July 8, 2013

Learning to Accept a Compliment

I don't want to write this blog post, because it means admitting something I don't like about myself.

I guess I'll start there.

Does this scenario seem familiar to anyone?

Man: Aw, honey, you look beautiful tonight.

Woman: (shrugs) I guess. Thanks.

I've been this woman far too many times (with my husband as the man -- not multiple men!). And it doesn't have to be about outer beauty either. Friends and family give us compliments: you're so smart, you're such a good writer, you've got such a sweet spirit, etc. etc.

The compliments are heart-felt -- so why do we have such a hard time accepting them?

For me, it's often because I don't believe what the person says is true.

It's not necessarily that we don't believe the person meant it -- just that the person is misguided.

Or, if we dig deeper, maybe we really think the person doesn't know what he/she is talking about. Or he/she has a flawed view.

The ironic thing here -- for me, anyway -- is that I often deflect compliments because of my low self-esteem, but the rejection often is guided by pride, at its core.

Because who am I to tell my husband I'm not beautiful? Is his view of beauty flawed because I see the flaws in myself?

And who am I to tell my friend that the thing she appreciates in me isn't really that great?

Isn't that prideful?

Furthermore, bottom line is that when we say we aren't this or that, we are rejecting not only the compliments someone else is giving us, but denying the gifts or beauty our Creator has bestowed upon us.

Ugh. Don't know about you, but that realization just came down and slapped me in the face.

I want to become someone who can accept compliments -- not because I want to hear accolades or because I need/want my ego stroked. Instead, I want to graciously thank people who see things in me that I can't see in myself.

Things the Creator put there. Because we are His creation, and we are fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together with loving hands.

And when people are complimenting us, they are really complimenting Him in us.

Your Turn: Ever had a hard time accepting compliments? I'd love to hear your thoughts on why it's so hard for people to accept the nice things said about them!

*On Wednesday, I've got a real treat! Debut author Karen Barnett will be here answering a few questions about her new historical novel, Mistaken!

**Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net


  1. Lindsay,
    I think everyone has to face this question at one time or another: What to do with compliments. I know I did. I've learned to say "Thank you" and be done with it.
    Yes, sometimes I want to argue with the compliment-giver ... but that's my insecurity talking back. That's me living in my Wound, rather in the Truth that God loves me -- and others do too.

    1. I just have to say...I love how MBT terminology applies to real life too, not just to character creation. :) My insecurities are caused by wounds of my past as well, and I'm so grateful I can be armed with the Truth that God loves me. It's such a powerful thing.

  2. Lindsay, I agree with Beth. After struggling for years with accepting compliments (and it still sneaks up on me), I've learned to simply thank the person without expounding or explaining away their words. My insecurity comes from the fact that I don't want to rob God of the glory He is due. Somehow, sometimes, I believe that by accepting a compliment about a devotion or Bible study that I write or teach, I'm taking credit for what God inspired. It's a fine line, but we all face it. Thanks for putting it so beautifully.

    1. Ooo, you brought up something I hadn't thought of, Donna. I like it when people say thank you, but also when they verbally recognize it's all Him. I think you're right...there's a fine line between insecurity and humility. I guess it all comes down to motivation and attitude, doesn't it?

  3. Thank you for this post. So many people need to read it and absorb the truth in your words.My husband humbled me with his response during a similar conversation. He told me I was beautiful, and I rolled my eyes or made some comment about his eyes needing to be checked. He said, "Why don't you accept the compliments I give you? By reacting the way you do, you make it sound like my opinion doesn't matter." I felt horrible. Of course his opinion matters...except my low self-esteem couldn't appreciate the compliment coming from him. Since that day, when he gives me a compliment, I say thank you and follow it up with a kiss or a hug. Since my love language is words of affirmation, I allow his words to feed my spirit instead of brushing them aside.

    1. I love this, Lisa. Love, love, love it! How much we likely have wounded our men in this way without ever meaning to. It's awesome your husband was honest enough to speak up!

  4. So...I actually had a boyfriend call me out on this once. He told me when he gave me a compliment and I brushed it off, it was like saying I didn't trust or put any stock in his opinion or words. That has stuck with me ever since. So, it's similar to what Lisa said above.

    Here's the really cool thing about the aftermath of that conversation, though. It didn't just help me accept compliments more easily...it actually made me want to give compliments more. I recognized how amazing this guy was at speaking affirmation and it made me want to do the same. So, hey, the relationship didn't work out but good things came from it. :)

    1. I think we can learn something from every relationship. :) It's so awesome you know this now, so you won't encounter it when you're married! One step ahead. ;)

  5. Lindsay, so beautifully, and truthfully written. I struggle to accept compliments too. Early in our marriage, my husband called me on it, when he said I looked beautiful and I made some comment back, refuting him. I had to learn to accept that his words were sincere (that is the kind of guy he is), and that in his eyes I am beautiful. I don't see it, but he does. I need to trust that.

    I hadn't thought about negating those qualities God has placed in me that others see, but I may not. Maybe it's good I don't see them, because I could grow prideful if I saw what others see in me.

    I so appreciate your wisdom, Lindsay!

    1. Love how you put it: "I need to trust that."

      And you're right; it's nice when someone sees something in you that you can't see. I love the Truth Speakers in our lives.

  6. I'm struggling to find a way to word my comment without sounding prideful or boastful. I've actually had the reverse problem for most of my life. Ever since I can remember, I've had people lavish compliments on me. It caused a lot of pride--which means God has had to do a lot of humbling in my life. My mom used to warn me to be careful of pride. She said she watched people complimenting me and knew I was taking credit and not placing the credit where it was due. I had to come to the place you mentioned above: whenever anyone compliments anything about me, I have to immediately turn the compliment over to God and give Him the credit, because the only good they see in me is the good He's placed there.

    1. I know what you mean. I have had this happen to me in one area: singing. I remember the time when God confronted me about it too. He's reminded me ever since that day that I need to do what I do for HIM, not for my own glory.

      And for the record, you're one of the humblest people I know. I so admire you!

  7. Oooh, girl. Been there! My husband has gotten very frustrated with me over the years because of my inability to accept a compliment. I agree with your assessment above-- sometimes I believe that the other person is flawed in their thinking. "Well, if they really knew me they wouldn't think that." Although I think I have pretty good self-esteem, it's been an on-again, off-again struggle for me to learn to just say, "Thank you. It means a lot that you would say that." Pride goeth before the fall and all that... but God did make each of us unique, special, and talented. There's nothing wrong with people pointing that out and we ladies learning to accept those compliments with a thankful heart.