How do you react to compliments? Can you graciously accept compliments or do you reject the good intentions by deflecting praise or react by criticizing yourself?
It is impossible to genuinely accept praise from others if you are in the habit of belittling yourself. A well-intentioned compliment meant to illicit good feelings instead triggers your inner critic. You conjure up a list of reasons why the compliment doesn’t apply to you or why you don’t deserve it. Or, you believe the person who gave you the compliment is lying or being sarcastic and you end up feeling perhaps more insignificant instead of complimented.
Feelings of unworthiness lie at the heart of not being able to freely accept compliments. When you feel less than or not good enough no matter how many compliments you receive you will not believe them to be true. You believe if the person who complimented you had all the facts and knew the truth about you they wouldn’t be complimenting you at all. You may even go so far as to blame yourself for deceiving them in some way which led to a bogus or unfounded compliment. Compliments, when graciously accepted, are gifts for both the giver and receiver. When you disparage the compliment out loud you reject the gift and invalidate the person who complimented you by making them feel awkward for praising you.
If you can honestly receive a compliment with ease, congratulations, you have a healthy level of self-value. Conversely, if you instinctively follow up a compliment with a self-deprecating, self-destroying remark, a reaction from your inner critic, then you are in what I call Killing Compliment Mode (KCM). This is when you battle against the compliment to obliterate it. When you battle and obliterate compliments you downplay or reject them. You have an internal battle with yourself to prove the compliment was a mistake. Therefore, you end up rejecting or downplaying the compliment. Why would you want to obliterate compliments? You do this because feeling insignificant is familiar and feels comfortable don’t you?
Ways in which you may downplay or reject compliments is by invalidating them or invalidating the person who gave you the compliment or simply ignoring them. We are naturally hard-wired to seek the praise of others. Praise fills the need we all have to feel significant. Compliments are meant to make you feel good. The problem is we don’t know how to accept compliments because we feel inferior and not worthy of the compliment. So, we dismiss the praise and any of the good feelings that would have come with it. Instead of feeling good we end up feeling insignificant.
You can inch your way out of KCM and build a healthy level of self-esteem by using the following Accepting Compliment Technique (ACT). This technique is designed to make accepting compliments familiar to you. The more frequently you do the ACT the easier it will become.
Every time you find yourself rejecting a compliment, take the compliment and make it bigger. Make the compliment as grand as you like; the bigger the better. Like blowing up a balloon a big balloon. Do this even if you don’t believe the words to be true. Your limitless mind will believe anything you tell it through repetition. When you magnify the compliment it makes the original praise seem more plausible and you will then be more likely to agree with it.
You must learn to recognize and appreciate your value. That’s when things will really shift for you. People can compliment you all day long but it is much better to recognize and appreciate your own worth. When you learn to genuinely accept compliments, ironically, you won’t need validation from others when you have an unshakeable belief in yourself.