modern love

Are you hearing compliments?

Most relationship advice focuses on how we can be more giving, which can indeed be an important reminder in our harried lives. For some people, however, it’s receiving that’s the hard part. As best-selling self-help author Harville Hendrix writes in Receiving Love: Transform Your Relationship by Letting Yourself Be Loved:

It’s surprising how often the compliments, appreciations, and encouragements of a well-intentioned partner makes no dent in the armor of an unhappy partner.

According to Hendrix, those with a ‘receiving deficiency’ often don’t recognize their fault in their unhappiness in a relationship because their self-criticism manifests as criticism of others.

So how do we learn to hear compliments rather than brushing them off? Studies show that when people with low self-esteem were asked to ‘reframe’ compliments—by describing the meaning and significance of what was said

they felt more positively about the compliments, about themselves, and about their relationships—as positively as people with high self-esteem.

SoulPancake’s mini experiment here showed an 11% confidence boost from reframing on average, with individual results as high as 34%, and none of the subjects’ self-esteem decreasing as a result of the session. If you’re too embarrassed to ask your partner to walk through this exercise, at least bite your tongue rather than saying things like ‘What, this old thing?’ when someone gives you a compliment. And try repeating any praise you receive silently to yourself, you sexy clever reader, you…

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