Afraid of compliments?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.


Compliments are like gifts.
Photo courtesy of

Reasons you can’t accept a compliment.

If you find it difficult to accept a compliment, you need to ask yourself, is it humility or low self-esteem? People with adequate self-esteem can accept compliments when they are offered. If you’re finding it difficult to accept compliments, the thoughts and beliefs below may be the cause of your inability to accept compliments.

People with adequate self-esteem can accept compliments when they are offered. If you’re finding it difficult to accept compliments, the thoughts and beliefs below may be the cause of your inability to accept compliments. If you’re finding it difficult to accept compliments, the thoughts and beliefs below may be the cause of your inability to accept compliments.

How many of these compliment interfering thoughts are you holding onto?

You are used to people giving insincere compliments.

If you grew up in a home where you never got complimented for what you did, and the compliments you did get were backhanded insults, you’ve been conditioned to not believe compliments when you receive them. Abusive relationships may have undermined your confidence. When there’s a scarcity of water, people get poisoned by drinking from contaminated wells. If the compliments you received in the past were insincere, you’ve come to avoid even the truthful compliments.

You think you are a fraud.

If you view your successes as accidents, undeserved achievements, you may have an underlying belief that you are a fraud. Even highly successful and creative people are prone to the belief that their past accomplishments have been accidents and that they, in fact, have no ability. Your self-doubts, allowed to grow in magnitude, can leave you doubting your abilities.

You think they want something.

Most people have experienced encounters with flatterers. These people spread insincere compliments around to manipulate others. There’s a part of us that’s always wondering what the person who complimented us wants. When you receive a compliment, think carefully about the person who is giving you that compliment. Are they trustworthy or are they the kind of person who might be seeking to take advantage of you? Genuine people give compliments as a way of acknowledging achievements. If there are people in your life whose compliments seem insincere, you need to re-examine your relationships with them. Surround yourself with people you can trust, and you should have no difficulty in accepting their compliments.

Do you think accepting compliments makes you egotistical?

The belief that too many compliments make someone egotistical is a common misconception. Some parents try to raise their children by just expecting them to always be perfect. The result of never being praised for good behavior, but being constantly reprimanded for errors is a condition called “learned helplessness.”

Think of compliments in the same manner you think of your paycheck. If you work hard, you expect to get paid. Most people expect that over time hard work will result in pay raises. If your boss never pays you, most people won’t stay on the job long. If the things you do for others are not appreciated, you may find it hard to keep doing for them. The compliments that result in egotism are the ones that are handed out even when the person has not accomplished anything.

You don’t feel good about yourself.

Low self-esteem is both a symptom of and a major cause of inability to accept compliments. Work on accepting yourself just as you are. Getting to know both the good and the bad of yourself. Get comfortable with acknowledging to yourself when you’ve done something worthwhile. People who have an accurate self-view can feel good about their accomplishments, compliment themselves, without the need for excessive praise.

You are uncomfortable with appreciation.

Work on appreciating yourself, and others around you. Strive to believe that you are a worthwhile person just like everyone else. When you are in healthy relationships with others, you will both appreciate them, and they will appreciate you. Compliments are one way of expressing your appreciation for both what others do and for their presence in your life.

Are you ready to change your relationship with compliments?

Mentally healthy people get comfortable with both giving and accepting compliments. They are neither desperately hungry for compliments nor do they unnecessarily reject them. When someone offers you a compliment, consider it a gift. Rejecting the compliment, diminishing it by saying it was no big thing, is like rejecting the person who offered you the compliment

Accept the gift of a compliment just as you would some other small token. If you don’t trust the person or their motives, be careful about accepting their compliments. The best thing you can do when offered a compliment is simply to accept it with a gracious thank you.

What will you do to get more comfortable with giving and receiving compliments?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at