How To Use Compliments To Boost Your Self-Esteem
Are you bad at taking compliments? If someone praises you for something, do you block it out rather than allowing it to make you feel good? Do you freak out inside because you don’t know how to accept positive energy without seeming “conceited.”
Today we’re going to be looking at compliments and how to receive them graciously. This episode is actually inspired by a question from one of our viewers, Emilia (NLN), who has trouble receiving and processing flattery.
In Emilia’s case, compliments go to her head, and this high makes it difficult for her to respond. For other clients, I’ve also noticed a trend of blocking out positive vibes to the point at which they feel nothing (and, in some cases, even worse than they did before receiving it).
First of all, a compliment is nothing more than positive energy. It’s a little bundle of positive vibes packaged in kind words, and our only job when someone throws one our way is to catch it and take it in.
Unfortunately, this isn’t so simple for many of us.
If a compliment is nothing more than a gift of positive energy, why on earth would we not want to receive it?
We spend a ridiculous percentage of our days hoping to receive love in one way or another, so why is this form of it so difficult for some of us to accept?
The main reason that I’ve identified, especially with people who block compliments out completely, is that flattery does not align with their identities—it doesn’t compute with how they see themselves.
For some people, hearing someone tell them they’re beautiful is odd because they’ve always hated this or that about their face or body; some people can’t be told they’re funny because they never made their families laugh as kids; for others, being told they made a great speech is laughable because they get so nervous when it comes to public speaking.
These people (and perhaps you) have created very specific identities for themselves—I am ugly, I am unpopular, I am a nervous Nellie—and hearing anyone express anything to the contrary makes them believe that this person must be after something or somehow attempting to manipulate them.
Once this mindset has set in, we’re more comfortable sticking with our own negative self-associations than we are questioning whether someone else’s point of view might be legitimate. At that point, we have some work to do in changing our self-perceptions. If this is a major issue for you, consider checking out my program, Confidence Unleashed. This module is designed to help you transform that negative identity and view yourself in a new light of confidence, certainty, and self-acceptance so that you can attract a healthier work and social life.
In the meantime, now that we know why you’re blocking out compliments, we can see how easy it should be to let them in. It all starts with a decision you make to accept what the person is saying as a possibility—it is possible that you’re beautiful or funny or smart. Accept the compliment as legitimate and let it into your reality.
Even if you don’t really believe it internally at first, fake it ‘til you make it. Accept it externally by saying, “Thank you,” and eventually your psyche will begin to believe it.
“Hey, great presentation.”
“Wow, you’re really beautiful.”
“Man, you are so funny.”
Say thank you, breathe, and leave it at that.
Resist the urge to fall back into your old identity by adding a contradictory statement at the end, such as, “Thank you . . . but it really wasn’t that great.”
Just accept the compliment with grace and sit in the positivity of it.
If you stop rejecting the praise on the outside, you will eventually stop rejecting it on the inside as well.
Here’s the other thing to remember: a compliment is a two-way street. When someone offers well-received praise, they feel love and good energy. This is why we’re taught from an early age that when someone gives you a gift—even one you don’t love—you must say thank you.
When you knock down people’s accolades, they feel bad.
So keep it positive, and you’ll be inviting more and more compliments into your life because people will feel good about giving them to you.
At that point, you can start using the additional praise as positive feedback to encourage increased change in your self-perception.
Now, let’s look at the other side of things: the original issue Emilia brought up pertaining to allowing compliments to take us over. While I don’t know that I have enough information when it comes to addressing her specific problem, the only issue I can see coming of allowing compliments to give us a sort of “high” is the consequence of that high: the crash.
It’s possible that the high may be putting undue pressure on her—once she sobers from it, she thinks that there is a new standard to which she will always be held.
Firstly, this logic does not add up.
Just because you are fantastic at something once does not mean that you have to be fantastic every single time—it just means you were legitimately fantastic at least once. And why not celebrate that?
This brings us to the second point: there is nothing wrong with letting compliments go to your head a little bit. In fact, I have become so comfortable receiving compliments that sometimes I like to participate in the compliment myself. If my wife tells me I look handsome, for example, I might say “”I know” with a sort of wry smile so that we can enjoy her love together in a playful way.
Let this become a part of who you are. Accept praise to the point that you can enjoy yourself as much as other people enjoy you. You will not be disappointed.
As always, feel free to leave your comments below. What compliments do you have trouble accepting, and how have you taken steps to start getting more comfortable with them? What are your reasons for blocking out praise? Let’s learn from one another so we can help each other grow and develop extraordinary levels of confidence together.
Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome. I’ll talk to you soon.