Uncomfortable. Maybe that's the right word to best describe how compliments make us feel. So we try to counter these positive words with negative replies, as if negating what was just said will somehow diffuse what we perceive to be an awkward situation.
It's the opposite of the humble-brag because the last thing any of us wants to do is appear vain or overly self-confident. We work hard to become masters at the Art of Downplaying, and before we know it, we can brush off every compliment that comes our way -- practically with ease and the utmost of effortless calm.
It's almost as if we're disconnected from everything we do, like the successes we have in life happen to us rather than being the result of something we did. We're not talented. We're the victims of random happenstance. We couldn't possibly be the cause of our own good fortune -- yet are, of course, the reason behind every single bad thing that's ever happened to us. We're bystanders in our own lives.
Last month, Refinery29 wrote a great trend piece on women and compliments, noting that while women can easily dispense compliments, accepting them is a completely different story.
"Women are typically harsh critics of themselves. So accepting compliments can be difficult if a woman is not self-confident, said Dr. Amy Wechsler, a board-certified dermatologist and psychiatrist. " Women are brought up to apologize for their intellect and to deny positive comments about themselves. I think this is slowly changing, but it's a hard habit to break."I know I'm not AT ALL immune to the Compliment Conundrum, either. It's become a knee-jerk reaction for me to scrunch up my face and shrug off the "nonsense" whenever someone says something nice about me. Even if I'm inwardly proud of myself, I don't want to appear too boastful to the outside world. And it's sort of weird because I'm more comfortable about being proud of myself in the company of my family, but maybe that's just because I'm much more relaxed and open with them. Is it the absence of shame here that makes the difference?
You'll be glad you did.
[Photos via We Heart It]