Friend: “I love your hair!”
Other friend: “Ugh really? I hate it…”
How many times have you heard this or a similar exchange?
Up until just a couple years ago, it was pretty much impossible for me to accept a compliment. I felt if someone told me that I looked pretty one day and I answered with a mere “Thank you!” it would seem as though I was agreeing with the statement, and therefore I feared I would appear conceited.
It wasn’t until recently that I realized being outwardly confident about one’s accomplishments and attributes is not a sin. I also came to terms with the fact that rejecting compliments does not benefit me in any way. It actually makes me feel more insecure. Since I’ve started making an effort to accept compliments, I’ve noticed that it has had an enormous positive impact on my self-esteem.
In our society, self-criticism is accepted as the norm, so much so that when we hear someone talk about themselves or their accomplishments with even a remote hint of confidence, we sometimes write that person off as arrogant or self-centered.
Confidence, especially in women, can be easily misinterpreted as narcissism. It’s time for us to change this misconception. Here are 5 reasons why it’s crucial that we learn how to accept a compliment:
1. Saying negative things about yourself won’t make anything better.
We are so accustomed to complaining about ourselves, whether it be about our physical appearances (i.e. “I’m fat”) or about our capabilities (i.e. “I’m not good enough”). But does any of this complaining ever help us accomplish anything? Calling ourselves fat will not magically allow us to shed 20 pounds. It’s not productive, constructive or useful. And chances are that actively drawing attention to our negative thoughts will only make us feel worse about ourselves.
Next time you have the urge to criticize yourself, take a deep breath and (as hard as it may sound) try to add a positive spin to your negative thoughts. When you hear your inner critic insult your physical appearance, remember the great qualities that you possess that are way more important than how you look on the outside.
2. The more you learn to acknowledge your accomplishments/positive attributes the more you’ll start to actually believe in them.
This is not to say that you should go around constantly voicing how great you are to anyone who will listen. What I’m suggesting is that you learn to accept a compliment with a simple “thanks!” rather than with a rebuttal. By learning to do this, you’ll avoid putting yourself down unnecessarily, and start to realize that the great things people are saying about you are actually true. Why waste your breath on listing all of the things that are wrong with you in response to a compliment, something good?! That exercise accomplishes nothing but strengthening your inner critic and reinforcing your insecurities.
3. Accepting compliments projects confidence.
How many times have we been told that it’s crucial to appear confident in order to be taken seriously? Whether it be at a new job, during an interview, or in a new relationship, this seems to always be true. If you make a habit out of rejecting compliments, chances are that when you’re given a compliment during one of the aforementioned scenarios, you will not be able to accept it either. At a new job or during an interview, this might come across as lack of confidence or self-assurance. Say the interviewer praises you on your polished resume, how would it look if you weren’t able to clearly respond with a simple “thank you” because you are so used to discarding compliments? Even if it feels uncomfortable and insincere at first, practicing it enough will allow the practice to become a natural habit, and one that positively impacts many aspects of your life.
4. Self-deprecation is NOT attractive.
Let me preface this by saying that we should never base our decisions upon what is considered attractive to other people; for why would we want to attract someone who can’t handle our real selves? However, a bonus reason to avoid rejecting compliments is that constantly voicing all of the things that we think are wrong with us doesn’t make us appear very appealing to others. No one wants to be with someone who constantly complains about all of their flaws. We all have flaws, but it’s a lot more powerful to own them as things that make us unique. We can all agree that confidence is attractive. I for one find myself a lot more attracted to confidence than to perfection. There is something very appealing about those who feel comfortable in their own skin (flaws and all) and it’s always so important that we learn to love ourselves before seeking love from others.
5. You can and should avoid making the compliment-giver feel awkward. If someone is saying something kind about you, it’s because they WANT to.
Next time you’re about to tear apart a compliment from someone by listing all of the reasons why you think it isn’t true, put yourself in the compliment-giver’s shoes for a moment. Most likely, the people complimenting you are attempting to make you feel good by voicing a quality of yours they admire. Refusing to acknowledge a compliment that someone just gave you might feel to the person like you’re rejecting his/her attempts at being kind and flattering.
There is no reason that we should feel ashamed to accept a compliment, nor is there any reason we should feel the need to apologize for loving ourselves! Demi Lovato was on to something when she asked: “What’s wrong with being confident?”
Because the answer should always be: “Absolutely nothing.”
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