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Why is it so hard to accept compliments?

My first reaction to someone saying these words to me, would be “What?! Who? Me?!”. I don’t know why but I am always surprised when someone compliments me. And more often than not, I feel ill-at-ease and self-concious.




When I receive a compliment with a “thank you”, I never let it sink in. I shrug and go on with wathever was happening at the moment.

This can seem quite strange that so many of us crave compliments as validation but we never fully accept them.

I can’t help but wonder why we can be so quick to believe negative things and have a hard time accepting compliments.

We are bombarded with incentives to be better, but compliments tell us we are enough just as we are. And for a lot of us, this is not easy to believe. Why?

Several things make it hard for me to believe and fully accept compliments.


As most of us, I believe I know myself pretty well.

Even if it is not true (we don’t know ourselves that well, and others know us better than we think!), I still believe that they wouldn’t say these nice things if they knew me as well as I do.

I know I am not “insert whatever compliments you hear”, so poeple who say this, are most probably wrong.


That is a shame, but we tend to dismiss things that are not in line with how we see ourselves.


In the same line of thought, I can find it difficult to love myself as I am, and it feels a bit strange that others do and say so.

For people with low self-esteem, compliments can be a source of discomfort. And sometimes, it is for me.


I don’t know about you, but I do value other people’s opinion and I take criticism as a valuable piece of information on my way to being a better person.

When it comes to compliments on the other hand… Well, I don’t really consider it a valuable piece of information because, you know, it means, I am fine, something is good in me.

If there is no work to do about this thing, why talk about it, right?


Curtesy of leftphalange.tumblr.com


If I accept a compliment, I may be afraid people will think I am arrogant, so it is better to just discard it.

I don’t want to act like I know how beautiful a human I am, right? It would be presomptous, and maybe make other people uncomfortable.

Better be (or look) humble…

Well, I  have learned that letting yourself shine allows other to shine too (there is a beautiful quote from Marianne Williamson about it!).


Lastly, I try to aknowledge the beautiful human I am. In that process (it is a long and difficult work), I can recognise I am smart, and funny, and pretty and a lot of other great things.

I mean, my head kind of knows it. But it never goes deeper than me trying to convince myself.

It is difficult to know in your heart that these things are true.

A lot of other things can make it difficult to fully accept a compliment.

Maybe you think people are just flattering you, maybe you don’t feel you are worthy of it (even if YOU ARE!), or maybe you are convinced you are never good enough (even if YOU ARE!)…. So what can we do?

Spend the rest of our lives wriggling on our chairs everytime we hear what remotely sounds like a compliment? Hopefully, not.


Sometimes, a compliment touches you more than usual. Because it comes from someone new, or you are in a different mood, or maybe because you really needed to hear this, even if you didn’t know it. The fact is, it resonates in you.

I had one of these moments a few month ago, and it really changed something in me. Hence, this article.

I felt seen in an unusual way, the words seemed to make sense in a way they didn’t before, and I made them mine for a while. Then, I went back to my old habits. But I tried to have another perspective.

I started paying more attention to compliments.

When someone compliments me, my head is there, telling me it’s not true.


I want to be able to believe compliments, to make them mine. So I pause for a moment. I listen to what has been told. I take a breath. And I do the only thing I can do, I say yes to what is. I say yes to the compliment. I say thank you for it.


And even if my heart doesn’t always believe it, I know my head isn’t the only one in control of what is right and what is not.

It is hard to make a compliment mine, but it is worth working on accepting them.

In the end, I think we can only start to accept compliments from others when we start believing for ourselves we are worthy of them.

Compliments are just a nice reminder of who we are.

A reminder we are enough and we are good enough.

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