How To Have Self-Confidence & Accept Compliments
Four tasks to improve self-esteem and self-confidence by simply accepting, collecting and believing in the compliments people pay you
We Brits are terrible for owning our self-confidence. We’re bad at accepting compliments, and this is detrimental to our mental health. When we dismiss compliments we actively play a role in bringing ourselves down, often in a self-deprecating fashion. We may use humour, we may use mirth but ultimately by doing this we minimise our best self.
How many times has someone said to you that they like what you’re wearing and you’ve almost immediately fired back with an “oh, it’s old” or “I got it in the sale”. These might be true statements, but ask yourself, why didn’t you just say “thank you”. Time and time again we minimise our best bits, apologise for them and make excuses for why we’re so damn great.
You’re not alone in this – I catch myself all the time counteracting a positive with a negative. Finding a twisted balance in the name of ‘modesty’. Modesty can be pretty toxic, especially if you use it as an excuse to appear palatable to those you want to impress. It affects your confidence and the perception people have of you. If you’re constantly saying “oh, it was nothing”, people will believe that your effort was just that – nothing. And it isn’t ‘nothing’, is it?
But don’t beat yourself up about it. As I said, I’m as guilty of it too. Let me give you an example. When I cook a slap-up meal, and someone notices that it’s delicious, I’ll usually say that I’ve cooked it better before, minimising the compliment and making it seem like less of a big deal, even though I put my heart and soul, blood, sweat and tears into it. Sound familiar?
Now, let’s get into making some positive changes that we can use together on our journey to being our own biggest fans. Read through the next four points to discover how you can pause, take a breath and respond positively to reinforce the compliment, the achievement or whatever it may be your making less of a fuss about. Because, when we begin to say thank you and believe in what people say about us to us, we begin to do incredible things. So, let’s get into it.
What is active listening? It’s when you fully tune into what someone is saying and allow yourself to absorb it, digest it and think about responding before reacting. Sounds easy, right? It may come as a shock to you, but the majority of the time we tend to react, rather than to respond. I know I do.
When we consciously listen to what is happening, what is being said, we use a part of the brain that lights up our learning senses. In short – we begin to think and when we think, we allow for our brain to take control of our mouth and not the knee-jerk-response-unit, a.k.a captain blurt-out, that seems to always be able to take control of our tongues before we’ve even realised what’s just happened.
Try this. Next time someone pays you a compliment on anything you do, just say thank you. Get used to accepting that somebody thinks that you have done something good. Think of it as an exercise in seeing who you truly are. Self-confidence is achievable.
When you’re feeling more confident that your new reaction is to thank someone, move onto point two.
First things first, don’t beat yourself up about your quick response. It comes from a throwback part of your brain that controls your fight or flight mechanism. If you’re anything like me, the moment someone says something great about something you’ve done you’ll want the ground to swallow you whole.
I know I feel this way because I’m worried I’ll be rejected if people think I’m big-headed or narcissistic. In the past, I have pacified, minimises and stayed very small in the eyes of my peers because that felt safest even though it caused great stress and discomfort. We need to get used to seeing our self-confidence as anything but arrogance.
Once upon a time we had to fear social rejection, because it was a point of survival to fit in. Unfortunately, this shame mechanism serves us little to no purpose now, and we have to unlearn an ancient animalistic reaction that constantly seeks approval but hypocritically makes that effort palatable. This is because for most of our childhoods we’re told; nobody likes a show-off. So, we don’t show off. That is, until now.
Get yourself a little book, a jar and some paper or even a file that you can use to document and keep a real-life record of the lovely things people say about you. You may decide that a bullet journal is a way to go, you do you. This is your process and it needs to suit the way you operate, otherwise, this won’t work. Label it ‘my self-confidence journal’ if that helps you add purpose to what you’re doing.
Make a note of all the things people pay you compliments for. It could be your cooking, your style, your makeup, your driving, your art – anything at all. Start writing those compliments out, you might even read them back to yourself whilst doing this. When you see, hear and do, you reinforce that positive message into your dialogue and self-talk.
It’s easy to dismiss all the amazing things that you do and that you are capable of and sometimes difficult to show self-confidence. When you only focus on the negative, you become the negative – especially if you’re the type of person to always be chasing ‘perfection’. Stop. For one, there’s literally no such thing as perfection. It’s a paradox that exists as an unmeasurable goal. Bin it.
Having a physical thing, that actualises what people say about you to you will help you quieten any doubts you may have about your abilities. Give yourself permission to own that and put value in the good things people believe about you. When you’re not feeling self-confident, allow these words to build you up.
Imposter syndrome can be a real pain in the ass. It eats away at your self-confidence like a plague of locusts. But, here is a technique I have learnt to fight back and if you’re a visual person, it will work for you too. This will also work for you if you like to make up argument responses in the shower or think of what you could have said to someone in hindsight. It’s the ultimate preparation and safeguarding against your own worst critic – you.
Try this. Imagine what your imposter looks like. Imagine the tone of their voice. What clothes do they wear? How would they manifest themselves if they were real? Draw them, make them real.
Once you have this visualised Imagine what you would say to them if they had the audacity to tell you that you had no business trying to do something. Write down those responses. Say them out loud, give yourself some power.
Every time that voice creeps in, allow it to finish speaking and respond with one of your own comebacks and put it to bed. The more you practice this – the stronger you’ll become and eventually, they’ll stop showing up.
I bet you couldn’t count on fingers and toes how many people in your life love you so completely. These are your cheerleaders, your teammates and most importantly your friends.
Ask them to write one short paragraph about you and send it to you. Top tip: get the tissues ready. You will be overwhelmed at the nice, joyful and inspiring things that people say and think about you.
Write these down too. Keep them. Allow these things to build you up so that you have even more ammo to fight back at your self-doubt gremlin.
This self doubter that lives inside you, is nothing more than a bully. Show up for yourself, let your friends show up for you too.
Let me know how this worked for you. Did it help? Tell me what you think in the comments below.