I was reflecting today upon how difficult it seems for many of us to accept compliments. I certainly have been guilty of passing off, for example, a compliment about a dress that I'm wearing by saying something such as: "thanks, it has pockets!" Now, I do love a dress with pockets (who doesn't?) but the point is that it seems that hearing and truly accepting a compliment is something that many of us seem to find difficult to do. For many of us this seems to be out of fear of being seen as big-headed; egotistical or narcissistic. These doubts seem as though they're not just in our heads either but actually based on our experiences and expectations.BuzzFeed writer Rossalyn Warren reports on a social experiment on Tumblr where it was suggested that women accept the compliments that they received from men online, rather than dismiss them (see link below). When women seemed to be comfortable with their qualities and accepted the compliments, the responses from the men were overwhelmingly negative. This suggests that women being assertive and confident can cause discomfort and ultimately aggression in return from others. The cultural expectations seem to be that if women receive a compliment and doubt it then that is far more acceptable than if they agree with it and are subsequently shamed as being conceited or arrogant.
In my work with clients (both male and female) the issues of self-worth; self-esteem and the ability to self-validate come up time and time again. Much of the work done includes getting clients in touch with their values about themselves; engaging in activities that create a sense of achievement or pride; practicing a non-judgemental attitude towards themselves and others; and ultimately, building their self-esteem and self-worth. One way to do this is to be more conscious of our responses to others giving us positive feedback and compliments and to try to truly accept what others are complimenting us on.
Try practicing this for a month and see what changes you notice, we would love to hear about your experiences.