Likewise, my mum always plays it down when I praise her for this and that. She would protest whenever I compliment her on her cooking. She would look at me increduously when I tell her that her beauty radiates from within. And she thinks I am lying when I say she is the kindest person I know.
Most people around us tend to negate praise or even turn positive words into something negative. I am equally guilty. When people attributed my securing a scholarship to my exam results, I smiled uncomfortably and answered, "I was just lucky." When friends heaped flattering remarks on my new hairstyle, I squirmed in embarrassment. When colleagues patted me on the back for some good work that I had done, I was quick to dismiss it, "Oh, it was nothing."
Worse, at times we may even suspect that the person has an ulterior motive or may be slyly insinuating the opposite when a praise is given. When I was told that I read very well, it crossed my mind as to whether that person was trying to get into my good books. When praised for a new blouse that I was wearing, it occurred to me that the person could mean I look like a fat cow. When an ex-student made it a point to express his gratitude to me for bringing English alive to him, there was a fleeting thought as to whether he had been bored to death in my class.
All these could stem from a low self esteem or a super active suspicious mind. Whatever reason it could be, I have realised that I am not being fair to myself as well as to others. By rejecting a compliment, I am denying myself the opportunity to feel good about myself. At the same time, I am robbing others the joy of having made someone's day with a sincere praise.
I resolve to make a conscious change. The next time I am complimented, I shall accept the praise graciously. I will not eye the person suspiciously and dissect the praise. I shall not negate or dismiss the compliment. I will not downplay my achievement or ability. Instead, I shall smile sincerely, thank the person and go on to feel good about myself.