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Consciously cultivate self-love

Receiving Compliments

When someone gives you a compliment, do you gracefully and humbly accept it by simply saying “thank you”? Or do you deflect and diminish their appreciation by quickly boomeranging the compliment right back at them?

Most of us, at least some of the time, do the second. But when you rush to pay someone an equivalent compliment without accepting and acknowledging their appreciation first, you are rejecting the gift that person is trying to give you. You may also be giving them an insincere compliment born out of the necessity to have something similar to immediately say rather than taking the time to think about what you appreciate most about them and being moved to say it in the moment when the thought occurs to you.

Why do we do this?

Because saying “thank you” implies that you believe you deserve the compliment.

Many of us, especially women, have been taught from a young age to be uncomfortable with attention and praise. We are also taught to seek it, even crave it, yes, but at the same time feel deeply uncomfortable when we get it.

Maybe we were told that it is vain to accept compliments. And of course, we are taught that vanity is bad. But this way of thinking confuses self-love with selfishness. Recognizing that each of us has qualities that can and should be acknowledged and appreciated by others is important. Also, just as you get joy out of telling a friend how beautiful or smart or creative they are in a moment when they particularly exhibit those traits, when you don’t accept a compliment, you rob your friend of that same joy.

So, what do you do if receiving a compliment is a monumental challenge for you?

Practice. Next time someone gives you a compliment, pause for a moment and feel your own appreciation for this person who is trying to connect with you in a positive way. Let the compliment land. See how it feels to accept it and own it. Then, without deflecting or diminishing the gift this other person is trying to give you, thank them sincerely, from the heart. Thank them for seeing you and hearing you, one soul to another. Thank them without trying in any way to pay the compliment back. Then feel how receiving the other person’s positivity elates you both.

A Step Further

If you want to take this practice a step further, do the following exercise with a close friend:

Agree that each of you will identify three positive attributes in the other that you appreciate. I recommend sending these by text or email so you can take some time to be thoughtful about it rather than putting each other on the spot.

When you get your friend’s message, don’t reply immediately. Instead, take a few minutes or even a few hours to soak up your friend’s appreciation. Really stop to recognize and think about the positive things your friend loves about you. Then, say “thank you.” Not “thank you but…” or even “thank you and…” Just “thank you.”

This simple exercise can have an amazingly uplifting effect on your life. Regularly accepting compliments in a gracious manner is an acknowledgment on a deep level that you know that you deserve to be loved and appreciated. It is a way of loving and appreciating yourself.