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Uncomfortable with Compliments? Why Being Able to Take In Kind Words Is So Important


Many people struggle to take a compliment. It doesn’t matter if the compliment comes from a loved one, a stranger, or a trusted source, like a therapist. The struggle goes much deeper than manners, modesty, or cultural norms.

I’m talking about the inability to accept what therapists call positive affect. The issue for some is about feeling, deep down, that you don’t deserve it, that you can’t believe it, that as a person you are not worthy, and that you can’t allow or take in the experience of feeling good about yourself, or even believing someone else feels good about you either.

Why do some people find it so psychologically painful to take compliments? Why is the ability to accept compliments so important? What needs to happen to allow a person to truly take a compliment to heart and let it nourish them?

To be able to truly hear a compliment depends on being able to see good in one’s self. But unfortunately for some, deeply painful past relationships interfere with their ability to accept or see the good in themselves. Even so, with careful work, people can learn to understand their personal barriers, bring compassion to themselves, and learn to respond to compliments in more positive ways.

Why Value Our Ability to Accept Compliments?

Why is it important to be able to take compliments? When given without any ulterior motives, compliments feed the best parts of ourselves. Seeing and knowing the good in one’s self is essential to overcoming self-defeating activities, and to living a life more in sync with what is personally meaningful.

In a healthy relationship, compliments show that two people can recognize and enjoy the special unique individual that each person is. The ability to say thank you or smile when receiving a compliment shows that your heart is open to who you are – you are able to take in those moments when someone sees the best in you — and you see it too!

What Interferes With the Ability to Accept Compliments?

Deep down we all want love and recognition – to be understood, to be important, to matter to someone else, and to care about a loved one the same way.

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