Yesterday, I had my last group therapy session. Nearing the end, the therapists asked what we wanted to do as a final exercise. Because we’d been talking about how one other woman’s goal for the next term is to learn to accept compliments, we figured we’d start early, and do a compliments round.
It turned out to be more difficult than expected. Not just thinking up compliments and giving them, that’s generally easy enough (though it does take some practice). But being on the receiving end? It’s hard, it’s really bloody hard.
It’s a process I’ve been going through myself lately, so I’ve had the opportunity to pick up on some pointers here and there, and I’m going to share them with you today.
Why am I sharing how to accept compliments? Because I know 100% sure that it’s not just the ones with social anxiety and/or low self-esteem that have difficulty accepting compliments.
We learn in society not to brag too much, arrogance is Bad, and acknowledging you might have done something right is the Absolute Worst. At the very least, it’s what we learn in Dutch society. Our society is very much one of “just stay down to earth”, “stay humble”, you know the deal.
So here’s what you should do when someone compliments you on anything: you say thank you. That’s all. That’s literally it.
You don’t say “well yes, thanks, but”. You don’t say “oh no, it’s a team effort”. You don’t say “it’s nothing, really”. You say ‘thank you’. Don’t underestimate this, it’s hard work.
At first, you’re going to think all those other thoughts to yourself. You’re going to think “well, that person is saying this, but really it’s not my doing” or “it’s really not that special”. Don’t worry, you’ll unlearn this undermining behaviour soon enough.
There will come a point where your response will have turned into “yes, thank you! I’m quite proud of this!”
And your life will be all the better for it.