How To Accept Compliments Without Feeling Guilty

Culture & Society, Learning To Love Yourself, Re-framing Your Thinking



(Originally published on Hello Perfect)

I’ve always had trouble accepting compliments. Growing up, I learned that in order to be a “good” girl, you had to turn down compliments. So I did – but that only served to grind my self-esteem in the dirt.


Sure, it took me more than a decade, but I think I’ve finally figured out how to take a compliment without feeling crummy afterwards.


Say Thank You


In a recent New York Times article about dealing with digital cruelty, author Stephanie Rosenbloom ended the article with a quote from James O. Pawelski, who acknowledged that we are  “really bad, typically, as a culture about accepting compliments;” Professor Pawelski went on to point out that compliments are “meant to be taken in and really appreciated. They’re meant to be gifts.”



People don’t have to waste their breath paying you a compliment, but they do. They believe you’re worth it, and that’s worth acknowledging, even with a simple “thank you. “ Don’t you think?


Look For Things You Like in Others


I know, I know. Easier said than done. Sometimes people are mean. Many of us move through life reacting to what we’re told. But if you look for things that you like in other people, it’s easier to find things that you like about yourself. Sometimes the things people compliment you on are admirable traits that you can learn to like in yourself too.


Change Your Inner Dialogue


I’ll be frank here: I’m still working on this. It’s not like you can snap your fingers and your negative thoughts will dissolve. However, if you take a minute to say to yourself, “Wow, he/she thought I was [insert compliment here]. That’s awfully nice of them,“ instead of, “OK. Why did they say that? They don’t know what I’m dealing with,” you’ll feel a lot better about yourself.



Do you have any other good tips for accepting a compliment without damaging your self-esteem?



6 thoughts on “How To Accept Compliments Without Feeling Guilty

  1. I learned a long time ago (it seems) to accept compliments with a simple “thank you”. That being said, occasionally I feel a compliment is undeserved and try to shrug it off. I guess that makes me normal 😛


  2. It’s funny because for the past few years I’ve been very good at accepting compliments, etc. except that when I think badly of myself, like I don’t think I’m very good at making comments in class, and when people tell me the opposite, I don’t know how to react!


    1. I can so relate to this, Camila! It’s hard when you get compliments like that. On one end, they’re flattering, but when you genuinely don’t believe you’re as good as people say you are, it’s hard to be very flattered. When people would say things like that to me, I would say something like, “Thanks, but I think I still have a lot to learn.” That way you’re accepting the compliment, acknowledging them for it, but still allowing yourself to accommodate for the fact that you don’t think you’re the cat’s meow. Just my two cents. Thanks for commenting!


  3. I have a hard time taking compliments as well, it almost makes me feel embarrassed sometimes. I don’t know why. I think it might be tied to the “impostor syndrome,” that feeling like you are pretending like you know what you are doing and someone is going to catch on to you one day. I think, though, it is important for us to learn to say thank you when people do and not brush it aside. I like, as you mentioned, changing our inner dialogue. Negative self-talk can be so destructive. Great post, stopping by from SITS Sharefest!


    1. Hi Bev,
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I can definitely relate to the whole “imposter syndrome” thing. But yes, I think it’s definitely important to say thank you. Thanks so much for your kind words!


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