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#264652 - 12/01/08 08:05 PM Accepting compliments **Possible Triggers**
FormerTexan Offline

Registered: 09/12/04
Posts: 12156
Loc: Denver, CO
One of the toughest things for myself has been to accept a compliment. It became easier with time, but in the beginning it was near impossible.

As a young teen or twenty-something, I went to great strides to nullify people's nice things they said to me. I don't remember when the switch started, maybe around thirty or so, that I started telling people thank you for their nice comments. It was the right thing to do. "Thanks." I still had my own self-worth issue tapes telling me in my head "They don't mean it. You're still inept, a stumbling idiot." I almost had my own set of greatest hits to listen to every time. I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!

Accepting a compliment took me out of my familiar territory of a downward self-hating spiral of shame. it was a scary place, that someone was telling me something nice. Either they were a liar who could not be trusted with anything, or they meant well but were sorely mistaken. What? Are you talking to me? Surely you mean the other person 100 yards off in the distance, just to my left. Meanwhile, across the room, two kids could bust out laughing over something I would not be privy to, and yet they had to be laughing at me. It was the written law of the universe, carved in the stone of the ages, that they had to be mocking me somehow. Hence, I am not worth complimenting. I am only good for being abused, used and scorned.

Many years and tears later, including seven years of therapy, I can accept a compliment with a genuine thank you. I have managed to throw away my old self-hate tapes, seeing that the sound quality was pretty lousy anyway. Admittedly, there are still some I saved to CDR, and keep in a box, on a shelf in my head somewhere.

Tell people thanks, and keep telling them thanks for their nice words. After a while, your brain will tell itself I say thank you, so I must believe it.


Money talks, but all it tells me is goodbye.

If I could meet myself as a boy...

#264677 - 12/01/08 09:34 PM Re: Accepting compliments **Possible Triggers** [Re: FormerTexan]
Roofus Offline

Registered: 01/24/08
Posts: 233
Loc: Utah

THANK YOU! Thank you for sharing that. and just Thanks for all you do.


#264679 - 12/01/08 09:38 PM Re: Accepting compliments **Possible Triggers** [Re: FormerTexan]
Trucker51 Offline

Registered: 05/21/08
Posts: 2826
Loc: Denver, CO
I remember looking at the floor or averting my gaze whenever someone gave me a compliment. And I remember my dad always trying to balance anything that I did well with all of my faults from the past so that he didn't have to acknowledge that I had done anything right. More recently I tried really hard to get my boss to compliment me but saying thanks was fairly hard early on. I am getting better at saying thanks over time.

My old self-hate tapes were originally in vinyl, and as yet I do not own a DVD recorder, so my old cassette tapes are getting pretty old these days. If I wait long enough, my old tapes will deteriorate enough with age so that they will be of no use anyways! We already used all my old vinyl for clay pigeons and I would do the same with my old tapes if we could figure-out a way to make them fly like old 33 rpm records.

Keep up the good work Andy,


"We stay here, we die here. We've got to keep moving". Trucker Mark

#264688 - 12/01/08 10:48 PM Re: Accepting compliments **Possible Triggers** [Re: Trucker51]
michael banks Offline

Registered: 06/12/08
Posts: 1755
Loc: Mojave Desert, Ca

Are you sure that you are not talking about me?
What you wrote fitts me to the T. It is as if you took the words right out of my mind.
I used to hate getting compliments. As soon as someone said one to me, my flight response would kick in and I would not stick around long enought to see if they meant it.
Positive responses were so foreign to me that they scared me to death. I would always wonder what is it that they really wanted from me.
I associated compliments to being abused. Because all those in my life who said they loved me would always hurt me.

It has taken me along time to believe that there is anything good in myself. But today I can accept a compliment and accept it as truth about myself. Because today I see that I do have good qualities as a person.

Today when those old self-abuse tapes start I recognize it.
And quickly change my thinking into more positive and self accepting pattern.
It has taken alot of time but today I truely like myself and can accept myself for who I am.

Andy great topic. thanks for posting it.


To own one's shadow is the highest moral act of a human.
-Robert Johnson-

"IT ought never be forgotten that the past is the parent of the future" John C. Calhoun

WOR Alumni Sequoia 2009

#264699 - 12/01/08 11:22 PM Re: Accepting compliments **Possible Triggers** [Re: michael banks]
dgoods Offline

Registered: 10/15/07
Posts: 622
Loc: Richmond area
Hi Andy,
Yes, this topic hits home for me- all sorts of things still try their hardest to swirl around in my head, any time i'm paid a compliment... i wish i could inwardly process them as easily as i can outwardly acknowledge them, but there's still a whole chain-reaction set off by them, depending on both the compliment and the complimenter. The better they know me, and the harder it is to dismiss out of hand the possible veracity of the compliment, then the longer it takes the internal dust to settle, so to speak. It can run the gamut from childlike blushy, stammery "Aww gawrsh..." feelings, to some sort of odd, distant, seething yet cold "you have absolutely no idea of how very wrong you are..."
I guess i'm at that point where i can intellectually see where i need to go recovery-wise, though i might not be emotionally there yet; hence my appreciation for the slogan "Fake it 'til you make it".

Fear, anger, shame, and pain may have been the driving factors in my life for years, and still might be today, more than i'd care to admit- but at least i'm no longer quite the ostrich i used to be ;-)

Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak
Whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break.

-William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act IV, Sc. III

#266077 - 12/09/08 04:42 AM Re: Accepting compliments **Possible Triggers** [Re: dgoods]
FormerTexan Offline

Registered: 09/12/04
Posts: 12156
Loc: Denver, CO
"Fear, anger, shame, and pain may have been the driving factors in my life for years.."

I think that may go for most of us, my friend. Shame espcially gets in the way of accepting compliments. Shame has been so driven into our thought processes, that a compliment seems almost a threat to the familiar. Shame may very well make us feel "at home," and a compliment is like sleeping in the car. It's somewhat rest, but a mighty uncomfortable one.

Money talks, but all it tells me is goodbye.

If I could meet myself as a boy...

#267017 - 12/13/08 09:55 PM Re: Accepting compliments **Possible Triggers** [Re: FormerTexan]
Tom Perry Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/16/04
Posts: 87
Loc: London
Yup - I relate to to the compliment thing completely.

I recently had to participate in a Q&A session at a venue that hosted a screening of a documentary in which I'd been a contributor. The film is about "the subject." I asked the organiser to ask the audience to forego any compliments - just to ask the questions, or criticize if they felt it was warranted. Pleasingly they cooperated.

My psychologist asked if my abuser had paid me compliments - of course she hit the nail on the head. In my forthcoming sessions of psychology, these issues are on the agenda.

It is better to light one candle than curse the darkness.

#267025 - 12/13/08 11:32 PM Re: Accepting compliments **Possible Triggers** [Re: Tom Perry]
healing_inside Offline

Registered: 03/28/05
Posts: 2007
Hi Andy,

I can relate also. When someone trys to complement me I sort of ignore it and change the subject real quick. I just don't belive them, or just maybe I can't accept that I did something note worthy of a complement.

Tom: That is an interesting question from your T. I need to see if that fits for me.


I can't come to the phone right now, I am out living my life

*** WoR Retreat Alumni - Alta 2005 ***

#267030 - 12/14/08 12:25 AM Re: Accepting compliments **Possible Triggers** [Re: healing_inside]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA

I had pretty much the same experience for years. The explanation that abuse had taught me for my existence and my place in the world led me to believe that I was worthless, or rather, only good for one thing. As you say, it was a terrible way to think but at least it was familiar.

And that meant that any compliments HAD to be false, and incredibly dangerous since they threatened to take me into new ways of thinking about myself, and who knows where that would lead.

All this was cemented into my thinking by the way the abuser complimented me, at key moments, and called me "lovely boy". Any compliment just filled me with dread that at any moment it could all start all over again. And experiences in my 20s had "proved" to me that there was no alternative to this way of thinking.

It's amazing how these old broken perceptions can keep hold of us for years and years, isn't it? We can easily detect their utter falsehood when we see them in others, but when it comes to ourselves they are still carved in stone.

Much love,

Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

#267048 - 12/14/08 02:56 AM Re: Accepting compliments **Possible Triggers** [Re: roadrunner]
king tut Offline

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 2488
Loc: UK
yeah i think one of the reasons why compliments are hard to accept is because compliments are not constructive, criticism is constructive and we always feel we need to improve ourselves, but compliments have a finality that say put your feet up and take a second to rest, you've achieved something, but that isn't acceptable, we cant accept any kind of contentment, how could we deserve such a thing, how could we be content about anything when we feel so broken inside, these people paying compliments don't have a clue, or i am just faking it until i make it and when i make it i will really know and then i wont care for compliments anyway because i will already be content, and all sorts of babble being spun off at a hundred miles per hour, the fact is, it is hard to accept compliments, believe them, because your mind tells you that they really havent got a clue, and actually i am standing right on the edge but at this particular moment my car happens to have a brand new paint job, but the paint will chip and fall off because it is full of rust beneath and then i will feel like a damn idiot for sitting in my garage drinking beers when really i should have been sanding down all the rust, so no, i wont accept compliments, because they will come back to bite me in the butt when i'm speeding at 80mph down the M4 and the engine falls out of my car, that kind of stuff, i'm in a babbling mood, but that's all i have to say right now.

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