Why You Can’t Take a Compliment — and 20 Great Reasons to Start
Do you scoff when someone sings your praises? Here’s why you should stop shooting down compliments — and start saying ‘thanks!’ instead.
When your friend says that she loves your sweater, you’re quick to fend off the flattery (“This old thing? It’s so last-season!”). When your honey mentions that you look pretty, you respond with a big, fat, “but I feel fat.” And it’s more common than not for you to counter any praise by listing off your flaws.
Sound familiar? Like many other women in the United States, you’re a compliment-carper.
So why can’t you just accept the kind words? There are a number of reasons women refuse to take compliments, according to health writer and body image expert Leslie Goldman, MPH, who recently blogged about the topic. Many females are taught that they should be modest and humble, she recently explained on theToday show. They’re worried that accepting praise could make them appear arrogant. “We don’t want other people to think thatwe think we’re all that. So we downplay our strengths and accentuate our weaknesses.”
But beyond safeguarding against a big ego, many women simply believe the kudos is undeserved. Goldman chalks this up to “inner body bullies” — self-destructing demons that “tell us we’re not thin enough, we’re not good enough, and not worthy enough to take the compliment.”
In fact, research published in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly found that women are doing more than just pooh-poohing praise. The study found that a whopping 93 percent of college-aged women engage in “fat talk,” or sounding off about their flaws to their friends. This toxic talk may seem like harmless chatter among girlfriends, but it can damage self-esteem.
On the flip side, research shows that being able to recognize your positive qualities and accept compliments (simply saying “thank you” the next time a co-worker admires your new haircut) can boost self-esteem and even help fend off depression. Proponents of positive thinking say that giving yourself a pep talk — or believing the kind words of others — when you’re feeling stressed or blue can actually counteract those negative emotions and improve your mood.
So we asked our Everyday Health Facebook fans to share what they love most about themselves. From your big, caring hearts to your big, perky boobs, here’s a sampling of your self-described best attributes.
We think they’re pretty great — and we hope you’ll accept the compliment!
20 Reasons to Pat Yourself on the Back!
- “I love my personality. People always tell me that I light up a room!” — Suzanne Romeo Bahmer
- “I love my sun-kissed freckles! They aren’t visible in the winter months, but in the summer they sure pop out! They are a reminder to apply sunscreen, but they also make me happy to know that summertime is in full swing!” — Tracie Pack Dawson
- “I am definitely not a size 2 and I can’t take a compliment at all … but I like me, my ability to live life, and my ability to find humor in even the crappiest of moments.” — Nicci Baierlein
- “I lost 70 pounds in nine months and am proud of my perseverance to accomplish it.” — Melia Clark Nichols
- “I love my very short, curly hair that chemo has brought into my life.” — Lisa Taylor
- “I have a great chest. No sags and my cleavage rocks. By the way, I’ll be 54 in one month.” — Jacqueline Knight
- “The main thing I like about myself is that I have a big heart and I will do anything in my power to help anyone!” — Suzanne Marie Taylor
- “I love the fact that lipstick makes me feel beautiful … It really does!” — Carmen M. Craig
- “My ass is a little big but I still like it… My chest is hanging a little low these days but I still like it… Hair a little gray but, hey, I still like it! What can I say? I just like me.” — Vickie Snyder
- “I love the fact that I have my daddy’s eyes and a great sense of humor.” — Nancy Magdalene Neblett
- “I’m great at encouraging people.” — Donna Campbell
- “My capacity for love, my faithfulness, compassion, empathy, strength, spirituality — but especially my family. Oh, umm and my hair.” — Maribel Rivera
- “I love that, at 48, I still look great, I’m in good health, and I’m extremely happy. I think my generation is one of the best-looking because we were taught early enough to take care of ourselves. All my friends look amazing!” — Wyndi Molinari Potts
- “I work out hard and I am proud of my body. I believe strong is beautiful!” — Tabitha Sale
- “I was teased about my big lips as a child. But, as an adult, I have learned to love them because I appreciate their natural sexiness.” — Lisa St John
- “Whenever someone says that I look just like someone else they know, I say ‘Oh, she must be beautiful!’” — Tracy Gross
- “Jeans always look good on me! And I’m hilariously funny!” — Christine Miller Thurston
- “I love that I finally learned to accept who I am. It took me close to 40 years, but life is much better when you don’t dislike who you are.” — Jennifer Brewer Bosley
- “I have pretty eyes and great smile. So go ahead and give me a compliment! I can take it!” — Susan Sewell Henry
- “I rock. I mean it.” — Amanda May