How comfortable are you with accepting compliments? If they land softly and sink in without an issue, then probably you can stop reading this post 🙂 But if you struggle every time, start justifying yourself, and soon enough can’t even remember what the compliment was, then let’s have a conversation.

I bet you have heard of confirmation bias. It’s a tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information that confirms or supports one’s prior personal beliefs. Here, our brains’ ability for selective attention plays a big role – you focus only on those things that fit in your existing world picture. If you are having difficulties with accepting compliments, my educated guess would be that it’s your low self-esteem and a tendency to confirmation bias having a nasty party in your head. Positive comments don’t stick – they just don’t fit into your picture of yourself.

So what can you do to get better at accepting and appreciating compliments? In general, work on strengthening your self-esteem. I know, I know — I keep buzzing about that in almost every post of mine. But that’s because so many issues are rooted here, and I am deeply committed to work on the root causes of your problems, not just treating their symptoms.

Here are several practices that can help you on the way:

1. Start giving compliments to yourself. Remember, our brains take in the information that fits in the already existing world of ours. So you need to add some reference anchors in the mind for the compliments to stick to. You can catch my tips for this practice in my last week’s post.

2. Whenever someone compliments you, say “Thank you” or “Oh, that makes me happy, thanks!” No justifications, downplaying or excuses — just thank the person. If it’s hard, close your mouth and count to 3 after your “thank you” response. This is how it should look like.

— Anna, this dress looks beautiful on you!
Oh, it’s like 20 years old, and I don’t even know why I still have it. Thank you, Olga!

— Did you get a haircut? Your hair looks lovely!
Are you kidding me? I feel like I’m having a straw nest on my head! Oh, I’m glad to hear that, thanks!

— Great job with the presentation Petra!
Nah, while presenting I found two typos. What a shame! Thank you, I worked hard on preparing it.

3. Practice, practice, practice. It can be hard it the beginning, so take a moment sometimes to just thank yourself in front of the mirror. And don’t beat yourself up if you catch an excuse jumping out of your mouth as a response to someone’s compliment. You at least are getting aware of this behaviour, and that’s the first step to success!

What is your relationship with compliments? Is it love or hate? Share with me, I’d love to know!

With all my love and care,

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