Downplaying Compliments and Low Self-Esteem: A confessional

Copy of The ugly truth about self love (7)

Do you ever receive a compliment and instantly deflect the conversation away from yourself? I can relate. To give myself credit, this past year I have made a conscious effort to accept nice things said about me. However, I still catch myself feeling uncomfortable or deflecting from compliments especially when I receive them in real life.

Just a little background into why I am talking about this topic. I was out one night with a few friends and one of my friends complimented my hair. I began to downplay it and ended up rabbling on about how I purchased the hair. She replied back to me and said: “take the compliment and go”. I was shocked at her abrasiveness but I’m happy that she said it as her words led me to certain revelations that I had not yet realised.

The resistance I feel towards praise stems from many years of low self-esteem. The truth is for a long time I never felt like I was enough and would always find fault in my achievements. When I receive a compliment it’s unfamiliar language to me because I’ve become accustomed to believing my negative self-talk. When I get told nice things I automatically want to respond by saying “are you sure you’re talking about me”. I know that sounds negative but this was my thought process.

Another reason why I don’t respond to praise well is that I hardly celebrate myself. Rarely do I say ‘well done’ or reward me for my accomplishments. For example, I didn’t go to my graduation despite doing very well and being the first in my immediate family to go to university. I didn’t even acknowledge the fact that finally got a new job, one which brings me more joy. Not once did I organize a meal or self-care days to really celebrate my accomplishments.

Another revelation I had was that I’ve somehow conflated self-praise with bragging. I steered away from publicly sharing my accomplishments because I didn’t want to be perceived as showing off. There’s definitely merit in celebrating privately and knowing that we don’t need to be validated externally to feel proud of ourselves. But I think that I was being unnecessarily unkind to myself by downplaying and hiding my achievements from the world. I’m starting to realize that you can be a humble person whilst receiving praise and celebrating yourself openly.

I’m trying each day to tell myself I deserve happiness. I deserve to be complimented. I deserve to receive and believe nice things about me. Irrespective of what I’ve done in the past, right here and now I deserve to be celebrated. Breaking this learned behaviour which I’ve become accustomed to is proving to be harder than I anticipated. However each day I commit to being more aware of my response to compliments and to consciously celebrate my accomplishments, right down to the smallest things.

A Question for you:

How well do you take compliments?

If anyone can relate let me know your thoughts x

24 thoughts on “Downplaying Compliments and Low Self-Esteem: A confessional

    • Yeah same! Whenever it goes beyond thank you I end up undermining the compliment so I try to leave it as that lol. It’s so good you’ve actively worked on this. Thank you, I’m humbled 💜😊

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! That’s so true, when you don’t praise yourself you may end up internalizing negative things said about you too. I’ve experience that too that’s why I’m glad I’m at the point where I’m learning to praise & uplift myself. Thank you for your insights, they’re always helpful 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hey Ash! I can’t relate, actually; however, I do want to suggest that you begin small. Maybe you can look in the mirror each day and privately say something nice about yourself or congratulate yourself on your new hair, job, degree, whatever. Eventually, it’ll come naturally for you to just say, ‘thank you’ when others notice your fabulousness!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is so relatable to me! I’ve always struggled with my self-esteem, although I’m not sure why. I’ve learned to accept compliments with a thank you, but when someone compliments me, my brain goes “they’re just words,” and doesn’t internalize them. I’m trying to make myself take a few seconds and really savour what I’ve been told before I move on. Those kind of things give us something to draw on when we’re having a bad day.

    I remember I was so shocked the first time I saw someone graciously accept a compliment. I had told this guy that he had nice handwriting, and he said “thank you” like he was really taking that compliment and cashing it at the compliment bank. I was like, “we’re allowed to do that?” Since then, I try to say thank you like he did – it was just mind-blowing to someone who’s spent her whole life dodging kind words.

    Here’s one for you: you seem like you have a beautiful, introspective mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmm I love that! Taking a few seconds to savour the compliment sounds really effective. Even if I receive a compliment and say thank you, my mind automatically switches to something else. So I’m never really acknowledging the compliment. That’s interesting, compliments can be healing and can help us when we are experiencing low moods.

      Idk if you’ve experienced people sayingg this but if you tell someone they’re pretty and they say “I know” often they’d be perceived as being cocky. It’s so weird how we are programmed not to like ourselves.

      Thank you so much! I truly received that. I’m glad to have met someone who understands these things. At least I know I’m never alone. And btw you sound like such an amazing person 💜


      • I haven’t experienced that with someone being told they’re pretty, but I have experienced it with someone I complimented on a speech. He was extremely cocky though! But I get what you’re saying. We’re socialized to be modest but at what point does it turn into outright rejecting good things about ourselves?

        I’m glad I’m not alone either.

        Thank you – I’m saving that compliment for later 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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