Not Accepting Compliments Doesn’t Make You Humble, It Makes You Self-Depreciating

Sometimes, especially as a woman, unsolicited comments about our person can be quite uncomfortable and leave us in a position where we don’t know how to respond. For many, this experience is somewhat distressing and leads us to deflect. As a self proclaimed introvert and INFP, I don’t spread my attention too broadly amongst the public. I usually set out to do the tasks at hand when I’m in large public spaces, and don’t go out of my way to commingle. Although, of course, if people talk to me I’m more often than not friendly and have no problem in engaging in conversation, but it’s never my intent. So when perfect strangers approach me with something about myself, it takes me off guard because doing something like that is out of character for me. In this fast paced society, regardless of what kind of personality you have, it can take you off guard when people go out of their way to show acts of kindness.

So why are so many of us so quick to deflect compliments and praises, especially from strangers who stand to gain nothing from going out of there way to do so?

What part of ourselves are so quick to divert the attention away from ourselves, deeming these unsought compliments fruitless, and even more so, incorrect?

Are our reactions to appreciation a reflection of how we feel about ourselves overall?


There’s a certain hypocritical air that floats around being modest nowadays. We’re bombarded with messages about loving yourself. Hey, I’ve preached it before myself. It’s getting jammed down our throats everyday, love yourself, love yourself, love yourself. But just not too much, ya know? If you love yourself too loudly so everyone else can hear it, you’re a narcissist. If you post too many selfies or take the time to to make yourself up before leaving the house, you’re obsessed with yourself. Just wondering, does the general public actually know the definition of narcissism? Unless you’re getting sexual gratification from admiring yourself so damn much, I think it’s pretty safe to say that you’re not a narcissist or on an unhealthy spectrum of egocentrism. Why are acts of self-care and self-love so quickly dismissed as narcissism? Is actually giving a shit about yourself so outlandish it becomes comparable to having an inordinate fascination with yourself?

Self-love isn’t frivolous, its essential to having a healthy relationship with yourself. Deflecting and diminishing the good things that make you, you only serves to keep you small. I’m not saying run around the office with a huge poster that says “I’M FUCKING AWESOME,” shoving it in everyone’s faces while throwing confetti about because your mere existence is a God damn party. You might not only be a narcissist if you do that, but certifiably socially inept. What I am saying is, you’re not any less of a person if you accept a genuine compliment. You’re not doing yourself any favors in your relationship with yourself, or other people, by rejecting the things about you that make you great. Being humble isn’t deflecting a harmless, kind compliment. Rejecting your strong suits and the genuine aspects of yourself that make you a wholly unique addition to our world, is self-depreciating, and harmful. (NOTE: I’m not talking about the genuine, frightening street harassment that women face, that’s a whole other topic I get pretty heated about and would love to dedicate to an entire other post.)

Don’t let people who are insecure with themselves delude you into believing that accepting your strong suits is a form of self-obsession and narcissism. Don’t let society’s constant assertion that there’s something wrong with you or the opinions of crotchety baby boomers keep you from accepting kindness from other people. When you reject people’s genuine admiration, it sends the message that not only do you not like yourself very much, but that they wasted their time in even going out of their way to compliment you.

Nowadays, when people have something nice to say to me, I don’t feel bad accepting their kind words. Sometimes I compliment back, other times I just say “Thank you,” excitedly and go on my merry way. I move forward keeping in mind that someone did or said something nice to me out of the goodness of their heart, and that should be the most important takeaway. Not whether or not I felt I deserved it. (Which I do, duh.)

I’m not gonna end this post on some Gandhi level shit, so let me just say this: Lighten up, okay? Let the kindness of others in. It’ll only make things better for everyone.





5 thoughts on “Not Accepting Compliments Doesn’t Make You Humble, It Makes You Self-Depreciating

  1. Hello Jeanine,

    Thank you for visiting my blog. I like to always pop over to someone else’s blog when they visit to see what they have to say about life, and after reading several of your posts, I have to say that in addition to finding you to be an excellent writer, I also felt like I was reading about myself through a time portal as many of the thoughts and issues you discuss are ones that I went through and probably would have blogged about if such things actually existed back in the day. 🙂 So it’s not only nice to meet another thinking human being, but one who might at least think similarly to me.

    I’d still call myself an introvert, but I have become more extroverted over time. I love meeting people and learning about them, because I learned early on that everybody has a story to tell that you can learn something from, and I love to learn. The fact that you can get into an in depth and personal talk at an airport bar while waiting for a plane is a wonderful thing to me and I decided I didn’t want to be the type of person to lose out on those opportunities. Anyway, my point is that for a long time I felt very nervous about giving compliments. There is a vulnerability to even giving somebody a sincere compliment that I think is often overlooked. You are sometimes speaking your heart, there is a realness to that moment. And it kind of sucks when somebody just denies the compliment or else assumes that you didn’t really mean it, but were just saying it to be nice. I get it, I mean there are people who are insincere in this world, but I think in general people trying to fake compliments are in the minority. When I realized that it made me feel bad when someone didn’t believe my compliment, or even have the politeness to thank me, I decided that I needed to make sure to honor other people’s compliments. It’s okay to be gracious, even if you don’t believe it. And maybe in the grand scheme of things most people think you suck, but it’s probably worth a little of your time to pay attention to the people who think you don’t. 🙂 My ex-girlfriend said to me once that not everybody in this world is going to think your amazing, it’s worth pausing to appreciate the ones that do. 🙂

    I am not sure if you’ve heard of the NPR podcast The Hidden Brain, but I think you would like it. There was an episode a couple of months ago that was talking about positive thoughts. It turns out feeling positive about yourself might not always be a good thing. That often the positive thought acts like a shot of dopamine in the brain and we start to rest on our laurel’s a bit. I’ve read also that optimistic people are not often more successful than pessimistic or cynical people. It seems that to push ourselves to better we do sometimes have to be in a mindset where we maybe don’t think the best of ourselves in order to grow. The human psyche is super complicated. lol I think that we have to find a balance between letting positive thoughts about ourselves dominate and stop us from pushing ourselves and growing, while at the same time stop negativity from giving us stress, anxiety, depression which can also paralyze us to inaction as well. Finding that middle ground is no easy task.


    • Wow, this is such a great comment! Thanks so much also for stopping by and reading some of my posts, I truly appreciate it! And I completely agree, there is a vulnerability in complimenting or praising others, especially in that it usually is a completely selfless act that we take the time out of our day to do. There really is no benefit to telling someone you like their shoes on line at CVS, other than you might make their day a little better. You as the giver mostly remain unaffected, so it’s definitely worth noting I think that someone even bothered at all. Some of us more reserved people have a hard enough time with necessary social interactions, not all of us are social butterflies!
      The theory around the concept of that podcast episode is quite interesting as well. I haven’t heard it, but I have listened to a few episodes of Invisibilia which is also by NPR and find those super fascinating! I’ll have to look into this one as well. There is definitely a balance between being insanely positive and overly critical of oneself, my major gripe with it all and a lot of things I post are about how we’re constantly being bombarded with negativity and comparisons to make us feel not good enough. Striving to be the best version of yourself is ideal, but you’re never gonna hate yourself into a better you. There’s gotta be a healthy foundation to start. Here’s to hoping we all find it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Agreed and well said. Yeah, I certainly didn’t want to imply that there isn’t a lot of negativity out there, and most of it is not good. We are constantly on display in this age of social media and the world is full of critics who seem to have no more purpose than to make you feel like you aren’t worth your weight and salt. And there is no question that women face this negativity more often than men so their fight unfortunately is much tougher. I was simply thinking though that there may be some natural tendency in us to fight off feeling too positive. Studies of the brain show that we respond to negative stimuli 5 times stronger than positive ones, which makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint where we lived in the wild, but in civilization it’s turning out to be a bit of a downer. 🙂 Especially with global communication and how much negative things we can be exposed to.

        I love Invisibilia too! I haven’t started on the new season yet. I usually listen to podcasts on my way to work, but I’ve been full time dad this summer while school has been out! I’ll need to catch up. Hopefully you enjoy The Hidden Brain. It’s shorter and good for a 25 minute commute somewhere. 🙂

        And I’m about to add more comments to your posts, so please don’t feel like you have to respond to all of them…I’m a binge commenter when I find a new blog I like. LOL


  2. This is a really powerful post!!! I really appreciate how well you have represented your viewpoint, and also tackled some other very strong viewpoints that present themselves so often.

    I thoroughly believe that graciously accepting genuine compliments is very important 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing this!! Your writing is quite powerful.


    Liked by 1 person

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