When we get reinforcement from others, most of us routinely discount and invalidate the compliments. The paradox is that we prevent the very thing we want.
Dr. Mitchell Perry


Most of us continually have trouble accepting compliments. We often discount, side-step, minimize, or invalidate a reinforcing remark whenever we receive one.
For example, someone says to you, “Gee, you handled that really well.” And you will respond with something like, “I could have done better and, with my luck, I don’t think it will turn out well.” Notice how routinely this sounds like you:

  •  “It really wasn’t that good.”
  • “It still had so many mistakes in it.”
  • “I didn’t prepare enough.”
  • “I need to practice more.”
  • “But I am still so fat.”
  • “It’s not at all what I wanted.”
  • “Don’t get excited; I am sure I will mess it up next time.”
  • “It still needs so much more work.”
  • “But there is so much more that needs to be done.”
  • “There is so much still wrong with it.”
  • “I could have done so much better.”
  • “I was lucky… it was a fluke.”


There is a big difference between what you think you are doing and what is actually happening every time you discount or invalidate a compliment.

Remember: People will treat you the way you teach them to treat you!

Notice that every time you discount any compliment given to you, you are actually telling the other person they are wrong and disallowed to be impressed with you. Each of your self-discounts tells the sender that they have bad judgment.

They will then feel put-down and unhappy being told that they are wrong to have an inaccurate opinion of you. Consequently, they will quit giving you compliments or any reinforcing remarks.
Then you will say to yourself, “Does anybody like me or think I am any good?”

Now think to yourself…
“Ah ha! I may have to conclude that I AM ROUTINELY PREVENTING THE VERY THING I WANT! I am teaching people around me to feel bad and wrong about their being impressed with me, therefore, they will stop saying anything nice to me. I have proven my worst fear!”

You are insuring that you will be denied any compliments and reinforcement. You will remain emotionally malnourished. And, you did it to yourself! You unknowingly confirmed your worst fear that you are inadequate. You brilliantly and unconsciously achieved that famous self-fulfilling prophecy!

You have been so afraid of being insufficient and inadequate, you prevented anybody from thinking you are adequate. HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT? INSANE!

So what to do?

Consider the following three options on how you can receive compliments:

  1. DISCOUNT – You already know how to do this. You may have been doing this most of your life because you believed that garbage you were taught in elementary school, you know, the ridiculous nonsense that said you were always supposed to be meek, mild, self-effacing, and modest all the time… that if you for a moment were to feel good about yourself, then you certainly were going to be considered:
    • Conceited
    • Arrogant
    • Egocentric
    • Full of yourself
    • Boastful
    • Pompous
    • And worst of all — PROUD OF YOURSELF!

You became so concerned about all the above that you erroneously concluded that if you accepted a compliment that you were now falling into the canyon of conceit! How insane is that? On top of that, over the years you likely started operating more from weakness and fear… which made you always hostage to how others thought of you. Their opinion / care / regard / approval of you often became so important that you lived in ongoing fear that they would disapprove and you would be forever inadequate… so you proved your fear. You disallowed them to feel good about you. You habitually discounted and invalidated their compliments and reinforcement. And, they quit telling you anything nice about you!

So, if you like, you can keep discounting compliments and stay right where you are — staying in weakness, remaining emotionally malnourished, and proving your fear.  

     2.  ACCEPT – So here is a little spoonful of common sense… simply ACCEPT THE COMPLIMENT! LET PEOPLE BE IMPRESSED WITH YOU. Decide to give them permission to think the way they think about you.
Note: If you want, you can still be unimpressed with yourself. You can still delude yourself to think that if you have impossible expectations of yourself and continue to fail to measure up, then you are giving yourself more fuel to achieve more. You can still be disappointed that you failed to do better. You can certainly maintain the belief that at the end of the day you will remain profoundly sub-standard and defective.
On the other hand, simply let them be enamored with you with whatever you did or said. Decide to be gracious and mannerly. Simply say, “Thank you.” You might get out of control at this point and add, “I appreciate that.” When you do this, you are simply intimating the following to the sender, “Thank you for thinking the way you think.”
At first you will likely feel awkward by simply accepting the compliment and saying, “Thank you.” Decide to do it anyway and keep saying it. Over time you will notice it gets easier, and then people will be encouraged to give you more compliments and offer more reinforcement. You have now given them permission to feel good about complimenting you, and you will learn how to accept the reinforcement.
I highly recommend that you begin to practice ACCEPT first, for quite a while. It is important to get comfortable with this habit since you have likely been discounting the compliments for many years. 
     3.   HARVEST – This is a form of saying, “Thank you; tell me more.” You might find this is initially going to appear prohibitive or unthinkable. You may get quite uncomfortable with the idea that you could ask for more. On the other hand, you also may be quite surprised that the reality of this method is quite different from what you imagine.
When people give you a compliment, they are often pleased to do so. They are likely to feel very good to tell you more. In addition, it is always nice to hear more reinforcement.
So upon receiving a compliment, consider responding with something like this:
  • “Thanks so much; I appreciate that. Help me understand more specifically what you mean.”
  • “Thanks very much; tell me more about what specifically you liked.”
  • “Thank you very much. I enjoyed doing it. What stood out the most about the presentation?” (They will tell you more and you can say, “Thanks very much” again.)

The surprising thing is that when you HARVEST, people will be very likely to give you more, they will be happy to do so and you get fed. Everyone wins!
People need to be fed… including you. Remember, everyone’s biggest need that has to be met is to feel important. So if you like reinforcement, and nearly everyone does, LET PEOPLE BE PLEASED WITH YOU!

So: Decide to replace your DISCOUNT habit with a new habit — ACCEPT.

Start by practicing saying, “Thank you” when you get a compliment. You will be telling them they are allowed to be impressed with you.

They will reinforce you more because you are teaching them that it is okay for them to do so. They will feel good about the process and so will you. They will feel important, and so will you.

Over time, you will get more comfortable with receiving compliments and perhaps even begin to believe you might deserve them!

And you will get fed.

It’s common sense… and common sense is very uncommon!

Today’s Tickle

Children Writing About the Ocean


  • This is a picture of an octopus. It has eight testicles.  (Kelly, age 6)
  • Oysters’ balls are called pearls.  (Jerry, age 6)
  • If you are surrounded by ocean, you are an island.  If you don’t have ocean all round you, you are incontinent. (Mike, age 7)
  • Sharks are ugly and mean and have big teeth, just like Emily Richardson.  She’s not my friend any more.  (Kylie, age 6)
  • A dolphin breathes through a butthole on the top of its head.  (Billy, age 9)
  • My uncle goes out in his boat with 2 other men and a woman and pots and comes back with crabs.  (Millie, age 6)
  • When ships had sails, they used to use the trade winds to cross the ocean.  Sometimes when the wind didn’t blow the sailors would whistle to make the wind come.  My brother said they would have been better off eating beans. (William, age 7)
  • Mermaids live in the ocean.  I like mermaids.  They are beautiful and I like their shiny tails but how on earth do mermaids get pregnant?  (Helen, age 6)
  • I’m not going to write about the ocean.  My baby brother is always crying, my Dad keeps yelling at my Mom, and my big sister has just got pregnant, so I can’t think what to write.  (Amy, age 6)
  • Some fish are dangerous.  Jellyfish can sting.  Electric eels can give you a shock.  They have to live in caves under the sea where I think they have to plug themselves in to chargers.  (Christopher, age 7)
  • When you go swimming in the ocean, it is very cold, and it makes my willy small.  (Kevin, age 6)
  • Divers have to be safe when they go under the water.  Divers can’t go down alone, so they have to go down on each other.  (Becky, age 8)
  • On vacation my Mom went water skiing.  She fell off when she was going very fast.  She says she won’t do it again because water fired right up her big fat ass.  (Julie, age 7)
  • The ocean is made up of water and fish.  Why the fish don’t drown I don’t know.  (Bobby, age 6)
  • My dad was a sailor on the ocean.  He knows all about the ocean.  What he doesn’t know is why he quit being a sailor and married my mom.  (James, age 7)
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