You are beautiful. You are smart. You are kind.
Anyone bristle at those words? Anyone's mind go right to, "No I'm not! How could you say that?" or "Ugh! I don't look beautiful these days; I've put on so much weight!" or "Smart? I sure feel stupid when it comes to finances!" or "With the way I yelled at my kids this morning, I'm sure they wouldn't call me kind!"
Yeah, you're not alone. Even in this world of selfies and self-promotion, there's an epidemic of compliment deflecting and rejecting.
I've offered a simple compliment to people saying, "You look great. That color is very becoming on you!" and the immediate reply is, "Oh, I've had this shirt forever. It's starting to fade." What if instead, you said, "Thanks!" Maybe you could add, "I like this color too" or "This shirt has been a favorite for a long time" or "I appreciate you saying that; I wasn't sure I was going to keep it." But really, a simple thank you will suffice.
Even if it's a compliment about your character you don't feel you deserve, the only two words that are required are "Thank you." Use the compliment - and your gut reaction to reject it - as a teaching tool. As you walk away from the conversation, think about why that person might have said that. Maybe you really are doing something better than you thought. Maybe you deserve that pat on the back! And if you start to tell yourself (and believe yourself) you are beautiful/smart/kind, etc. you will act in a way that proves those compliments are true.
Suggesting you accept the compliment is not just a recommendation to improve your own happiness. It's about the other person too. I came across this quote from The Art of Manliness: "When someone offers you a compliment, they’re saying that they’ve observed and assessed a praiseworthy quality in you. When you deflect or deny that praise, you’re basically contradicting them; you’re saying that they don’t have good judgment, discernment, or taste, or that they’re insincere – that they don’t know what they’re talking about. You’re returning their kind words with an insult."
Oh dear. I certainly don't want to return kind words with an insult. My guess is you don't want to either.
Accept the compliment.
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash