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October 21, 2010

Why am I utterly incapable of accepting a compliment? 

I was at Trader Joe’s (yes I realize that most of my stories start out with those 5 words?) when a male cashier pointed to Maya and asked me, “how old is your little sister?”  Um, seriously?  And while he looked on, bewildered, I listed the reasons his compliment didn’t make any sense:

  1. I am 34 years old.
  2. Maya is 5.
  3. Even if I look 10 years younger (and I hope I do) Maya still couldn’t be my younger sister.

I’m sure he regretted opening his mouth in the first place, as do most people who throw a nice word my way.

"Maya's dress? Yeah, it's cute. My mother-in-law bought it for her. I only buy Maya Target's best."

Here is what one can expect when one attempts to be nice to me:

  1. Oh you like my shirt?  I totally picked this up at Target – it was super cheap!  $14.99, deal of the century.
  2. Seriously?  You think my hair looks good?  I only have my Japanese straightening guru to thank!  He is the only man who can tame this nightmare into submission.
  3. The lasagna was good?  I’ll give you the recipe – it’s so easy a monkey could make it!

I’ve read etiquette books!  I’ve read self-help books!  I’ve consulted classy people who know about classy stuff!  And yet I still say things like, “You like my blog?  Really?  I can’t believe people are interested in reading the random things I write on my blog.”

Starting today I will not feel arrogant for accepting a compliment.  I will not feel the need to reciprocate with a (insincere?) compliment.  I will not over share details about prices and straightening gurus and monkeys who cook Italian food.  I am going to try to say “thank you” and move on. 

Yeah, right.

76 Comments leave one →
  1. October 21, 2010 2:51 am

    Even if you were 10 years younger (which you look by the way) you so could be Maya’s sister. What did you end up saying to the guy?

    I have trouble accepting compliments too!

  2. October 21, 2010 3:16 am

    Maybe that guy was hitting on you. 😉

    Anyway not sure if it’s upbringing but a lot of folks I know aren’t big on getting compliments – including me …I always have a rebuttal. Drives my husband crazy.

  3. October 21, 2010 3:22 am

    You know me – Rebuttal is my middle name. I feel I have to DISCLAIM everything about me – because God Forbid if I say I like something or want to try something – then some people (one in particular) automatically jump on a wagon and think it’s all I am or do!

    Sorry that’s convuluted, by stalker is still around and I wish she’d live her own life already – jeez :(.

    Meanwhile – YOU should take all the compliments you get because you DESERVE them – you do look 24 and your blog is awesome 🙂

  4. October 21, 2010 3:30 am

    Hahaha I’m the same way, especially with clothes. ‘Oh, you like my dress? I got it secondhand!’

    Why, oh why, can’t I just say thank you?

  5. October 21, 2010 4:04 am

    I used to have so much trouble with this! Then I thought of how I go a little crazy when my best friend keeps putting herself down and belittling my compliments. I know she’s a rockstar! When I feel the urge to negate someone’s kind words I think of her and just smile instead. Sometimes I can’t get the words “thank you” out, so smiling is easier.

  6. October 21, 2010 4:10 am

    I think it may be more efficient for people like us to build an apartment OVER a Trader Joe’s and just reside there. It’d save gas money and time. Just a thought.

    I’m horrible and accepting compliments and sometimes think I do the same in making people feel stupid for attempting to give me one. If they like my shirt or something, I’m always like, “Oh my gosh, this thing? Seriously? Dude- I picked it up at Target on the clearance rack… I never buy a thing unless it’s on sale. Seriously, I don’t even think it’s that great of quality. But you like it? Um… thanks!”

  7. October 21, 2010 4:16 am

    I’m like that too. It feels odd to just say “thanks,” as if I’m admitting I’m awesome, which is entirely untrue. My husband hates it when he says “You’re pretty” and I say “Seriously? Look at my hair today. And this pimple on my face is disgusting. And I’m wearing pajama pants…”

  8. October 21, 2010 4:32 am

    Haha, I agree with Di– it sounds like he was hitting on you 🙂

    I’m the same way with compliments. Sad as it is, I think a LOT of women are!

  9. October 21, 2010 4:37 am

    I’m EXACTLY the same. It’s pretty impossible for me to take a compliment.

    “You think I look like I lost weight? No actually I’m 2.4lbs heavier than the last time you saw me. Maybe it’s this t-shirt that’s slimming. I know it’s not very stylish but I got it on sale for $10.”

  10. October 21, 2010 4:37 am

    OMFG. I am the EXACT same way!!! My fiance gets mad at me all the time…when people “compliment” me on looking healthy I’m always like “I’M BLOATED TODAY”…we SHOULD accept compliments!! Throw away the self hate!! And that dress? Please send me Maya’s used clothes…I’m sure we are the same size.

  11. October 21, 2010 4:55 am

    I’m sure you’ll be hearing this a lot, but I too am the same way. I know I drive people nuts with it, but it really is a hard habbit to kick, lol! And by the way, Maya’s dress is pretty adorable…and your hair does look fantastic! 😉

  12. October 21, 2010 5:09 am

    Agreed! Accepting a compliment shouldn’t be so awkward but I am way more comforting downplaying my awesomeness as well 😉 PS – I am often told that I look really young for my age that I will really appreciate that in 10 years… you might feel the same about being Maya’s older sis when she is a 20 yr old bombshell!

  13. October 21, 2010 5:11 am

    Okay. Let’s start slow and build up to it.

    Ameena, I admire your eye for a bargain.

    Now you say “thank you” and next time I’ll try telling you I like your hair.

    With my help, this habit will be kicked in about 20,000 comments.

    • October 22, 2010 12:38 pm

      Thank you…. I wouldn’t mind 20,000 comments though. 🙂

  14. October 21, 2010 5:12 am

    I have problems with compliments too…when I get one I feel the urge to immediately gush a similar compliment to the compliment giver, and I often act on that urge.

  15. October 21, 2010 5:41 am

    Lol sometimes I have hard time accepting complements as well…like when someone said “you look nice today” and I’d respond something like “so I didn’t look nice yesterdays and the day before??”

    And I wonder how did you respond to the cashier in the end?

    • October 22, 2010 2:17 pm

      I just kept saying…”You have got to be kidding me…on what planet could I be her sister??” Poor guy.

  16. October 21, 2010 6:16 am

    Not big on confrontation or compliments!? Well, that makes you human. I get nervous when people read my work, and the best I could ever say is a simple ‘thanks’ as a response. Usually I just start rambling about why I wrote what I wrote, and that way I avoid accepting the compliment. With any regular compliment, I tend to make a joke about it somehow. I think people who have trouble accepting compliments are more modest, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

  17. October 21, 2010 6:44 am

    I have a hard time accepting compliments as well. And you honestly do look like you could be her sister in that picture (love the non-target dress by the way)! How funny about Trader Joes. That’s pretty much how I start off most of my conversations as well. 🙂

  18. October 21, 2010 6:56 am

    I do the same thing!

    “You look great, have you been working out more?”

    “Yeah, but I’m still a lard@ss” haha

  19. October 21, 2010 6:56 am

    I KNOW,….I KNOW.
    I’m getting better but when I get compliments I get all suspicous (sp) like…”What do you want from me?”

    if it comes from a Man I run the other direction. I know what HE wants.


    I am SOOOOOOOO distrustful. (but considering my past, it’s warrented).

    btw.. I was 17 when MY little sister was born and 20 when my littlest brother was born.

    Everyone asked me if she was my daughter ?

    AND ONCE when I was that age still, I was babysitting 2 kids…5 and 3 and the Mom needed me to grab a few things at the store, so off we went. When the bagger (who I went to HS with ) said…YOU HAVE KIDS??? I said NO, I am just babysitting…the 3 year old started calling me MAMA.


    no wonder I never got asked out!
    I was a teen age tramp!

    anyways…YOU DO look 10 years younger, you ARE beautiful and I DO love reading your blog. you have a killer sence of humor and I love it~

    Nowadays, when people see me with JJ and I say I also have a Teenager and I’ve been at my job 20 years they drop their coffee and start adding it up in thier head.

    makes my day!
    so long as they don’ t pay me a compliment…I’m good!


    • October 23, 2010 6:47 pm

      Cindy – you are so kind and generous with your compliments. I’m going to practice here…. Thank you.

  20. October 21, 2010 6:59 am

    OH, and last year when I was at the store with my toddler and husband the checker asked ME if I was the nanny!

    so help me GOD people.

    I NEVER go thru her line anymore.

    I cried all night over that one!


  21. October 21, 2010 7:13 am

    Hey Ameena! My Cauldron Boy says that I don’t know how to accept a compliment either. So I’m going to be like and just nicely say ‘thank you very much’, smile, and move on…Yeah!
    Oh, and that was a pretty good compliment you got too;)

  22. Leah @ Why Deprive? permalink
    October 21, 2010 7:26 am

    haha I cant take compliments either. And I do the EXACT same thing when people compliment my clothes! Someone says they like my jeans, I cant say thank you I say “yah . . . $19.99”

  23. October 21, 2010 7:27 am

    i have the hardest time taking compliments too! but you are stunning and gorgeous and easily look like you’re in your 20s. i hope that i look that good when i’m your age (and i’m acutely aware that 34 isn’t old buttttttt i’m in my 20s and want to stay here forever right now ahahah!)

  24. October 21, 2010 7:40 am

    Well, you do look quite young so you shouldn’t be so perplexed by the cashier’s compliment! Maybe you were a teen mom–kidding, of course 😉

    I’m the exact same way, I like to play anything down. I don’t want to sound like that arrogant person thinking they are better than everyone else. I know politely saying, “thank you” doesn’t make one arrogant. Issues-hehe.

    Maya looks super cute!

  25. October 21, 2010 7:43 am

    I don’t know anybody that handles compliments well. What i need to learn is how to handle criticism.
    Can your mother in law buy me a dress???

  26. October 21, 2010 7:51 am

    I used to have the same problem. Then i realized to someone else, it might look like I was just fishing for more compliments, so I’ve learned to just smile and say thank you.
    *kisses* HH

  27. October 21, 2010 8:52 am

    I don’t think I can that compliments. I buy dress in sale too

  28. October 21, 2010 9:00 am

    I don’t take compliments well either. Someone gives me a compliment and I insult myself even more. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I love complimenting people, but can’t handle be complimented….go figure.

    Love Maya’s dress! It’s super cute! 90% of my kiddies’ clothes are hand me downs. And when I do fork out the money, you know there’s a big sale somewhere.

    Lastly, I seriously would believe you were twenty something. Sorry to make you feel all awkward 😉 but girl, you look dang good for 34!

  29. October 21, 2010 9:34 am

    I feel like that too sometimes but I have been much better at those two simple words lately! 🙂 And you are beautiful!

  30. Leslie permalink
    October 21, 2010 9:41 am

    I was like this, too, Ameena, bringing my considerable oratorical skills into logically eviscerating any poor sap who would actually say something kind to me (you badbadbad person, being nice!), thinking in a befuddled manner that I was being humble. Then I read an article about how dealing ungraciously with a compliment (ungraciously! try “miserably”) punishes the complimenter rather than makes the recipient humble. If we want a kinder, gentler, more civilized world, we could start with more “thank you!” instead of “are you blind?”

  31. sana permalink
    October 21, 2010 2:31 pm

    a (male) friend of mine told me recently that women in general have a problem. They can’t accept compliments. I’ve been working on fixing this problem. Can’t take criticism or compliments. drives my husband crazy. hehe
    yes amina, you do look 10 years younger than you are. lucky girl.
    own it.
    rock it.

    • sana permalink
      October 21, 2010 2:34 pm

      ps: you must be having a hard time handling all the compliments issuing forth from this post!
      hehe. oh the ironies of life

  32. October 21, 2010 2:32 pm

    I hear where you’re coming from, for some reason I do this too. Although I do have to say two things: You DO look younger than stated age, and I LOVE your hair and would love more info on that Japanese straightening magic to tame my frizzy mess.

    Oh and…I do LOVE your blog and your writing 🙂 And, I’m being sincere 🙂

    I think I just heard you whisper “Thank You” 🙂 You’re welcome!

    • October 23, 2010 6:59 pm

      Japanese straightening changed my life! Honestly, it has eliminated 99% of my frizz and I don’t even have to blow dry my hair anymore. It is life changing. And yes, you did hear me whisper a thank you for your very kind comment Melissa!

  33. October 21, 2010 2:32 pm

    I have a hard time with compliments too. Everyone keeps telling me I look great, but sometimes I think that they are saying it out of sympathy… like they feel obligated to since I’m pregnant? Not sure if that makes sense?? Anyway, I really need to just accept them and not roll my eyes in disbelief.

  34. October 21, 2010 2:37 pm

    I’m the same way with compliments. I have such a hard time taking them!

  35. October 21, 2010 3:21 pm

    So, here’s the deal Ameena. Your beautiful & you look fantastic & your hair is great & I love reading your blog…… got it!!!???
    But on a quieter note.., you wouldn’t be you if you acted any other way & we all wouldn’t love you so much… because… you’d be different.
    So… just be you OK
    End of lesson 😉

    • October 23, 2010 6:55 pm

      Thank you Anna!! This was quite a compliment. 🙂

  36. October 21, 2010 4:41 pm

    I’ve noticed that a lot of women, myself included, have difficulty accepting compliments. I think we’re culturally ingrained to up the ante on our humility, and are rarely allowed to “own” a compliment. I’ve often wondered what the great fear is – might we, gasp, exhibit confidence? Self-worth? I find it almost impossible to take a compliment in without throwing back a (usually sarcastic) qualifier or modifying statement.

  37. October 21, 2010 5:55 pm

    i’d believe you were maya’s sister. seriously! you’re only a year older than me and people think i’m still a kid. smile and say “thank you” ameena.

  38. October 21, 2010 6:29 pm

    well you are such a beauty…so ya know…that compliment doesn’t surprise me! But I definitely feel you on accepting compliments. It can be quite a hard thing to do…I too turn into my own cynic at times.

    p.s. I can’t wait to meet you when I get out to LA!

  39. October 21, 2010 6:36 pm

    When someone gives me a compliment, I look at them as if I’ve just tried to eat a bag of cotton balls. And yes, I rock the self-depreciating “This is the cheapest shirt that’s ever been sold,” line.

  40. October 21, 2010 7:06 pm

    I’m all too familiar with saying “Thanks, it was only $10!” I need to learn how to simply say “thank you” myself! I don’t think anyone cares how much my shoes cost, anyways.

  41. October 21, 2010 7:26 pm

    My mom got that all the time when I was little…she was just as beautiful as you are! And I’m bad at accepting compliments too. We’ll both work on it!

  42. October 21, 2010 8:54 pm

    Haha, Trader Joe’s employees always have interesting things to say. You could easily pass for younger twenties…so I guess Maya could be your way, way younger sister. I guess he just didn’t think you seemed like a mom. You don’t really have that “mom-ness” to you. You seem too hip or something. Ha. In any case, I’m better than I used to be at accepting compliments, though there are some that I am categorically opposed to, like, “You have such pretty hair.” No, I don’t. It’s just tamed frizz.

  43. October 22, 2010 2:51 am

    I am so super incompetent at accepting compliments as well. I think I am just physically incapable of saying thank you. Seriously.

    You and maya could totally look like sisters. Don’t even doubt.

  44. October 22, 2010 9:13 am

    oh i so hear you! i think as women in general we kind of suck at this skill. and that’s what it is. i’ll vow with you to work on it. because let’s just face it, i need the practice, too! btw, you rock! just take the compliment and step away from the computer! 🙂

  45. Food Loving Polar Bear permalink
    October 22, 2010 9:19 am

    I have trouble accepting compliments too but I’m getting better at it. We all should try to appreciate them instead of brushing them off, it DOES feel nice to hear someone say something nice about you 🙂

  46. 1lifeabundant permalink
    October 22, 2010 10:03 am

    I too have a hard time accepting compliments–I sound just like you! Funny thing is: saying “thank you” is easier, but so hard at the same time.

  47. October 22, 2010 10:46 am

    It sounds like that TJ’s cashier was hitting on you 😉

    I guess we’re all masters of the self-deprecating “thank you” – I definitely pull out #1 all the time, being aided by the fact that I always remember the cost of everything I buy down to the last penny. “Oh, you like my jacket? I got it in China – $5!” <– Yes, I actually said that.

    (Also, you definitely don't look like you're 34! Really! I hope I can stay as young as you over the years 🙂 )

  48. October 22, 2010 1:52 pm

    you are so pretty so it’s only natural to get compliments like that. p.s i really love maya’s’s so cute!

  49. October 22, 2010 3:13 pm

    your 3 points sound EXACTLY like me. (lol…why do i have to quote the price when someone compliments my clothing???) my fourth strategy is to quickly change the subject. (“oh you like my lasagna? so how are the Mets doing this year?…”)

  50. October 23, 2010 6:25 am

    Self esteem is completely about receiving VALID compliments…those that hit us in the middle and give us a sense of worthiness…that we belong and somehow matter.
    What sort of compliments really make me feel good is when I make others feel good….
    “To know even one life has breathed easier because I have lived.”

  51. October 23, 2010 2:03 pm

    OH, Ameena. Compliments are good. It’s make you feel good. hehehe… People used to think my mom and I were sisters. We both kind of just laugh at it for a moment. Before the other person realizes that we aren’t. It’s amusing actually.

  52. October 23, 2010 6:09 pm

    I totally understand what you mean. I always sort of undercut any compliments I might get because I don’t want to seem ungrateful or arrogant. So, you’re not alone with that!

  53. October 23, 2010 10:07 pm

    Oh my goodness. I can SO RELATE to this. I’ve been working on it for years but it’s still hard to simply say “thank you”.

    It was nice meeting you today. I wish we could have chatted more. Next time!! 🙂

  54. squigglefloey permalink
    October 23, 2010 10:47 pm

    This is hilarious! haha. Maybe he was hitting on you?!

  55. Kath (Eating for Living) permalink
    October 24, 2010 1:14 pm

    YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL! Really, actually, absolutely. Now take this compliment, and be fine with it.

  56. October 24, 2010 9:05 pm

    Your hilarious! I thought I was queen of being blunt!
    My pet peeve that shouldn’t be…. ” Wow!!! You look good for having 4 kids!” Ummmm, thanks, I guess.
    thanks for stopping by my humble foodie blog! Glad to meet you, I really do look forward to reading more of your thoughts 😉

  57. October 24, 2010 9:20 pm

    I hear you but it’s a skill all women must learn! Coincidentally, all my stories begin at TJs too!

  58. October 24, 2010 10:05 pm

    This post describes me to a T! I’ve also been told that I don’t take compliments very well. But hey, I love Target too, and I never hesitate to say when I’m wearing something from there. 🙂

    Thanks for dropping by my site. Now I’ve got you to follow. 🙂

  59. October 25, 2010 4:58 pm

    I used to be OK with compliments and then I ‘learned’ to deflect them from a girlfriend of mine. It wasn’t nice at all. If you said something to her like “your hair is so pretty today” she’d reply NO IT”S NOT! Egads. It rubbed off on me for a while then I stopped that- it was so confrontational!

    You deserve all the compliments you get!

  60. October 26, 2010 11:31 am

    You could definitely pass for 10yr younger even more (sorry for the compliment:)

  61. October 27, 2010 4:33 pm

    I am sometimes guilty of that, and I almost always have to tell people when I got something on sale. Touche. I’ll try to go with “Thank you” from now on, not “thank you, and can you believe it was 80% off?”

  62. October 27, 2010 7:32 pm

    I have a little brother who’s 20 years younger than me. I wish people did NOT think I was his mom!

  63. October 28, 2010 9:52 pm

    The only reason my hair is straight is also due to a strict chemical straightening regimen every 6 months. That literally was the only reason I felt comfortable posting my picture up on a restaurant review blog — I figured if it ever gets to the point where restaurant owners learn to look for me, I’ll just stop straightening it and I’ll be totally incognito again!

    • October 31, 2010 9:38 am

      Hi Sree – where do you get your hair straightened? I’ve been going to the same Japanese salon in Torrance for 7 years but I’m always on the lookout for something closer… Ameena

      • October 31, 2010 11:19 am

        Hi Ameena – I do Chi Straightening (it’s similar to Japanese straightening, but it’s supposed to be healthier for your hair — no ammonia) at AR Salon in Hermosa Beach. The hairstylist/co-owner Rodilyn does it for me about every 6 months.

  64. October 30, 2010 6:12 pm

    I am the exact same way! I can never just accept a compliment. The other day the hubby said I looked nice and I proceeded to tell him a big long story about how my shirt was old and the neck stretched out but I wore it bc I thought I might have to nurse Bubby in the Ergo while walking around the Halloween party. Next time I’ll say thanks.

    You do look great!

  65. November 5, 2010 4:55 pm

    i am the same way with compliments…it’s like i a half accept them. 🙂

  66. January 24, 2011 9:22 pm

    Compliments are tough! My partner for some exercises in bootcamp today complimented my engagement ring and I was like “uh… yea.” So embarassing! I’m sure she thought I was a weirdo.

  67. September 24, 2011 10:50 am

    this is too funny. i burst out laughing when you said you are 34 and maya is 5. my brother and i are 13 years apart and many thought i was his kid. 🙂 take it as a compliment!!!!!

    • September 24, 2011 7:37 pm

      I am getting better at taking compliments. It’s a SLOW process…but I’m learning to simply say “thank you.” 🙂

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