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Anxiety When Receiving Praise

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I would like to know how to stop feeling anxious when receiving praise. When I was growing up, praise I got was deflected by my mom, and then when it was just the two of us later, she’d snap at me and tell me I was conceited and trying to get everyone’s attention. She’s passed away since, but I still get huge waves of anxiety if I get noticed for anything positive. Strangely, since her death, more and more, I feel my life closing in around me with a certain sense of personal paralysis. It’s very difficult to put myself out there in the world and do the things I know I can do. The anxiety is so severe that I’ve chosen work as a pet sitter and house cleaner so I can feel safely under the radar and work alone. There’s nothing wrong with my line of work, but I recognize that my motivations are based on this anxiety, and that’s not healthy. Do you have any protocols or advice for helping me to circumvent this issue? Thanks!

Anxiety When Receiving Praise

Answered by on -

A.

Thank you for writing this. Praise can be a double-edged sword when you have received praise without criticism. What I recommend is a type of “praise inoculation.”

In the same way the introduction to a small amount of a virus can build up antibodies, you may have to take praise in small doses until you can tolerate it. The same is true for acvcepting positive feedback of any kind. Here are my recommendations:

  1. When you receive a complement or praise simply say “thank you.”
  2. Take the time to savor the feedback. This means allowing yourself to acknowledge it has been received without diminishing or putting it down.
  3. Start a positive portfolio. When you get letters of recognition or positive feedback keep a journal of it. Write it down and put it in the folder. This includes any awards, commendations, and acknowledgments you’ve received in the past. A positive portfolio gives you an opportunity to review your past accomplishments and allow yourself, little by little, to get used to receiving positive feedback.

By consciously acknowledging what’s good, you build up a tolerance for praise. You are opening up a pathway for your psyche to accept the support, kindness, and gratitude others have for you.The anxiety should diminish over time.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Anxiety When Receiving Praise

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Anxiety When Receiving Praise. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 14, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/08/13/anxiety-when-receiving-praise/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.