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Cultivate Self-Compassion and Compliments (and why imposter syndrome stops us doing both)

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

A common symptom of imposter syndrome is the inability to accept compliments. This can further entrench feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. We can often write it off as a fluke or change. Whilst I don’t think it is wise to feed off external validation, by batting away compliments, we strengthen the message that we don't deserve them.

Whilst many English folk find the idea of accepting praise wildly uncomfortable. It is worth practising for your well-being and to improve your relationships.

You may find it useful to begin by thinking about things which would be nice to hear or things you say to others. What is the difference between these lists, and how does each thought makes you feel? Could you practise these thoughts so that they feel less alien? Can you sing them in the shower? Or put them on your fridge? Or setting them a password? Just a simple process of training your brain to realise these words can exist in and around you can be useful to prevent some of the visceral reflexes we have when they arise. It is about creating familiarity, and with that comes a fragile first layer of safety.

And in turn, this improves our connection and communication with others. We all know what it feels like when we give someone a heartfelt compliment, and they respond by listing all of their perceived inadequacies. When we teach ourselves how to become familiar with our own wins, we make it easier to accept praise from others.

This gentle process is one step away from constantly attacking ourselves. And in many ways, it is one step closer to creating a more kind and thoughtful world. Because the less time we spend reeling off all of the ways that we are not good enough, the more time we have to create more good around us.


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