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How to Take a Compliment

How to Take a Compliment

Do you ever get uncomfortable with compliments? I used to not be able to take a compliment because I didn’t believe it. I felt so awkward and I would bumble around, looking for something to say in return that was just as kind or I would quickly change the subject. The compliment didn’t stick with me because I figured the person was just being nice.

Isn’t it funny how even when someone said a compliment about me, I thought it was about them — about how they were being a kind and friendly person. I figured that they must have seen just how pathetic I was and wanted to cheer me up. I appreciated the effort, but to me, there was no way that they actually believed what they were saying.

As I grow in my sense of self-worth by doing things like being my own best friend, accepting criticism, and redefining the meaning of happiness, I start to believe in the kind things that people say to me. And I’m starting to see myself differently.

Because, you see, I used to think that these “nice people” had it all wrong. They just didn’t understand how worthless I was. “Luckily,” I had an accurate image of myself — or so I thought. I focused on all of the negative aspects of my personality and felt that I knew every single one of my flaws. My days were all about counting all the things that I did that were “wrong” or how I did not measure up to my outrageously high standards. For example, I would eat an extra cookie and think that meant that I was a horrible person. Or I would arrive late somewhere and think that meant that I was a sorry excuse for a human being. Compliments? Ha, I didn’t deserve those. But I definitely deserved the criticism I gave myself — or even worse.

But something to understand — especially if you have low self-esteem — is that every person has weaknesses and strengths. When you are so down on yourself, you lose focus on the things that make you great. Maybe you aren’t the most organized person in the world, but you can make people laugh and forget their problems. Maybe you sometimes speak before thinking, but you also are always there for someone when they need you. You aren’t perfect — and knowing that you can never be may sting for a while. But that’s just the truth.

But you know what else is true? The fact that you are great. And even if you feel you aren’t, you have it inside of you to be great. And that’s not just me being nice — it’s the truth.  So, start thinking about the compliments people have given you — and accept them. When someone says something kind, say thank you and believe it. Start believing that you are a kind, good, healthy, and friendly person… and eventually, you won’t have to convince yourself because it will be stunningly evident.

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Image Credit: Andreyah Portilla / Flickr

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Erika Oglesby

Erika Oglesby is a freelance writer and wandering nomad currently located in Grand Rapids, MI. She is dedicated to helping people better their lives through self-knowledge and alternative therapies -- especially women of color and women diagnosed with autoimmune diseases. Visit her website at http://www.erikaoglesby.com.

42 comments

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5:55PM PST on Feb 21, 2013

good to remember

11:01AM PDT on Jul 20, 2012

ty

1:06PM PDT on May 17, 2012

thanks for sharing

11:58AM PDT on Apr 28, 2012

some people don;t mean it...
just like asking, "how are you?"
but better to just respond with a "thank you" regardless

4:03PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

As a musician, I have the opportunity to tread a line that many don't. Much of the time, the art we are creating live for the audience is taken for granted, and we receive no thanks whatsoever....even if we played our heart out. Then, occasionally, we'll receive positive feedback. Sometimes, we're hardly even prepared for the positive stuff, since we get used to the first scenario I've described above. I've learned to simply say 'thank you' to these compliments. The compliment was probably meant quite sincerely, and is simply a gift another person is giving me...so, the appropriate response, as to any gift, is 'thank you'. I teach my students this same approach to compliments they will receive after a recital or other performance. Making art for others and for ourselves is hard enough without dealing with complicated internal issues whenever we receive a compliment.

So, next time you have a compliment on your job, your hair, your children....just say, 'thank you'! You'll find it surprisingly easy to do.

2:01PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

noted

11:42AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Thank you.

11:01AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

thanks

2:06AM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Thank you for the information.

9:00PM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

I can certainly relate to feeling awkward ,now I just think there is something wrong with them .

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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