Compliments and Me

Why is it so hard to accept, really accept a compliment?

You would think that accepting a compliment from someone would be easy, something nice said to you or about you, but do we really stop to allow ourselves to feel what is being shared with us about ourselves?

This is something I have been recently observing in myself. Someone offers me a compliment, and I quickly say thank you, brushing it off like it was said in jest, a fleeting moment, or simply to be polite, or better (worse!) yet I go into an explanation of why I may look good, or why my hair is incredibly amazing on that day.

Recently I have brought more attention to how I respond when someone pays me a compliment, why I am so quick to discard it and how it makes me feel. At times it makes me feel a little awkward, uncomfortable, almost as if I am not deserving of that level of attention from another.

What I am beginning to realise though is, it is not the compliments I am resisting but the fact that I do not actually stop to allow myself to feel that I am all that which another sees in me and more.

I do not appreciate or acknowledge myself, who I am and the way I am, and when a compliment is said I feel uncomfortable because it is something that I myself have not actually yet recognised within myself and accepted as a quality or a strength.

So I have been playing a little ‘game’ with myself. When someone offers me a compliment I stop, don’t speak, I just let myself feel what is being shared and appreciate the quality that another has seen, that I may not have allowed myself to see. I say, ‘Thank you’, allowing my body to feel what has been said.

Yes, there are times when I have recognised that I am feeling amazing and when another comments on that, it is felt and appreciated by me, – but if it is something that I have not yet allowed myself to feel I go into a mini story, brushing it off, going into a detailed scenario, a justification of why I deserve the compliment rather than simply accepting it and so on… in fact, the ‘mini story’ is anything really to prevent me from feeling that someone else noticed something ‘I’ chose to ignore.

So compliments have now become my friend, a way for me to stop and recognise when I have or have not taken stock of the amazingness for myself, and that it is not only great to have another see me for who I am, but also for me to truly see and accept myself for who I am, which is the ultimate compliment of all!

By Nicole Serafin, age 43, Tintenbar, Australia

Related Reading:
~ True Appreciation… From Abuse to my Amazing Life
~ Self-Acceptance and Appreciation Bring True Presence
~ The Truth of Simple Acceptance of Self

1,774 thoughts on “Compliments and Me

  1. Self-appreciation prevents us from being needy towards others which in turn prevents a whole host of potential issues in our relationships.

  2. The appreciation of yourself and your day is extremely important, it’s how my day ends everyday, no exceptions. Doing this sets up the space for when someone else appreciates you or thanks you. It’s like because you have done it yourself you then allow it from another. It’s great to listen to the feedback of other people or the reflections of what they see and also be on the front foot and not waiting for it. The active, daily activity of appreciating some part or all of your day no matter how small it may seem is well worth the effort.

    1. Wise advice, Ray. It is a beautifully confirming and building to appreciate oneself at the end of the day. I have not yet built it to a consistency so that it is ‘everyday, no exceptions’ though it is building. The more I have been developing this, so the more my appreciation and love of myself deepens.

      1. Imagine if appreciation of self was encouraged and supported in our families, schools, workplaces and universities? I would say there would not be the push, drive and pressure that we see now for people to succeed and to get recognition for what they do.

      2. This is all a choice, at the point enough is enough you called in the choice to either not go there again or to commit to something fully. The will to bring something into your everyday comes from truly feeling how things have been. If you haven’t felt all the way then this gap or hold out allows you to waver or allows the inconsistency of something you have felt supports or is true. We can trick ourselves to think we are going somewhere or getting to something when in fact everything is already here, we have it all. It is merely from our choices and how we move that then allows everything or just something. Live in parts and you will see only parts, live as full as you can and this too becomes your world.

      3. Accepting that everything is already there not just intellectually but embodying it in everyday living is to surrender to oneself, which is an ever deepening process.

  3. “for me to truly see and accept myself for who I am, … is the ultimate compliment of all!” So true, Nicole, as this resolves the emptiness that we can spend our lives endeavouring to fill.

  4. Reading this I got to feel how I still easily brush off a compliment someone gives me and not allow myself to completely feel, embody and appreciate what someone has said and how little I compliment or appreciate myself.

  5. True appreciation for ourselves allows us to take in the appreciation of others, which makes it a very enriching experience for all.

  6. This has been great to read as it really explains a lot of how we see yourselves. I shared some photos of myself as a teenager on the weekend with many friends on Facebook. Now, as an adult, my perception of myself back then was that I was a mess, constantly anxious, emotional etc but that is not what anyone else saw and I got many compliments. This bamboozled me for a bit and I didn’t except or appreciate the compliments much. However, when I looked at them again I could see that my essence was there and has been there my whole life, unaltered in any way regardless of what I chose. And that is something very beautiful to appreciate.

    1. What a great experience – so often, we walk away from ourselves for a bit during adolescence. It took me a long time to re-find that spark in myself and I see this in others now. I am starting to wonder if the important part is to first not wander off! but secondly, to find our way back before too many coping behaviours have become embedded and hidden who we are in all our deliciousness from the world and ourselves.

  7. It’s hard to accept what another has seen if we have not felt it for ourselves. Nicole your game is a beautiful way to offer ourselves space to feel if there is truth in what another has shared, and if so stop and appreciated it ourselves.

  8. Often it seems that when people give us compliments it’s our own pictures that we hold of ourselves that get in the way, and within an instant we reject what is being offered. This shows us that we are not in appreciation for ourselves enough, and expect others to feel the same about us – great reflection.

  9. The more you appreciate yourself, and build up the love and care, the more compliments can be a confirmation of what you know and how gorgeous is it when you say to someone, you look great in that outifit, and they go, yes, thank you I do! It is rare and we need more of it….and as you say Nicole, when you dont agree, it is an opportunity to reflect on what is being presented to you and to build that appreciation more for yourself in that area.

  10. Appreciating ourselves is not something most of us do, we often see appreciating of others. But like you say it starts with self when we stop to appreciate ourselves we can then appreciate others in full. Accepting compliments is something I have been working on too for awhile and it really as supported me as I have allowed to appreciate myself more.

  11. So true Nicole, really accepting compliments is not something I find easy all the time. l’ve noticed a tendency still to water them down or deflect slightly. Symptomatic of holding myself to a higher ideal that I haven’t lived up to, and hence am not worthy of letting in the appreciation that’s been offered in that moment.

  12. To see, accept and appreciate ourselves for who we truly are is the ultimate compliment. This also includes a compliment to God and the universal wisdom, as we are part of this entire whole. Just imagine appreciating graciously our next compliment of behalf of God.

  13. Once we accept that we are a Son of God we naturally accept a compliment as we would a posy of flowers from a lover.

  14. Yes indeed, accepting yourself is the ultimate compliment of all! Crazy we have got into a situation that accepting ourselves is not the norm, but the truth is justification is much more the norm, so your blog is a gift and a call!

  15. You raise something I don’t always consider that in my ‘sometimes’ awkwardness around compliments I have not fully clocked that quality in me, and the only sneaky thing that comes in is that I now have to keep that quality up (ow), rather than just seeing it and acknowledging that I have chosen to live in a way that allows that, and that I am reflecting that quality because of this. There is something equally important here to consider we don’t own our qualities, not in the way we think. We choose to align and live in a way that allows those qualities to be expressed and we each bring a flavour to them, and every one of us then shows another and reminds another that they too have their own flavour too.

  16. True acceptance and appreciation of ourselves is the key to deeply connecting with another. A beautiful reminder Nicole to, with commitment and consistency, truly appreciate oneself.

  17. We have reduced our compliments and appreciation of each other as a society. If we did this more the world would be a totally different place. Makes me wonder why such simple ways of living have not been taught from young as just as important as learning your please and thank you’s.

  18. “Why is it so hard to accept, really accept a compliment?” i accept a compliment but have always added a disclaimer – which not only dis-serves the one complimenting me, but detracts from accepting a compliment in full. We are not taught to accept this from young – certainly not in the UK – in case we get ‘too big for our boots’. Time to change this.

  19. What I am learning to do is to compliment myself as well as to accept compliments from others. This makes receiving a compliment much more natural and normal for me.

  20. Could it be that when we have accountability we have a humble appreciation so that when we get a compliment it is normal because we are in the true humbleness of who we are in essence?

  21. I was reading your blog the other time and still work in progress is there. I have to totally re-imprint this strong pattern in having directly something to say when someone give me a compliment. I avoid intimacy with it as that is what it is to really let in the compliment.

  22. What I have been really enjoying and committing to everyday is to write in a journal one thing I appreciate about myself even just something as simple as the way I speak or gave a customer their change at work. These little moments then start a chain reaction of movements that not only confirm who we are but we then begin to truly feel the appreciation from others as a confirmation too, which only builds a much stronger foundation that we had already started sowing. Appreciation is a beautiful movement for all.

  23. I think there can be a belief that to accept a compliment means you are somehow big-headed or arrogant, that it’s the polite thing to be self-depreciating but how silly is this – that we might think we need to express ourselves as lesser or undermine who we are in order to be ‘polite’.

  24. I recently was complimented by someone I did not know that particularly well. I felt what she had said. There was no jealousy, no imposing but an open and honest compliment and although I allowed myself to feel where it was coming from I could feel that I didn’t want to let it in and numbed myself reflecting to me that I do not accept in my body what the woman sees in me.

  25. When we receive a compliment, which is an appreciation from another, it is interesting how often we do not stop to appreciate ourselves in that moment.

  26. The quality in which the compliment is delivered can make a huge difference in how it is received. Sometimes a compliment is given with an underlying tone of jealousy or comparison, and this we do feel even if we don’t actually clock it. When a compliment is truly given in celebration of you, it feels incredible, because you are truly seen for the beauty you are that emanates from within.

  27. I used to feel very uncomfortable when someone gave me a compliment because I was taught from a young age to dismiss them and to put the compliment down as a way of being polite and not to be too full of myself. Now I realise it was a strange way to receive a compliment by fighting and dismissing it. It has taken me years to undo what I have learnt and I have now re-learnt how to appreciate them and accept compliments with grace.

  28. I have found lately that with some compliments, the compliment giver is waiting for something in return. It’s as though they want some sort of recognition for having given the compliment. There can be much more going on with compliments than an exchange of words and energetic discernment goes a long way. They are not always as nice as what the words may trick you into thinking.

  29. If we don’t establish a relationship with appreciation within ourselves, we will not accept it from anyone else no matter how genuinely it is expressed.

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