“Oh, but I’m not even a runner!”

Last week I had the opportunity to check out the new treadmill gym in the North End called MyStryde, as well as some new New Balance gear. Without getting much into the class (I’m posting about it tomorrow!), I will say that it was very challenging. While I run at least once or twice a week (logging 3-4 miles each run normally), I’ve never considered myself a “runner”. Sure, I like to go out and run and don’t even mind running on the treadmill that much, but I’m always so quick to say “I’m not a runner” when I talk about running.


After class, though, a guy tapped me on the shoulder and goes “You’re really fast! I was trying to keep up with you the whole class, but could never quite catch up!” My reaction? “really? That’s funny because I’m not even a runner!”

And it got me to thinking, why are we so quick to dismiss a compliment? Why are we so quick to downplay whatever it is about ourselves that someone is complimenting? Why can’t we just smile and say “thank you” and accept the compliment, rather than make up excuses why it isn’t/we aren’t worth the compliment?Think about these exchanges:

  • “Wow I love that bag!”…  “oh this bag? It’s SO old!”
  • “You’re a fast runner!”… “I’m not really that fast, I was just having a good day!”
  • “Your hair looks great today!”… “ugh no, I don’t like my hair! I wish I had hair like yours”
  • “That email you wrote was really well-written”… “Nah, I thought I jumbled my words and wasn’t as concise as I wanted to be”

… The list could go on and on. My guess is that all of you know exactly what I’m talking about, and the question for me today comes back to,  Why is it so hard for us to just say thank you? Or to own your run or your bag or your hair or your outfit? Personally, I think it has to do with not wanting to seem “better” than others or not wanting to seem satisfied with where you are or what you’ve done. We love to complain about not having our sh*t together, right? We love to talk about how busy we are, how we suck at working out, how we hate our hair or our outfits. But what’s funny is when we say things like this, it usually results in someone continuing their praise or compliment, right? “oh I know! You are SO busy. I don’t know how you do it” or “No way. Your hair really does look great today” or “I always think your emails are really well written”.

Here’s another thought… I talked about this with RM and he had a slightly different take on the “why” behind compliment dismissals. He told me that this same topic was covered in a meditation course that he attended last year and that they  talked about how, as minor as we think it is to shut down a compliment, it’s a negative behavior and that we could breed more general happiness in our lives by approaching these situations with more positivity: “Thank you! I really love this bag”.  I just tried it and genuinely felt happier by accepting a pretend compliment than I did when I downplayed it.

At the end of the day- we are what we create and believe for ourselves. Want to be a runner? Be one! Love your hair? Tell people! Proud of a work accomplishment? Share the news. Accept compliments, love yourself and stop putting yourself down so much- I promise you’ll have a much brighter outlook on everything 🙂

I’d love to hear from you guys, though! What do you think is the reason why we dismiss compliments and naturally lead to this type of response? Why do you have a hard time accepting a compliment (if you do)?


8 thoughts on ““Oh, but I’m not even a runner!”

  1. Aunt Sue says:

    Monique, I think this is mostly a gender thing…women do this way more often than men! Also some cultures and belief systems place an EXTREMELY high value on humility and self deprecation, so it’s a socialization thing. An easy solution it is to think of it this way: If i give you a compliment I’m expressing my sincere opinion. If you blow it off, you are discounting or rejecting my opinion and appreciation. Now that’s not very nice, is it? Just say “thank you.”

    • Burpees to Bubbly says:

      Aunt Sue, that’s such a good point that I didnt even think of!! But you’re totally right- in a lot of cultures they could be offended by dismissing a compliment. What a great way to look at it- I’m working on the “thank you” thing more 🙂

  2. Jess says:

    You’re absolutely right! I never noticed this before and it’s so true. I’ll try the “thank you” next time. Thanks for writing about it!!

  3. Suzanne Gagnon says:

    Hi Nick, I loved Aunt Sue’s comment–it’s so true! I’m guilty of this, but never thought of it as rejecting someone’s opinion. I will definitely think of this next time I receive a compliment! Mom

  4. sdorsay (itrainthereforeieat) says:

    I’ve actually made a conscious effort over the past year or so to get “better” at accepting compliments. It’s hard! I ALWAYS used to give the types of responses you described, essentially variations of the cliche “Oh, this old thing?”. Now I really make an effort to just smile and say thanks (even on days when I don’t quite agree with the complimenter). It helps me to see a positive side if I’m having a bad day, and helps me to recognize positive things about myself that I normally wouldn’t take the time to notice. Once you start doing it, you realize how good it feels to let yourself be complimented!

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