I Suck At Taking Compliments

There’s no point in trying to sugar coat it, I suck at taking a compliment. I’ve given a lot of thought as to why that is and I have a few ideas, but I’m not sure how I’ll be able to go about dealing with them. This isn’t a solicitation for accolades, but hopefully through writing this I’ll be able to work through my own shortcomings and by reading it, maybe you’ll be able to learn something about yourself.

I know that one reason I have an issue with people complimenting me is that in the past compliments have been used as a prelude to a request for me to do something for someone. Having been taken advantage of in the past I guess I still hold onto that resentment and I immediately wonder if someone has an ulterior motive to their kind words. I realize this is silly and most people aren’t trying to con me into things, but even though I’ve gotten better at recognizing users, the lessons I’ve learned are fresh in my mind and though my wounds have healed, they’ve left scars behind to remind me to be careful.

Even when it’s blatantly obvious that someone isn’t trying to get something out of me when they compliment me, most of the time I dismiss it. After quite a bit of consideration I’ve determined that it’s not that I don’t believe that their comments are genuine, but because I don’t feel that what they’re complimenting me on is worthy of recognition. I know that I’m a good person, but I guess I don’t think that anything I’m doing is that remarkable, and that’s a problem.

It’s a problem because in my own pursuit of improvement, and not “being where I want to be” I’m too critical. Instead of accepting the compliment and the modest ego boost that should come with it I use it as a jumping off point to start my own internal monologue about how whatever I was just praised for is something that I could be doing better and that I’m not up to a standard that I haven’t even defined. I’m constantly trying to be “enough” and I haven’t decided on what “enough” is.

I’m working on clarifying my own personal goals and trying to find a level of contentment. I’ll always try to be a better person, but learning to accept my imperfections will hopefully help me learn to not only accept compliments, but to stop unintentionally pushing people away with the awkwardness that I exhibit due to my persistent insecurity. “I’m just me” is a fallback phrase that I have used when someone said something kind about me and I felt that it was undeserved, but you know what? There’s a lot about me to be proud of, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

2 thoughts on “I Suck At Taking Compliments

  1. Interesting post, Todd.

    Ya know, a lot of people think exactly this way. It makes sense that you’d want to put shields up to ensure someone wasn’t about to try to pull a fast one on ya. People are amazing these days huh?

    As far as being too hard on yourself, and not being where you want to be, I’m right there with you but the one thing I’ve learned and used over the last couple of years of entrepreneurial ventures, of quitting bull**** jobs to pursue something that will actually make me thrilled and deciding to go the opposite direction from the rest of the herd, is that being happy along the way, toward achievement, really rocks.

    Cool post.

  2. Great post! I now realize that feeling of the uncertainty of what is “enough” ~ it makes me uneasy sometimes because compliments tend to come out of the blue.. I tend to get critical too..I thought nobody speaks about these things I feel so closed off sometimes..

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