Why are compliments so hard to accept?



Yesterday at my Care plan meeting I hadn’t expected there to be any positive compliments, I didn’t feel as if I had warranted them so I was surprised.
I sat and felt embarrassed and uncomfortable as the discussion unfolded so desperately wanting the conversation to move forwards, but the professionals seemed intent on giving me this recognition. I was surprised at how it all made me feel and I found it rather strange that my reaction was one of being embarrassed.

Afterwards I asked my psychologist why I felt so uncomfortable and it led to a discussion and me thinking more in depth about why this all felt so odd and surreal. The reality is that positive compliments are something that I’m not so used too, they didn’t make up my life as a child unless they came with a cost. I was most often put down and made to feel small and I grew up thinking I was a pain. I was only ever a good girl if I had to do things I hated and that hurt me and were in reality abusive to me. So I thought I was someone who was worthless, who deserved to be belittled and sadly the professionals I have encountered over the years have in most cases often carried that on too.

I am sure that the professionals didn’t meant to make me feel a troublemaker, or a nuisance but their comments often led to me feeling this way. The times when I was told by nursing staff that I was only self harming for attention or when people would raise the issues of care costs in meetings. Making me feel like a commodity and a cost burden, in truth at most CPA’s over recent years this has happened and I have often felt misunderstood and judged by the very people tasked with helping me.

The reality is of course my reactions both yesterday and in previous moments stem from my past, they stem from when I wasn’t allowed to feel any worth. That is something that I cannot change, my past is my past and yet I can change how I react today, it’s just going to take me sometime.

Compliments are not easy for many people to hear and so I realise I am not alone in feeling uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t warrant them. In truth I am moving forwards and I have taken huge strides forward in recent months and that needed to be recognised. Yesterday the professionals wanted to help me to understand how much I am progressing and how much they recognise that.

I know they have at times been critical and misunderstood me, yet here they were trying to tell me I’m doing good and I just wanted to rush on with the agenda. Goodness I must confuse them at times, it must feel as if they can’t do right for doing wrong.


The reasons for their praise was twofold, one my decision to give back some of my support hours a decision we have thought long and hard about in recent weeks. Since one of our support workers left we have had to manage with less support whilst new staff are found and start working. This change has led to me seeing that with new skills we have learnt in therapy we can manage with less care. This needed to be a decision I made, rather than one imposed upon us and so given recent circumstances I felt able to offer this reduction.

I am still going to have a significant level of care and I will still have 3 part time support workers who together will help us cope with every day life. They will help me to learn the life skills I need and to gain more independence over time. I was very clear that I am not promising reductions every CPA, indeed it will be only when I feel able and ready.

The support workers contracts are safe too because I have set minimum hours on their contracts to allow me to make further reductions later on without impacting them. There will currently therefore be additional hours they can work over their contracts which will help me in the here and now. Yet this will also allow me the freedom to reduce my care further if I feel able in the future without the guilt of worrying about staff.

So with all this security in mind I felt I could offer the saving in my care costs, I don’t have any idea if or when there will be any future reduction. I’m not setting any parameters or targets these are not needed, what is important is me making decisions that I am comfortable with and that work.
The second reason was the fact that I have made steps forward in respect of my therapy, yes there is still much more to be done. But progress however small is important, its a sign that things are working and a sign that I am clearly committed to this process. I know it’s hard work and at times painful but I so want to improve, but it needs to be at a pace I am able to cope with.

There is more understanding from the professionals, they seem to comprehend me better which I really appreciate it. Yes I found the compliments hard to take, I’m not used to them and I am for the time being going to worry that there is a cost for such compliments, as there was in my past. But I know I need to learn to accept this praise and accept I warranted it and most importantly that it is safe. It’s going to take me time to feel comfortable when I receive praise but one day I will, then I will have left that part of my past behind.
Copyright DID Dispatches 2014



5 thoughts on “Why are compliments so hard to accept?

  1. What a plesant surprise and discover for you! I am so very glad they took the time and insisted they share with you all your positives! I totally relate to the praise always came with a cost growing up part.. I find compliments (when I let myself actually hear them) to be scary and highly uncomfortable.. But learning as you are that things are different now. Glad your meeting went well.. you do rock!

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