Why Is It So Hard To Accept a Compliment?

Last night I logged in to Twitter and saw this message:

If you don’t “do” Twitter, what this means is someone who’s Twitter ID is @SoulfulHealing (her name is Krissy) wrote “Inspiring Blog” followed by a link to a web page and then a series of other people’s Twitter ID’s.

I don’t normally click links like this but yesterday I did and I ended up on a blog called My Soulful Healing. It turns out that Krissy was nominated by another blog for “The Very Inspiring Blogger Award” and as part of receiving this award, the recipient nominates other blogs they find inspiring.  At the bottom of her list of nominees was Authentic Gecko.

You’d think I’d be happy about this wouldn’t you? I mean, someone I didn’t know had read Authentic Gecko and liked what they saw.

Well I was  – for about 30 seconds – and then my ego kicked in.

My thoughts went from “Wow, how awesome,” to “Wait, this must be a mistake. Authentic Geko hasn’t been around long enough for anyone to notice. Maybe this is some kind of hoax. Maybe it isn’t real. There must be something in it for them that I’m missing,” and so on.

So I turned to my trusty friend Google and this award is exactly what it looks like. Bloggers sharing the love and paying it forward by acknowledging other bloggers they like.

But I was still uncomfortable with the idea and was planning to ignore the whole thing because surely participating and giving my own shout outs just so I could say “someone liked me” would be tooting my own horn too much.

In other words I was sucking the joy out of the moment for myself.

And then I remembered a conversation I had earlier this week with one of my kids. We were talking about what to do when someone gives you a compliment and you don’t know what to say.

My advice was. “Just say thank you.”

Last night I realized it was time to take my own advice, venture out on a limb a teeny-weenie bit, and pay it forward with my own post.

Not only that, it was time to turn my back on my ego and let myself enjoy a compliment from a fellow blogger.

What? This Old Thing?

As I worked my way through this latest ego-induced drama, I wondered why it’s so hard for some of us to accept a compliment.

When someone says, “I like your shirt,” why do we automatically say, “This old thing? I found it behind a dumpster . . .” even if we spent 45 minutes that morning deciding exactly what to wear.

Think about it. When we push back on a compliment, we’re effectively questioning the other person’s judgement.

We might as well say, “You’ve got to be crazy. How could you think this worthwhile? You should get your head checked.”

Pushing Back on a Compliment is Disrespectful to Yourself

Not only that, we’re being disrespectful to ourselves. When we push back on a compliment, what we’re saying is that:

  • We aren’t good enough to deserve the compliment


  • We think it’s egotistical or immodest to accept a compliment

Hmm, that’s all there in my first reaction to the Inspiring Blogger Award isn’t it? But let’s think this through.

  • We Don’t Deserve the Compliment:  Really? The other person thinks we do. Maybe we should work at believing the same thing.
  • It’s Egotistical to Accept a Compliment: Why? What’s wrong with being proud of our accomplishments or happy with our appearance?  Isn’t that called confidence? As Maya Angelou says, “Modesty is a learned affectation,” and some of us need to un-learn a little bit of it.

Learning to Accept a Compliment

Since accepting a compliment gracefully clearly isn’t something I’ve mastered, I think it’s a skill I’m going to consciously work on. If you struggle with this as well, maybe we can work on this together.  Are you in?

Here’s my plan. When someone gives me a compliment I’m going to try to:

  1. Take a second to mentally acknowledge their words and any uncomfortable feelings that arise in me
  2. Try to really accept and believe the compliment
  3. Say thank you (and not in a get-me-out-of-this-moment-without-being-rude way)

What do you think?

Is it easy for you to accept a compliment or do compliments make you squirm? How do you handle compliments? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Here’s what some other people have to say about learning to take a compliment:

Photo by: opencontent


2 comments on “Why Is It So Hard To Accept a Compliment?

  1. Great blog Heather! Another inspiring read! You hit the nail on the head with a problem many of us face in learning to accept a compliment but most important, believing it’s real! I’m so glad you decided to look past the discouragement of that old nasty ego that always rears it’s ugly head trying to keep us from the positive side of life! Thank you for the encouraging shout outs and wonderful compliments! :)) Smiles

    • Thanks Krissy. You’re right, it’s odd the way our minds work. We want the approval of others so much, but as soon as someone gives us a compliment our egos kick in and say, “Nah, that can’t be real. They don’t really mean it.”

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