Tiny Wisdom: Why We Sometimes Don’t Accept Praise

“Praise is like sunlight to the human spirit: we cannot flower and grow without it.” ~Jess Lair

There was a time when I could turn almost any positive feedback into something negative.

I don’t know if this was my attempt to confirm my unworthiness or my belief that people were usually hurtful, but I had a knack for distorting people’s words to avoid accepting praise.

If someone found me after a play and said I was a talented singer, I wondered if she was really thinking about my subpar dancing.

If a teacher told me that I showed promise and reminded him of my sister, I assumed he meant that I was a second-rate version of the student he met first.

In short, I thought very little of myself, and constantly looked for proof that everyone else did, too.

You might not be able to relate to the low self-esteem that I once had, but maybe you’ve also negated praise before. I hear people do it all the time—and sometimes I find myself doing it, too—with phrases like, “It was nothing,” and “I just got lucky,” and “He was just being nice.”

We all like and need to feel valued and appreciated, so why is it sometimes so hard to simply smile and say “Thank you”?

I suspect there are times when we disbelieve what others say; after all, people occasionally say flattering things just to be kind. Other times we may question their motives or downplay our achievements because we’re fishing for more confirmation—or attempting to appear humble.

But it might also have to do with vulnerability. Accepting a compliment is akin to receiving validation, and no one wants to reveal that validation is something they want or need.

Whatever the case may be, when we reject positive feedback, we rob ourselves the opportunity to feel valued and appreciated, and deny the other person the joy of honoring us.

We all need to be on both sides of that coin. We need to see and be seen for the light we have to offer the world—so why not give that gift to ourselves and other people?

So today I propose a challenge for you and for me: receive all compliments without questioning them, analyzing them, or negating them. Simply accept it, and know that you deserve it.

Photo by ingridtaylar

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha. She started the site after struggling with depression, bulimia, c-PTSD, and toxic shame so she could recycle her former pain into something useful and inspire others do the same. She recently created the Breaking Barriers to Self-Care eCourse to help people overcome internal blocks to meeting their needs—so they can feel their best, be their best, and live their best possible life. If you’re ready to start thriving instead of merely surviving, you can learn more and get instant access here.

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