap to enlightenment and freedom.
Wisdom from the Four Agreements (Mini Book)
A Summary of Tips and Facts
- The number 1 reason for hating compliments is due to low self-esteem.
- Growing up in an over-critical environment you receive little praise which makes you feel uncomfortable with compliments as you grow older.
- Being a perfectionist place you in a position where you never are 'good enough' to deserve a compliment.
- Social Anxiety Disorder affects your behavior and attitudes about receiving compliments. You live in a fear-based situation.
- A given compliment is not always about you. This is especially true when the compliment comes from truth and light. It's about the person giving the compliment.
- Learn how to stop 'dismissing' and rejecting compliments.
- Practice accepting compliments and praise in a kind and gentle manner. Just two words are needed, "Thank You."
Making Eye Contact
Ways We 'Dismiss' Compliments
You would think that receiving a compliment is an area where people certainly do not need help. But think about how many times you've heard someone (not you of course) respond to a compliment this way:
- Complimenter: You really gave a great talk yesterday.
- Complimentee: It was no big deal...it was real ordinary.
Instead of graciously receiving the compliment, it was denied and the complimenter's judgement was discounted.
- Complimenter: That's a great looking shirt.
- Complimentee: So's yours!
Here, the attention is being diverted away from the compliment, and an obligatory compliment given in return. Do you see what's wrong here? The return compliment feels very stiff and formal. It makes the other person feel uncomfortable for having made the original compliment.
It isn't right or proper to look for ways to reject or downgrade a compliment. When we do this, we actually 'dismiss' the compliment which deflects it's very significance and value.
- You play like a pro.
- Yeah, well I need to go now.
This time the compliment is entirely ignored and you come off sounding rude.
- You all sounded very good tonight.
- Yeah, right. We were one big mess.
This is called 'going into denial.' A bad idea.
How To Accept a Compliment
Learn how to receive kind words. Practice this skill until you get it right.
- The right way to accept a compliment is with pleasure and gratitude. Many people show disrespect to themselves when fumbling for the right words to say. You don't have to do this. Just smile and say " Thank you. I appreciate that."
- I'll bet you don't realize that it's actually rude when you don't accept a compliment. It comes close to calling the other person a liar. When someone is complimenting you, try not to mentally find fault with yourself. Concentrate on what they are saying.
- A compliment is like a gift. You wouldn't turn down a gift from someone. That would insult them. All you have to do to accept a compliment is to say "Thank you." Practice doing this.
Don't trash a compliment - bask in it. Absorb the loveliness of the moment.
Tips To Boost Self-Esteem
You measure your level of self-worth through your self-esteem. Self-esteem can apply directly to a certain dimension, (I believe I'm a good writer) or (I believe I'm a bad person.)
Wikipedia.org quotes Erik Erikson in speaking of the value of loving oneself, "A person with a healthy self-esteem accepts and loves himself/herself unconditionally, acknowledging both virtues and faults in the self, and yet, in spite of everything, is able to continue to love her/himself.
Do not confuse this love of self with the common Narcissistic love of the ego which is actually a symptom of low self-esteem.
Wear your self-esteem like armor against the challenges you face each day.
- Stop referring to yourself as "stupid", "ugly" or any other negative reference.
- Choose friends that build you up, not ones that tear you down. A friend will bring out the best in you.
- Learn to forgive yourself. Do not dwell on the negative.
- See situations in an objective way. "I did the best I could and I'm proud of myself."
- Volunteer often and contribute to your community which will have a positive effect on your self-esteem.
- Take responsibility and pride in who you are.
- Practice resiliency, assertiveness, and well-being.
- Choose your thoughts carefully as well as your perceptions. Focus on your positive qualities.
Strive for a healthy balance of self-esteem. Avoid a feeling of superiority and arrogance. At the same time, avoid negative, low self-esteem. Isn't it time to like and respect yourself? You deserve happiness and success. You are a unique diamond. Rinse off all negativity and sparkle and shine.
Final Thoughts About Compliments
Compliments and praise are a natural part of living. Positive feedback is essential for validation of self-image. I strongly believe this. Have you really thought about what compliments are? A compliment is an outward expression of the acceptance and admiration of others. Compliments are positive recognition of things we possess.
These things can be as simple as a piece of clothing or a vehicle; or they may be more complex issues such as appearance, friendliness or trustworthiness. Most people don't just give you a compliment for the sake of it. They mean what they say.
If someone cares enough to tell you "great job." Take the compliment with grace and dignity.
I love the following quotes and hope you will too:
“As long as you look for someone else to validate who you are by seeking their approval, you are setting yourself up for disaster. You have to be whole and complete in yourself. No one can give you that. You have to know who you are - what others say is irrelevant.”― Nic Sheff
“The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone.”― Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness
“How would your life be different if…You stopped allowing other people to dilute or poison your day with their words or opinions? Let today be the day…You stand strong in the truth of your beauty and journey through your day without attachment to the validation of others”― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
- An interesting study on the benefit of compliments in the workplace.
- LIEBOWITZ SOCIAL ANXIETY SCALE (LSAS-SR)* This measure assesses the way that social phobia plays a role in your life across a variety of situations. Read each situation carefully and answer two questions about that situation. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/social-anxiety-disorder/DS00595/DSECTION=tests-and-diagnosis
© 2014 Audrey Hunt