There are many things that are uncomfortable about writing on the internet. You’re showing vulnerability to anonymous strangers, exposing yourself to criticism, mockery, scorn, or mere silent judgement. But there’s one part of it that you would expect to be nothing but pleasant: when people tell you that they really like your work.

It took me a while to even realize that I felt uncomfortable being praised for my writing, because it still is, on the whole, a great feeling. But there is some discomfort there; something about how you might not live up to the other person’s image of you; doubts over whether you deserve it; the momentousness of finally receiving the validation you’ve been seeking for a while, especially from someone you admire.

There are probably many ways to deal with this discomfort, one of them being a deep spiritual journey in which you transcend your ego, heal your traumas, integrate your shadow, whatever else. For the time being though, I’ve found something else that also works: treating the praise as if it’s not really about you.

Because on some level it really isn’t about you. First, it’s about the work. The work stands on its own, untethered from your identity. It’s the result of not just your own life and thought but of the accumulation of lifetimes of human experience and cultural evolution. And second, the praise is about the person delivering it. It’s their attempt to express appreciation and love, to connect, to encourage what they want to see more of in the world.

The praise is not a comment on your inner worth or how cool or creative you are. It’s only incidentally about you. You’re merely the vehicle through which this creation took form—the facilitator between the ideas and the audience. So let yourself be that medium of connection, and let the praise pass through you to the beauty and utility of the ideas themselves.