Warning: Some strong language below!
I pride myself on being a strong woman.
I take control of my life and for the most part don’t take shit from anyone. I pay my own bills; I put myself through college, opened businesses and survived tragic events at a young age, all while traveling the world.
So you can understand that when a friend brought to my attention that I always dismiss his compliments, I was completely taken back.
I was grateful that I had a friend honest and brave enough to call me out, but I became extremely curious as to why this was happening.
So I began an experiment.
I started complimenting all of my friends, randomly. A few would accept my compliment, but a majority either deflected it back to me, gave me an excuse as to why it wasn’t true, or completely shot me down.
Being the overachiever that I am, I went knee deep into understanding why this phenomenon happens. Why are strong, beautiful women (who seem to have their shit together) not able to accept a few words of praise?
Have you ever received a compliment and immediately reflected it with a negative remark? Maybe you returned the complement and disregarded the one handed to you altogether.
Perhaps a friend compliments us on our outfit. We immediately say that we bought it on sale last summer.
Our significant other tells us we look beautiful. We snap back that we hate what we are wearing.
We are out with friends who are complimenting us on our new job. We respond with how we have no idea how we landed it and will probably be fired in six months.
Have you ever received a compliment and then felt worse about yourself?
If you have, don’t worry. You are not alone. Forty percent of compliments from men to women are accepted with a thank you, while an astounding 22 percent of compliments from women to women are accepted. This means that less than half of us beautiful, strong women are allowing ourselves to receive praise.
Psychology Today says that not being able to receive a compliment can be a direct reflection of our self-esteem and perceived self-worth.
For many, this is a hard pill to swallow. It was for me.
Not being able to accept a few words of praise could actually be deeply rooted in our belief that we are not good enough. This information is not matching up with what we actually believe, so we can’t accept it. There is a mental disconnect, and we reject these words subconsciously before we even have a chance to think about what happened.
This feeling may be magnified when someone we love is giving the compliment. Receiving a compliment from someone we love can increase our personal insecurity, because now we feel like we have to live up to their perception.
When someone tells us we are awesome, we now worry if they will still love us when we are not being so awesome.
This can trigger us to believe that love is conditional, in turn strengthening our belief that we do not deserve those words of affirmation.
The good news is that not all of us are deflecting these words of awesomeness because our self-esteem is in the dumps. We could be dodging because we view compliments as coddling instead of praising. We could be rejecting because we grew up in a different culture, where compliments were not part of the social structure. Whatever the reason we can’t soak in the words of happiness, learning to receive them can be a real game changer.
Here are three ways being able to receive compliments can enhance our lives:
1. Increased Feeling of Self-Worth.
When we are living in a space of confidence within ourselves, our whole world is different. When we can continually receive compliments whole-heartedly, we continually increase our feeling of self-worth, therefore increasing the quality of our lives.
This may sound like a crazy benefit, but studies showed that when we are able to receive a compliment it lights up the same areas in the brain as when we receive money. When we light this area of the brain up on a continual basis, we may just increase our income. Can’t hurt to try. Anytime someone pays you a compliment, just imagine someone handing you a $100 bill!
3. We feel good. They feel good.
When we can accept verbal love from another, we feel good—and so does the other person. When we cut off the love flow from others, we are also cutting ourselves off from other magical things. When we allow the love to flow we can in turn draw more of that toward us.
We attract what we feel so we might as well feel fucking awesome and accept that compliment with a smile.
Author: Jennifer Sinclair
Image: Flickr/Tove Paqualin
Editor: Toby Israel