Isn’t it nice when we get a compliment? It can give us a boost, somebody’s noticed us or noticed what we’ve done. A compliment is an expression of admiration, respect or approval and typically it leaves us feeling valued. However, my eyes were recently opened to a completely different way of thinking about this.


Ignore All Adjectives

I passed on to a friend some praise that someone else had said about them. My friend gave a completely unexpected reply, she said ‘I am ignoring that, I ignore all adjectives.’ Wow, I had to know more, what did she mean ‘ignoring all adjectives,’ how does one even do that? She said for the last year she has been ignoring all adjectives that she hears about herself, the good ones and the bad ones and it has been really liberating.

What an interesting concept. While receiving compliments is rewarding in the short term, it is only one person’s opinion and only their opinion at that particular time. On another day or another occasion they may say something completely different about us. They may no longer be pleased with what we are doing as it doesn’t fit with their expectation. On top of that we have to consider all the different people we come into contact with, some will show praise or respect in some way, some will be neutral and others will convey their disappointment.


Take Control

If we react to everyone’s fluctuating opinion of us, we can be on an emotional rollercoaster, our mood rising with the compliments and falling with the complaints. However, by disassociating ourselves from the adjectives people use to describe us, or describe what we do, it can give us the freedom to take control of the situation, to respond to it rather than reacting to it. It also allows us to keep a growth mindset and keep trying challenging tasks because we are not scared of what people will say if we fail. We know that failing is very informative and is a crucial component in the process of learning.



Ignoring the adjectives people use to describe us is also an act of self-compassion. We are not beating ourselves up if someone is less than satisfied with what we have done. We are taking control of the situation because we have consciously made the choice that our self-worth isn’t contingent on someone else’s opinion.



By ignoring the adjectives people use to describe us, it can also help us to keep a sense of humility. When things are going well and we are riding high, we can get caught up in the wave of our own success. While this may be enjoyable, we know it won’t last forever as we will eventually get to a task that tests the boundaries of our experience and knowledge. Ignoring the adjectives helps to keep our feet on the ground. It means that when we come off the success wave, we are not thrown by this change in state. Once again we are in control of our response.

Well I’m going to start to put this into practice and see what effect it has on me. Sure I’ll miss the compliments, but do I really need them.

Why don’t you try it out too? Let me know how you get on with it.

Read more about Bryony Shaw and her other articles HERE


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