Owning Your Power Won’t Reduce Mine

Are you one of those people who has a difficulty in accepting a compliment? If so, then this is for you.

Have you ever been told that you look lovely, or that a colour looks great on you? Or has someone complimented something you are wearing and told you that you look fabulous in it? How did you respond? Did you simply smile, say thank you and accept it graciously? Or did you immediately start talking in an effort to deflect or diminish the compliment? If you did the latter, you are not alone.

There are many people who think themselves to be unworthy of the positive feedback which they receive. Many of these people feel like a fraud and on a subconscious level believe that eventually someone is going to find them out. Most of these people just do not see themselves clearly and so do not own their power or potential.

Or how about this. Have you ever been told by someone that you are an intelligent person, or a creative person, or someone that they admire? Did you think that it was kind of them to have taken the time to say that to you, or did you question their motives? Did you wonder what they were up to and start waiting for the other shoe to drop? Or did you immediately feel the need to justify, deflect or suggest that they should feel differently? Did you tell them, no, really it was nothing? Or did you try to get them to stop talking or to change the topic? If so, then you are not alone.

Many people think that by adopting this behavior they are showing humility. Many assume that this is the best and only way to respond to a compliment. Many people consider accepting the praise to be a form of bragging. In many of our cultures around the world, bragging is considered to be a bad and unacceptable form of social behavior. It is seen as vanity or arrogance and these are seen as gateways to some major character flaws.

However, honestly acknowledging who you are and what you can do and being able to stand up, own that and say it out loud is not conceit. It is self awareness and being honest about who you are should never be condemned.

In order for anyone to be the best that they can be, they need to start by being fully aware of their strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement. This requires a person to look at themselves honestly. A part of this honest appraisal involves being open to feedback both positive and negative. It means getting information about what you are doing well, what you should keep doing and what you should stop.

When you try to shut down the compliment because you feel awkward or uncomfortable you are denying someone else the opportunity to contribute to your ongoing growth and development. You are denying them the opportunity to be kind or to show their appreciation. That may have been important to them.

You do not have to feel controlled by others’ opinions. You do not need to seek them out. Rather, you simply need to develop the habit of being gracious in your acceptance of the feedback you are given.

This is another building block in our journey to living whole and fulfilling lives. Being unwilling to accept positive feedback from our environment discounts a portion of the information we have to form our self image.


Marjorie Wharton is a trainer, facilitator and coach who works with individuals and organizations to help them improve their performance.  She is based at the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business in Barbados. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.  For more of her writing visit https://marjoriewharton.live

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.