Can you take a compliment?

For example…

When you send a gift to a friend, just because, and they say you brightened their day.

When you hold a grieving loved one, and they tell you they’re so glad it’s your arms around them.

Confession: I am terrible about taking compliments. (I know, First World Problems, bear with me, though.) When my husband tells me I’m pretty, or my friend tells me they are thankful for me, my first instinct is to shake my head. Sure, I hear their words, but there is so often a voice, an urging inside, to not take them seriously. They’re only being kind. You know how you really are. Plus, isn’t it rude to agree that you’re pretty awesome? And so I shrug, look away, and do my best to not seem too pleased about their words. After all, that would be prideful. And isn’t pride the worst?

All through my life, I was urged to be modest. For some reason, that translated to, “Put yourself down, so people don’t think you’re full of yourself.” But as I raise my daughter, I find that’s not the picture of what I want for her. I want her to have a confidence that doesn’t depend on others’ opinons, but that still honors the kind things people do say.

We don’t want to say, “Yeah, I’m pretty much the best friend ever, and you should thank me for all that I do.” Because friends don’t say those things. And they don’t think those things, either. However, aren’t false modesty like that, and outright self-deprecation about on the same level?

Discounting others’ words in the name of modesty isn’t making us look more humble and more worthy. It’s really showing that we don’t trust our friends. It’s telling them we don’t appreciate their opinions, which is the opposite of what we’re trying to accomplish, isn’t it? So when someone gives us a true compliment, why do we so often shut them down?

I mentioned earlier, I have that inner voice that isn’t the nicest. Maybe you have that, too. The one that shouts over kind words, “No, you’re not really like that. Good thing they think you’re like that, though, because they definitely wouldn’t be your friend otherwise.” That voice… needs to go kick rocks.

It is not prideful to accept kind words. It’s the nourishment we need for our souls in this broken, unkind world. Those words allow us to keep kindness going. Then we can more easily see the value in others and remind of their worth, too.

This week, when a trusted friend tells you, “Thank you,” instead of waving it off and saying it was nothing, try to acknowledge their words. Give a sincere, “You’re welcome,” or if words aren’t your thing, a hug usually communicates more than we can utter. It might be just what they need.

7 thoughts on “Complimentation.

  1. That’s why I never had a birthday party when I was growing up. We each were allowed to have one party and I saved it, and saved it, and then felt like I could never use it because it’d just be asking for attention.


    1. I would feel much the same way! At this point, I would definitely be tempted to go buy some balloons, cupcakes, and candles, and go have a picnic with some friends anyway. 😉 You’d deserve it after hanging on to it for so long!


  2. This was very thoughtfully written. I have worked on this for years. Every time I hear my inner voice getting ready to deflect a compliment, I force myself to smile, and say, “Thank you so much.” It gets easier.


  3. This is a problem and I think you may have hit on the reason: humility or rather false humility. I was also raised with the “pride goeth before the fall” and I hate to fall, so tried not to show too much pride. I also have that voice that says, ” They have to say that, they are my husband, family, friends,etc”. Doing my best to shut it up, however. NIcely done.


    1. The reason kind of hit me as I was free-writing about it, and I’m glad it did. I so struggle with this, so I am pleased it helped someone else, too. Thank you for reading!


  4. I sometimes force myself to say a kind “thank you” even if inside I’m saying, “Oh, you really have NO idea!” I find it most difficult when people tell me I am inspirational. I know it is most often meant as a compliment,but I have such a difficult time hearing it as one. Thank you for the reminder to be gracious.


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