When compliments feel like LIES… and what to do about it.

Spread the love

When a compliment feels like a lie…  and what to do about it.

When a Compliment Feels Like a Lie... and what to do about it #personaldevelopment #selfesteem


You are out with your friends when an attractive man/woman comes up to you and compliments you on something about your appearance.

How do you react?

Well, there are many ways in which we can react and I think all of them would depend on the context of the situation and how you feel inside. You could react negatively, get embarrassed or feel ridiculed, or you could smile and accept the compliment.

Which reaction do you usually display?

Compliment rejection and body image

Compliments can be a tricky thing and how we react to them can really say a lot about what we feel and think inside, as well as the culture in which we are brought up. It’s been shown that a lower self-esteem tends to go hand in hand with the inability to accept compliments easily. People with lower self-esteem seem to be difficult to compliment: they usually get embarrassed, feel ridiculed, or like they are being put on the spot when all they really want to do is hide. In this case, the negative reaction doesn’t only make the complintee (compliment-receiver) feel worse, it often makes the complimentor (compliment-giver) feel bad and confused for causing this reaction. (Yes, I made these two terms up lol)


Him: “I think your body is so sexy”
Her: “..Oh.. hah.. please…” *scoffs, embarrassed*

(now her mind is going crazy – “how could he say that about my body, I’m nowhere near my goal weight! I appreciate that he’s trying to be nice and stuff but I know he would rather be with someone who actually has a fit body; ugh, now all I’m gonna think about is my body and that he really does NOT think it’s sexy, I’m not stupid – I know all about reverse psychology! Ugh…”)

In this situation, a man who is clearly attracted to this woman wants to verbally express his desire and affection for her physical shape. However, because the woman is clearly self-conscious about her body, she dismisses the compliment and feels embarrassed that the man has noticed and put her on the spot about it. She may think that it’s his reverse-psychology way of telling her she’s not actually sexy and should lose a few pounds. She may think that he’s just saying that to make her feel better about herself but doesn’t actually mean it.

When a Compliment Feels Like a Lie... and what to do about it #personaldevelopment #selfesteem

If the woman has poor body image, the compliments that are focused around the thing she feel self-conscious about are more likely to cause her distress. I’m speaking from personal experience and from experiences I’ve read about when researching this topic. When we feel really self-conscious about something and spend a lot of time guilt-ridden and ashamed of that part of ourselves, we tend to deny the feedback we get regarding it that opposes our belief. If we think we’re fat and we are ashamed of our body and perhaps feel unworthy of love and affection on a subconscious level, we will only accept the comments that approve our belief as being rational even when it is completely irrational.

Personal example:

Before I stopped dieting, I would frequently feel fat because I wasn’t at my goal weight. I was obsessed with dieting, felt felt ashamed of my body and felt guilty for not being able to reach goal. I was practically waiting for someone to call me “fat.” I was looking for the negative feedback to come because it would prove to me that I was right and my thinking was indeed logical. When the feedback came as the opposite, when I was complimented as having a nice and lovable body, I didn’t know how to react – after all, this would mean that my beliefs were irrational and untrue – and we want to protect our beliefs. The negative self-conscious thoughts do not believe the compliments and see them as being ridiculed or made fun of rather than true. Anything to protect our beliefs. 

Regardless of what popular culture magazine tells us, men are actually attracted to a myriad of body shapes and sizes. There are men (and women) out there who are attracted to a whole range of body types. There is not one universal body shape that literally every single person in the world is attracted to.

This verbal expression of adoration is meant to be exchanged and received in a loving manner. It is not always easy for people to compliment others and express how we feel verbally. It often takes courage to speak our true feelings. This could have been the case for this particular man.

Having the compliment be entirely dismissed by the woman not only makes the man confused, it might also make him hurt for being shot down… Because rejecting a heart-felt compliment feels like rejection. Rejection is a very unpleasant feeling and no one wants to feel that. This could cause the man to refrain from complimenting the woman (or other women) in the future. And what’s the good in that?

The role of compliments in a healthy lifestyle

Do we actually need compliments? Is receiving and giving compliments unnecessary for our optimal living experience?

According to the Rule of Esteem, “all humans need and want praise, recognition, and acceptance. Acceptance and praise are two of our deepest cravings. We need affection to satisfy the need to belong, we want praise so we can feel admired, and we want recognition to satisfy our need for personal growth.”

Whether we care to admit it to ourselves or not, we are complex beings who were meant to connect and form bonds with other human beings.

This is interesting because there are many people out there who lack true emotional and spiritual connections with others. Sometimes it’s people who are extremely introverted; sometimes it’s people who are very hardworking and spend their days at their jobs; yet sometimes it’s people who simply don’t know how to connect and think they are better off without making any connections in an effort to avoid getting hurt.

Regardless of how accepting you currently are of affection, connecting with another human being on an affectionate and loving level can add a great deal of positivity to your life, such as:

    • a significant reduction in stress and depression levels
    • physical affection releases feel-good hormone, oxytocin
    • physical affection is related to lower blood pressure
    • increases your relationships with others
    • increases your overall mood and betters your outlook on life

Being an affectionate person and openly receiving affection and compliments, as you can see, has health benefits that are impossible to ignore. You might be wondering then, how can we stop feeling like this whenever we get a compliment about a part of ourselves we are not comfortable with.

How to receive compliments

The thing is – it’s really important to accept compliments properly. I’m not talking about grace or social manners, I’m talking about something bigger than that – the law of attraction. What you say and believe, you manifest. The more you say something, the more your subconscious will believe it, even if you don’t necessarily mean it at the time. This can go both ways:

Situation 1:
Person 1: “Your hair looks so nice today!”
Person 2: “Oh no, are you kidding- It looks so terrible, but thanks, I guess”

Situation 2:
Person 1: “Your hair looks so nice today!”
Person 2: “Aw, thank you, you’re such a sweetheart.”

Okay, so I don’t know if this is actually how you would react but I know these are the two ways in which I have reacted to the same compliments before, at different points in my life. Regardless of whether you think your hair looks good that day or not, and whether you the person truly meant it (unless that person was blatanly sarcastic… If so, then just respond sarcastically back! That bitch! lol), just accept the compliment and move on.

What you say out loud, your subconscious will eventually believe and will manifest. The root of poor compliment receiving is usually low self-esteem or poor body image or something of the sort. A way to increase your self esteem is through self-love. Accept yourself for who you are, right now and right here, and you will ultimately lead a much much happier and more fulfilling life.

The more you begin to accept compliments and accept that what they are saying is indeed true, no matter what your mind chatter might be telling you at the moment, the more you will begin to believe it. And thus, your relationship with yourself will begin to change for the better.

But… It’s easy in theory – give and receive compliments and you will lead life of better quality. Easier said than done, right? It does seem like this right now but this is actually much easier to take ahold of than you might think.

2 Simple Steps to Taking Compliments Like a Champ

2 Steps to taking compliments like a champ

So I don’t think there are actual compliment-taking champs, but let’s just say there are for the sake of this conversation. Here are some tips to help you learn to become more comfortable with accepting compliments and beginning to manifest them as being true in your own life.

1. Practice saying “Thank You” in the mirror. First, look at yourself and tell yourself a compliment. This is best if you compliment yourself on a body part you are not yet entirely comfortable with (and don’t be sarcastic about it, either). Then… take it in. Smile. Accept it. Say “thank you”. Repeat this daily. This not only will help you accept compliments more easily and effortlessly, this is also one of the best ways to begin building your body image back up. Self love is the key!

2. Start complimenting others! If we have trouble seeing the beauty in ourselves, we tend to have trouble seeing the true beauty in others. We are all beautiful in our own ways. Begin to let this fact soak in and truly ponder it. Begin looking at people through eyes of love. Find things you admire and love about other people – whether they are your family, friends, or strangers. Then start verbalizing the admiration. A simple “You look great today” can really end up brightening someone else’s day as well as your own.

Being able to take compliments properly can not only give you all the benefits that go along with receiving affection but also it will deepen your relationship with the complimentor. This will cause him to be happy for having given you the compliment and if you reciprocate, whether right then and there or in general, this will create a positive cycle of affection. Affection = good. Remember that. Cheers!

PART 2: Check out my post about: “Before you compliment someone, think about this first” – for another perspective on compliments, this time it’s about giving them.

Questions for you:

  • How do you usually take compliments?
  • What type of compliments do you have the hardest time accepting?

Let me know in the comments, let’s discuss!

Sources: Research Matters, Persuasion Laws, Psychology Today, Today, HuffPost

Last Updated on March 27, 2019

Rate this post


  1. Great read! Taking compliments is not easy for me. Sad but true. It makes me uncomfortable. And even worse, when someone compliments me on an accomplishment I down play it like it was not big deal. Inside? I want to jump for joy!

    • Yeah that’s the societal factor that I did not really address in this article but it is definitely a big thing for many of us as well. The scene from “Mean Girls” comes to mind when they are all complaining about their bodies and they basically expect Lindsay Lohan’s character to complain about hers. Accepting compliments was portrayed as bad and as being self-absorbed. Which is what many of us think they will be portrayed as and it’s really unfortunate. The people that would judge us based on that kind of thing are not people we should have in our lives anyway because they are clearly negative. I hope you can start becoming more comfortable with just accepting the compliments that come and start manifesting what you truly deserve in life 🙂

  2. I have a hard time accepting compliments. I usually will say thanks but then add something to downplay it. Great tips!

  3. Wow I love this. I can so relate to having an irrational belief about yourself and then waiting for someone to say it so you can validate it. Thank you for this great post!!!

    • Hey Andrea, well I’m glad to see I’m not alone and totally nuts about that then. Well, I guess I’m not glad you feel that way too cause it sucks seeking negative validation but yeah! We aren’t alone. And it’s good to recognize it and fight against it! Thanks for reading!

  4. This is a WONDERFUL post as many audience (including me) can defiantly relate!

  5. Taking compliments can be hard. I even see it in my five year old. When complimented about something that she should be proud of she often doesn’t want you focusing on her. It is strange that this is almost a natural response. When I am complemented I usually say thank you and will often find something to compliment the other person on as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.

    • Yes absolutely. Keep in mind, I did not really talk about the cultural issues that surround this as well – it’s likely that this is the main reason for your little girl rather than the self-esteem I mentioned, but you never know. I’m thinking this is a good idea for a second post.. the cultural norm around compliments. Thank you! xo

  6. honestly? now? finally at age 44?

  7. I was so lucky that in high school I had a youth group leader who spent her time teaching us girls about taking & BELIEVING compliments! It can still be hard, especially on days when I feel gross, ugly, etc., but I have learned to appreciate the compliment.

    • Oh I am so happy you had a youth group leader like this – hearing feedback like this makes me want to teach young girls about the importance of this as well. Being young and watching Tv (the shows they play now… oh man) does not help their self-esteem in the slightest. It either makes them feel even worse OR it inflates their ego to the highest. Genuine affection and acceptance of that affection is not as easy to come by. I hope more young girls will get an opportunity to learn this as well. Thank you for reading!

  8. This is a great post, I will be honest I am not the best at taking a compliment, so this is pretty much exactly what I need to take to heart:)

  9. Pingback: The Mental Nature of "Fat" Days - Sensual Appeal

  10. I adore this post – and wish every woman in my life could read it!

  11. I am TERRIBLE about accepting compliments, so I defintiely needed to read this! Great post!

  12. I love your post! I feel so uncomfortable in accepting compliments too maybe it’s because I would get a complement followed by a diss. Example, you’re such beautiful person, however, if you lose weight your beauty will shine through for others to see. I take it in and let it eat me up inside…
    Ill try your steps in the mirror. Thanks again for the post!

    • Well, truthfully – those people are assholes. You are beautiful no matter what and if they have to say that, they are clearly insecure about their own bodies. That’s how that works. You deserve to be friends with people who will only lift you up higher, not who will be judgmental and ask you (indirectly) to change! xoxo

  13. This takes sooo much practice and is something I’m admittedly still working on. What an important idea, though, to think that you’re worthy enough of praise! These are such helpful tips, Kammie. Thank you!

  14. Love this post. I tend not to take compliments very well. I force myself to smile and say thank you, but I usually feel unworthy of the compliment I am receiving.

  15. This is sooooo important! I taught my mom this a few years ago. The only time I struggle with complements is when a creepy old guy gives me one, which seriously happens way more than you might think.

  16. I love this post! I can relate to everything. I have to admit, I a little awkward when it comes to taking compliments. I just don’t know how to respond to them the right way.

    Love love this! 🙂

  17. Lovely post that helps alot of us! I’m not the best at compliments, especially when it comes to work, so thanks for writing this!

  18. This is great! For a really long time, compliments were really hard for me to accept. When someone complimented me on something, I always felt like I HAD to look for something to compliment them back about. For instance, if someone complimented me on my hair or makeup, I would immediately look for something about their hair or makeup that I liked so I could give a compliment right back to them. It was hard for me to do and it was really annoying to do too. Besides, it never seemed like I was being true to me.

    Now (perhaps because I am older and wiser), I can easily dish out compliments freely and openly to people I know or meet (sometimes to strangers too). If I like something, I will tell them. A smile or a thank you is the best gift I can receive in exchange for my honest to good thoughts. and words. I can now accept compliments much better now as well..without feeling like I have to pay a compliment back.

    • That’s amazing, Maria! I’m so happy to hear this. I think it does come with growing older but regardless – it’s important to realize and I’m so happy to hear it comes to you freely now. Not only are you making other people’s days, they may be making yours too.. because like you said, that simple smile and “thank you” is what makes it worth it 🙂

  19. I think that women in general have a hard time accepting compliments- me included. Often I’ll find myself saying “no, etc.” to a compliment and have to just stop myself and pause- and say “thanks!” I think that I’ve learned to do this more because I hate when people don’t just say “thanks” when I compliment them!
    Unfortunately there are SOME people that will say a compliment without really meaning it- but it’s still easier to just say THANK YOU. 🙂
    Great post!!

    • Thanks Lauren! This brings me to a thought I totally forgot to mention in the article (maybe it’s a good thing, this whole thing is already long as it is, haha). I remember when I was dating this one guy 2 years ago (my last bf) and at one point he said “Do you just hate getting compliments? I won’t compliment you anymore.” And I was shocked because I didn’t even REALIZE I was rejecting all the compliments he would give me. Apparently it was hurting him and I was rejecting his affection in that way. It surprised me because no, I LOVE compliments and they are important because they give us the feeling of adoration and affection (whether we realize it or not) and they are crucial to a healthy relationship (imo). Him saying this was very shocking and I didn’t even know what to say. Just a little side note. But I’m glad you’ve learned to just say thank you. Even if the person doesn’t mean it – say thank you and move on. They can wallow in their own negativity and sarcasm on their own.

      Thanks for reading!!

  20. I love this! I started working harder at taking compliments when I decided it was more lady like than refusing them… but what I found was that it really boosted my self esteem! I worked backwards from your method, I wish it would have been the other way around.

  21. Hi Kammie,
    I can tell you that I do find a myriad of shapes personally attractive. It seems like each body type looks good in a certain way. I have actually looked at an attractive woman and thought to myself, “If she could gain about 15 or so pounds she would look even better.”

    Just my 2 cents, 🙂

  22. This is such an inspirational post. Thanks for sharing <3

  23. Pingback: Bean Bytes 72

  24. Pingback: Food for the… #3 | Eating For Balance

  25. Pingback: Before you compliment someone, think about this first - Sensual Appeal

  26. Pingback: Some recent updates to Sensual Appeal - Sensual Appeal

Leave a Comment