We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.
When someone offers you a compliment, regardless of what it is about, how do you respond?
Most people I come across give the same reaction, "Thank you, but ..."
Do I really need to finish that sentence? It's rampant, it's everywhere I go. The person receiving the compliment isn't really at fault though, because the other thing I see happening are the dishonest truths.
To me, the dishonest truths are the phrases told to someone to bolster their ego, to break down their defenses in order to utilize them at a later date. Whether it is telling someone they are doing a good job before telling them they have to work overtime for free; telling someone that their cooking was really tasty but then expecting them to cook every meal; or going up to a woman to say they are beautiful and intelligent in order to go home with them that night.
The reversal happens so frequently that when we know it is unlikely to come, we have the tendency to not believe the person. We do not have a fear of that darkness that is to come later, because it is being lit by the good light. Not having that darkness at the end is not a natural feeling for us. We fight it, resist it so much that we live our lives with a burden of doubt in who we are and our abilities.
Instead of focusing on the darkness at the end, what if we instead choose to believe in the light and not allow it to be extinguished?
Just because someone tells you a compliment in order to get something out of you does not mean that they told you a lie.
You are smart.
You are attractive.
You are a brilliant writer/chef/baker/designer.
You are a valuable worker.
If we get over this fear of the light and believe in every word that someone says, we will live a much fuller life. This isn't to say we can't be constantly refining who we are in all areas of life. What I am saying is you are smart, and can become smarter, healthier, turn good into great.
Believe in yourself; help others believe in themselves.