Praise and compliments often feel very uncomfortable, even though it simultaneously feels good to be acknowledged.
This page is a stub, created on 2021-05-15 (last updated on 2021-07-12). Its contents are notes on the issues and angles I want to address about this topic.
- I think it relates to my desire to have clear motives for achievement/accomplishments/growth: I have to be doing it for my own internally motivated reasons, not for external validation. Praise and compliments feel good in a way, and that muddles my experience of why I did/accomplished/achieved the thing. And then that feels uncomfortable.
- It's especially uncomfortable to be praised or admired for something that was not a function of my own effort, like having a handsome face. And it's even worse to be praised or admired for something that's not even true (imagine someone thought I had achieved a thing I hadn't).
- I don't think it's related to self-worth à la the traditional narrative, that a person might feel discomfort with compliments because they don't feel worthy of them. I do feel worthy of them, but I don't think they need to be articulated. If it's self-esteem, then it's my job to know these things about myself, not for others to offer validation.
- I experience others' (accurate) compliments as reflecting their good judgment, which allows me to judge them favorably. And it's not that I judge them favorably because they judged me favorably (ie, just because that feels nice), but because it reflects their having good, objective judgment. I joke that when someone compliments me, they're bragging about their good judgment.
- This all seems incredibly narcissistic/vain (not in the sense of narcissistic personality disorder), but in a more first-handed than second-handed way. It's the opposite of what people expect of narcissism (using the term sloppily, as it often is in our culture), since my disposition is in the opposite direction of "narcissists'" typical attention-seeking.
- This is related to why I would promiscuously share data about myself, including "the truth of my shirtlessness", but I would not maintain an Instagram account with the intent of getting followers, likes, etc. The exhibitionism of that, even when legitimate marketing (eg, if I were to be a personal trainer), makes my skin crawl. While it feels good to get the attention of people whose attention I specifically might want, anonymous, general attention is extremely uncomfortable.
- the symmetry of naturally not offering praise or compliments, either
- On my end, it often feels performative and as though it comes across as inauthentic, even if I do sincerely mean the compliment.
- related to Words of Affirmation being my least strong Love Language
- praising effort versus results, aligned with having a growth mindset