Are you uncomfortable receiving praise? When someone compliments you, do you clam up, go blank, or assume the worst? Do you get completely lost in the compliment and become unable to control your physical and mental state?
Today’s episode is inspired by a viewer, name Emilia, who asked if we could record an episode concerning praise and how to accept and process it gracefully. So that’s what we’re going to do!
First of all, when working with clients, I rarely have all the answers or tools to help them right off the bat—I usually need to find out a little more about their situations and dig a little deeper to understand what’s really going on.
So let’s start by assessing where you are with praise: slow down and ask yourself-
What happens internally when you begin to receive praise:
- Do you tighten up and experience discomfort?
- Do you mentally reject what the person is offering?
- Do you find a way to turn the compliment into criticism?
For many of us, we can’t accept praise because we honestly believe we are undeserving of it. We use whatever means necessary to turn loving energy into self-hatred so that we don’t have to buy into positive affirmations that we might have to continue living up to.
In Emilia’s case, however, it sounds as though her reaction to the praise may go the other way: she describes herself as “getting too high” off of the praise that she receives.
While I haven’t experienced a situation in which a client reacts positively to praise to the point at which it becomes a problem, I can imagine a few scenarios where this would be the case. Perhaps she gets so worked up from that positive energy that she becomes immobilized by it and experiences uncomfortable physical responses (e.g.: accelerated heart rate, stuttering, sweating, etc.). Perhaps the praise feels so wonderful that she becomes aloof or dismissive of those around her.
Whatever the case you may be experiencing—and I’m sure I’ve listed at least one reaction to which each person can relate—we need to know how to deal with it and move forward.
So how do we do that?
Let’s break this down scientifically: imagine your mind is like a semi-permeable membrane that selects what it will or will not allow in.
Someone compliments you, and you can either:
- let it in
- block its entrance
Whether we block these statements out completely, allow them in and feel good or allow them in and feel badly, we have to acknowledge the main challenge we face when confronting issues with praise that:
Our reactions to it are based on validating our self-worth through the opinions of others.
That does nothing but invite the perception of constant threats to our self-confidence and, consequently, endless stress into our lives.
The truth is that there really is no threat.
Most of us walk through life worried that we have to make sure everyone likes us. We think that if we try hard enough, we can control how people perceive us and manage the opinions of others.
Newsflash: we can’t.
First of all, it is impossible to make everyone like you—that is just a fact.
Second of all, it is impossible to truly gain any validation of worth from an outside source if you don’t already intrinsically believe that you possess that worth on the inside.
Let me give you an example: I can’t play piano. I never took lessons, and I don’t know Chopin from “Chopsticks.” It doesn’t matter how many people tell me that I am an amazing piano player; I know it to be untrue. It is fact. Now, that is an extreme example that has nothing to do with self-confidence, but hopefully the concept is clear enough.
In order to truly gain a solid sense of self-worth, we need to develop it from the inside. Then—and only then—can we truly begin to react rationally and gracefully when faced with praise.
In order to mitigate the hyperbolic ups and downs that we might associate with praise, we need to develop a much stronger sense of what we truly appreciate about ourselves.
The more comfortable we can become with owning our strengths and accepting our weaknesses, the less outside encouragement or discouragement will matter.
We won’t get “high” on that praise because we will see it as a kind statement of fact rather than a much-needed confidence boost.
Here’s one trick for developing that self-awareness:
Write down ten things you appreciate about yourself at the end of the day.
They don’t have to be monumental—perhaps you set yourself up for success by eating a healthy breakfast. That’s one. Maybe you treated the dog to a walk instead of plopping in front of the TV. That’s two. Maybe you connected with a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time. That’s three.
If that seems like a hassle, just use a counter on your smart phone or a small notepad throughout the day. Stay aware of your actions, and every time you do something even remotely admirable, tally it up.
Make a point of noticing how many times you can praise or approve of yourself throughout the day. You might start with just a few per day, but after a week or two, you might get up to ten or more. This is a process—the mental change is not going to happen overnight.
Stay the course, and remain patient with yourself.
Over time, it will become more and more natural, and you’ll find that you’ve settled into a steadier and more stable state of mind.
I truly hope that this episode addressed this issue in a way that will help you work through your issues with receiving praise. If you have additional questions, please feel free to share them below so that I can address them in the comments or on a future episode! You can also subscribe to receive updates and check out my website, SocialConfidenceCenter.com to get my free eBook, “Five Steps to Unleash Your Inner Confidence.” You can also find information regarding upcoming events and other opportunities.
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. Talk to you soon.
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