Do you ever receive a compliment and instantly deflect the conversation away from yourself? I can relate. To give myself credit, this past year I have made a conscious effort to accept nice things said about me. However, I still catch myself feeling uncomfortable or deflecting from compliments especially when I receive them in real life.
Just a little background into why I am talking about this topic. I was out one night with a few friends and one of my friends complimented my hair. I began to downplay it and ended up rabbling on about how I purchased the hair. She replied back to me and said: “take the compliment and go”. I was shocked at her abrasiveness but I’m happy that she said it as her words led me to certain revelations that I had not yet realised.
The resistance I feel towards praise stems from many years of low self-esteem. The truth is for a long time I never felt like I was enough and would always find fault in my achievements. When I receive a compliment it’s unfamiliar language to me because I’ve become accustomed to believing my negative self-talk. When I get told nice things I automatically want to respond by saying “are you sure you’re talking about me”. I know that sounds negative but this was my thought process.
Another reason why I don’t respond to praise well is that I hardly celebrate myself. Rarely do I say ‘well done’ or reward me for my accomplishments. For example, I didn’t go to my graduation despite doing very well and being the first in my immediate family to go to university. I didn’t even acknowledge the fact that finally got a new job, one which brings me more joy. Not once did I organize a meal or self-care days to really celebrate my accomplishments.
Another revelation I had was that I’ve somehow conflated self-praise with bragging. I steered away from publicly sharing my accomplishments because I didn’t want to be perceived as showing off. There’s definitely merit in celebrating privately and knowing that we don’t need to be validated externally to feel proud of ourselves. But I think that I was being unnecessarily unkind to myself by downplaying and hiding my achievements from the world. I’m starting to realize that you can be a humble person whilst receiving praise and celebrating yourself openly.
I’m trying each day to tell myself I deserve happiness. I deserve to be complimented. I deserve to receive and believe nice things about me. Irrespective of what I’ve done in the past, right here and now I deserve to be celebrated. Breaking this learned behaviour which I’ve become accustomed to is proving to be harder than I anticipated. However each day I commit to being more aware of my response to compliments and to consciously celebrate my accomplishments, right down to the smallest things.
A Question for you:
How well do you take compliments?
If anyone can relate let me know your thoughts x