(22) Use Compliments to Build Self-Esteem (& stop feeling uncomfortable too)

Updated: Sep 11, 2019


(To stop the discomfort, first know how and why)

It was my day off, but the boss had called me in. Some visitors needed help, but why me? ​

I finally asked one of the guests, and she told me they had requested the best. I froze, silent for a moment and then quickly nodded and moved on. ​

Later, I pulled her aside and admitted, “Sometimes I have trouble with compliments. Thank you for that.” ​

Most of my life has been spent hating compliments (because I felt so uncomfortable) and loving them (because they felt so good); so, of course, I have spent much of my life quickly rejecting them all.

And apparently I have company:

Some people play a game of catch and throw the compliment right back: “That’s a nice jacket.” “Oh, uh, I like your shirt too.”

Some duck their heads and mumble their way out of it, while others completely negate it: "Oh, this old thing? And it didn’t even cost much."

Still others are greatly generous as they deflect their compliment with a kind words toward the designer, the store or you.

And finally, there are those who verbally bury it, by going into a tedious explanation of where they bought it, what it cost and did you know the store almost went out of business! ​​

Despite our need to reject them, have you noticed how quickly most of us perk up when we get a compliment, even a hardly-anything comment? We look like we have not had one in a long time (and really want more).

So why reject them? Well, some of us do not want to appear egotistical, while others feel undeserving, and still others want to avoid feeling indebted. ​

Stop the Discomfort

Note: these 3 steps will slowly stop the discomfort and increase self-esteem

Step 1 Stop & Start - Stop second guessing motives, stop deflecting and start responding with a simple Thank you. This will probably bring up the discomfort of some negative feelings.

Step 2: Relax and let it in - every time we experience a negative feeling, the body tenses, along with our breath (to help stop the feeling of discomfort).

But that constricted reaction also keeps out the compliment. Even when we verbally accept it, any tension within keeps it from fully lifting us.​

As soon as possible after receiving one, take a deep breath and exhale the tension; let each out-breath carry away more, as you feel yourself let go and relax.​

If some time has passed, replay the compliment (several times?), and let it in. Let it settle deep into that place you feel vulnerable: do not try to find this place; just breathe easily and let the compliment settle in (as deep as it can).

​With a bit of practice, that nice lift you use to feel from a compliment can greatly increase in the moment, and because you let it settle deep, it can stay with you, even when the words have been forgotten.

Step 3 Relax and release - The natural (tight) reaction to negative feelings also keeps those feelings inside. As you relax in step 2, let go of those negative feelings by feeling them.

How to Get More Compliments

I hope you are feeling excited about putting compliments to work for you; but, where are they?

Here are 2 ways to bring more of them into your life.​

The first is to give them. BUT! Giving to 'get' never works; people sense the motive; and even if a compliment does come back, it can feel bought.​

Instead, give without expecting a return, and reap these 3 benefits: 1.) a deeper, stronger relationship (which can come from even one, freely given compliment); 2.) the good feeling of watching others brighten; and, 3.) knowing compliments can come flowing back later.

​The hardest part of this can be that Oscar-winning performance, as we convincingly act, as if we do not expect a return.

​And the easiest part? It should be the giving. After all, it takes but a moment to find something to like and about the same amount of time to say it.

​But for some of us, it is not that easy. The key is to do it anyway, and not let a negative reluctance get in the way of your goal: uplifting you and your life.

The 2nd way to bring in more compliments is to use a friend(s). Give them this post; tell them what you want to do; and then suggest, “Every time we talk, let’s give each other one, genuine compliment.”​

After some initial laughter/discomfort, this experience can become both enjoyable and fulfilling, and it can bring you closer too.​

Short version - a gift, a validation

Find a way to keep going 1.) as you lift those around you, one compliment at a time; 2.) as you stop second guessing motives, stop deflecting and start responding with a soft “Thank you; and, 3.) as you let go of the negative and let each compliment settle deep within to lift your self-esteem permanently.

She Was Saying

“If only I could find the right guy, I would give myself to him, and—

I stopped her and asked, “Give your SELF?”

Her eyes widened as she realized what she had said and what she had been doing.

His business was deep in the red, and he was now desperate.

I asked him, “If there was one person on the planet holding you back, who would it be?”

He immediately said, “My Mother.”

She was giving him money to keep his business afloat.

She had also given him the down payment for his house and had recently taken over the payments.

The Problem: we keep hidden how can we move on if we do not know we are stuck?

His insight: "I'm 30 years old and still (like a child) dependant on my mother!" Later, it changed to Untangle from Mom and succeed on my own inner strength.

The power of a deep insight is that it cannot be unseen; it tends to keep prodding, pushing and motivating us into a permanent change (no resolutions needed).

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Imagine seeing the present and past in an instant and knowing that it is no longer you. Imagine the relief of knowing that you are finally moving on, once and for all.

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For more on compliments is How to Respond to a Compliment


The very foundation of personal improvement is self-care/self-love. At this link: https://www.danielsperaw.com/single-post/Self-Care-Self-Love-3-Tips--Raise-Your-Quality-of-Life

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