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The Compliment Complex.

I love throwing out compliments left and right. It's just something I've always done and it brings me joy to see people light up when you brag on them. It's just fun.

I, too, love getting compliments (I mean, who doesn't?), but I have great trouble receiving them. I never realized my problem until a sweet friend pointed it out to me.

"You look pretty today", she said as she hugged me.

Without thinking I responded, "YOU look pretty. That dress is amazing. And you smell SO good."

She took me by the shoulders and said, "Whitney...just TAKE the compliment."


She went on to tell me that I always brush off my compliments and start in on complimenting the person who first offered the compliment.

It was the first time I realized that I DO do this and I can't stop.

I have no idea why it's so hard for me to just say "thank you" and go on with our conversation. It has become especially difficult since having Levi. Anytime someone tells me how well behaved he is or if he does something super sweet or intelligent, it's like I make excuses for it.

For example:

Friend: "He is just the best little boy - sitting so quiet and being so good."

Me: "Oh, you should have seen him the other day in this boutique I was in. He was running around like a wild child!" .... instead of saying "thank you" and moving on.

Friend: "How do you get him to eat his veggies so well? Look at him!"

Me: "Oh, sometimes he chunks them on the floor and smears them on his face. Today he must be real hungry!" .... When in fact, Levi ALWAYS eats his veggies and it's like I try to pretend that he doesn't so the other friend doesn't feel bad. Why do I not just accept the compliment?

I am extremely proud of the child that Levi is and is becoming, and I sing his praises all day, every day. It's when OTHER people sing his praises to ME that I feel embarrassed. I have witnessed a lot of moms who try to one-up other moms when it comes to their children and that absolutely enrages me. I guess I am overly aware of trying NOT to be that person that I can't even accept a compliment on his behalf (or mine) without feeling awkward.

I'm a nut!

(And I must say, this does not include compliments from Husby or other family. Those are easy to take.) :)

I've been working on this little problem of mine and I must say, it is h-a-r-d. It's a natural response for me to respond to a compliment with a compliment and I don't think that's a bad thing. But for myself, I need to graciously accept the compliments that come my way and appreciate them as my own. I need to let people pat me on the back without feeling like I need to dismiss it and pat THEIR backs instead.

Anyone else have this problem?
I am a modern day homemaker with a passion for family, cooking, celebrating, decorating, travel, and memory making! The Lord has blessed me with the desires of my heart in my husband and our two sons. We recently built our dream home and cultivating a loving and happy haven for my family is where I find so much joy.


  1. You're not a nut - it IS hard! A lot of times our inclination when someone compliments us is to downplay it - being told our dress is cute leads to "Oh, this old thing? It was on clearance for $5 at Target!" I too realized a few years ago that I was doing this and I've really been working hard to stop and accept the compliment.

    I totally get what you're saying about braggy moms too - sometimes you just wanna smack them! LOL!

  2. I completely understand. I always used to return compliments with compliments. I think it is natural to feel slightly embarrassed when you receive a compliment and feel the need to reciprocate.

    A couple of years ago I made a conscious effort to start saying "thank you" instead. It was hard at first but now I don't think twice about it (does that make me a bad person??!).

    In regards to Levi, I guess you are just being a modest mom. My mom definitely underplays our achievements to other people. It never really bothered me as long as I knew how proud of me she really was.

  3. Oh my word, here's how I struggle with that . . .someone will compliment me on something I'm wearing and I HAVE to tell them how much on sale it was. "Aw, I love your shirt." "Thanks, I got it for $2.98 on Target's clearance!" I annoy myself, but I can't seem to stop! Or, yesterday, someone complimented me on how "tiny" I am at 21 weeks pregnant and said I looked great. And I say, "Well, it's my first so I'll probably be huge before too long. I'm just lucky right now." I am AWFUL at taking a compliment!

  4. I am the SAME way, Whitney! I get so self conscious when someone compliments me. And I also downplay the compliments of Bean by making it sound like whatever he's doing is the exception to the norm, when that isn't true at all. I don't mind brushing off compliments that I receive, but I shouldn't do that for Bean. He is a good boy and when people acknowledge that, I should just say "Thank you!" Maybe I'll start working on that today...

  5. Yep. I am the same way too!
    My fiance sometimes gets really frustrated when he tries to compliment me. For example, when he says I look beautiful, I always answer "Me? You need glasses!". Or something like that.
    And I can't help it! I feel embarrassed when someone compliments me!

  6. I have a really hard time taking compliments too, its especially bad if its a sudden compliment or if we are in the middle of a conversation and someone says, "by the way I love your.." Its as if I can't take the sudden focus on me.

    I really want to go to finishing school, as CRAZY as that sounds I think they would teach you the etiquette of that stuff, so you feel prepared and won't get embarrassed.

    With everything, practice makes perfect.

  7. Yes, it's really strange! We try to downplay ourselves so that we don't seem self-centered or too perfect... I do the same thing! :)

  8. I think it's so important for a child to hear their mother accept a compliment either for herself or on their behalf. It teaches the child to accept them as well. A very wise mother pointed out to me that I do this as well, and she reminded me that I could be inadvertently teaching my children that nothing they do (or we do) is ever GOOD enough...

    You're a beautiful woman and you're doing a wonderful job with your little boy. YOU REALLY ARE. Modesty is good, but confidence and modesty can coexist :)

  9. I am the same way Whitney! I always seem to return a compliment with a compliment. It must be something women are prone to do! ;-)

  10. I didn't relize I have been doing the same thing until I read your post! People will stop me and say wow your two girls is so well behaved (bella is 16 months roxy is 6) and i am always quick to say you should have seen them an hour ago at home yelling and at each other and fighting over something.
    And i never ever will gtake a compliment for myself... Which is prob really hurtful to the person giving it.... ahhhh I think I might need to challange myself to work on this!!

  11. I'm absolutely one to downplay a compliment. That's sweet of you to always return one!

  12. Yes! So many women do this! It's so hard to just say thank you. It almost feels braggy to me to just say "thank you" and nothing else. I'm working on it though, just like you. Boy, it's tough! I wish all women, myself included, had enough self-confidence to accept a compliment graciously without feeling the need to downplay whatever we've been complimented on. Lord knows men have no problem taking a compliment! haha

  13. Compliments embarrass me too. I have done the same thing to my poor son also. Obviously he's not perfect, but he's pretty well behaved yet I always have to say something about him being a stinker. It's like I don't want to make other people feel bad. On other hand, I get kind of sick of moms who think their kids are perfect so that's probably why I do that.

  14. what a GREAT post! i struggle with accepting compliments...

    maybe it's a natural woman thing?

  15. It really is hard to accept compliments. I think as little girls we were ingrained to be so humble and modest that it affects us as adults. All it means is that we had a good upbringing. :)

    Cabin Fever in Vermont

  16. do I ever...

    I even have a hard time taking compliments from my Husband though. If he tells me I look nice when I feel pretty I can just smile and say thanks. But more commonly he tells me I look nice when I feel disheveled or gross and all I can muster is "ok" with an awkward look that seems to say "have you looked at me, are you crazy"

    I also enjoy deflecting compliments, I guess I just would rather put the attention on someone else.

    It's something I too need to work on.

  17. It's HARD for women, in general! Most of us would rather die than have people focused on us for a tiny little second. We'd rather be the one focusing on others. Human nature, I guess.

  18. This is right on, a friend and I had this exact conversation the other day. It was like some sort of amazing realization we had both had about ourselves. And you too! And all of these other people who have commented! I always end up putting myself down somehow in my reply, or putting down whatever they complimented about me or my daughter, my house, my dogs, whatever!

  19. I do exactly the same thing you was funny to read that with the compliments on your son you tell them something to the opposit. I do that EXACT same thing! Someone will tell me "you have the best behaved little baby boy" and I'll say "you should have seen him last night. He threw a total tantrum" :) I guess you and me both need to work on just saying "thank you".

  20. There is a lady in our choir who, it appears, can't ever take a compliment. I try to compliment her on a great job she did on something (she puts together a lot of our parties), and she immediately shrugs off the compliment and changes the subject or hardly takes it. It is so frustrating for me, because I am genuinely paying her a compliment, and really want her know how much I appreciate her hard work. I want to take her by the shoulders, and shake her, and say, "JUST BE GRACIOUS AND ACCEPT THE COMPLIMENT!" ha. I haven't done that.

    I have been guilty of when, receiving a compliment, announcing the good deal I got on clothing like some of the other commenters. My mom told me to quit doing that. (-:

    But you know, I do think learning how to accept compliments with grace is something of importance. I also think, more often than not, a simple "thank you" really does the trick. (-:


  21. I know exactly what you mean. With friends, I always return a compliment with a compliment. With family, I always so "oh no, that's silly."

    My Mom finally yelled at me and said "look, if I say you're pretty and you say I'm silly, you make me look like a moron for thinking you're pretty!"

    I am working on the "thank yous" for everybody. I realized it is more weird to extend the compliment by talking about the shoes and how inexpensive they were and how I've got them all grunged up from stepping in a puddle with them last week than to just move on.

    Leah @

  22. I had this problem in high school and someone finally got fed up and just yelled at me - basically saying it's rude to ignore a person's compliment because it's like ignoring what they are saying or assuming they are lying by not believing them (my response was always negative - if they said I looked nice I responded, no I don't my hair looks horrible today, etc.). My friend was so upset that I realized by not accepting compliments I might actually be offending people, so it became really easy to just say thank you. Which I still do to this day, and after my thank you I might compliment them too.

  23. I had a dream about you and D last night - you guys mowed my parent's lawn and I kept getting mad at D because he was running into my parents house with the mower. HAHA!!

    Anyway - I'm in the same boat usually..not really when it comes to Bubba's compliments, but when someone compliments me, I usually have that, "Really? You think so?" if they say I look nice or something. I try really hard with Alex though, so if someone compliments him or my parenting skills --- WOOT!

  24. This sounds JUST like me!! I, too, feel it's gotten harder to accept compliments the older I get. I am afraid that if I just say "thanks!" that it really sounds like I'm saying "yeah, I know." I would NEVER want anyone to think that! So, you are definitely not alone. You DO have the most adorable little boy though. I LOVE reading your blog! :)

  25. YES! I totally feel like I need to justify compliments with something negative. Like if someone says, "That's a nice car!" I say, "Oh, we got a really good deal. It's not that great." I never can just take it. So hard!

  26. I'm with you on this one, even though I don't have a child. It drives me crazy when people try to one up the other. I have to remind myself it's okay to except the complient every once in a while!

  27. I'm the exact same way. I have also been making a conscious effort to just say "thank you" - sometimes I feel bad but I've started getting over it. SO HARD!! Good luck :)


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