When someone makes jokes or derogatory remarks about themselves it can be funny, but at who’s expense? It can also make others uncomfortable, be seen as compliment-fishing, or that someone just frikken doesn’t know when to quit. Believe me when I say, the jokes and the self-shaming get real old, real fast. Come on people–start being kinder to yourself.
Here’s a definition to consider. Sometimes it not the self-deprecation itself, heck it’s used in comedy all the time, but it’s the reason/mentality behind it and the frequency of the behavior.
Self-deprecation is the act of reprimanding oneself by belittling, undervaluing, or disparaging oneself, or being excessively modest. It can be used in humor and tension release.Wikipedia
Comparison, Comfort, and Compassion
The non-stop monologue in our heads is not only powerful but self predicting.
I’ll never forget one day pre-pandemic when I offered a ride to a couple of colleagues. They had nothing to prove to me and knew my stance of negativity. But it was like one woman couldn’t help herself–as she got in the car she commented–“Oops let me and my fat ass in first because we take double the space…”
She was (and still is) a tiny little thing so I asked her later about the comment. She shot to a standing position and faced me and said “Look. See how big my hips are? I have the fattest ass of anyone I know. I’m huge.”
We did not see with the same eyes.
At first I thought it was a skewed body image (body dysmorphic disorder is a mental disorder) but in this instance it was more about self deprecation. We talked about it and she said she liked to mention her “fat ass” before anyone else did–for her it was an issue of self esteem. I expressed my concern and in the last few years, maybe because she’s matured some, she’s definitely more gentle with herself.
The way she referred to herself came off more sassy and perhaps even an attempt at self-depreciating humor, but IMO it backfired and made her seem rather sad. In the end, I think it was a stage of trying to find her own voice and style that brought about the behavior. But that’s just speculation. She found a more positive brain loop and that’s a good thing.
While my colleague knew what she was doing, there’s also that intrinsic beast of comparing ourselves to others that rears its ugly head. We all know that comparing ourselves to someone else is risky to our self esteem and is a dangerous road to go down. We never quite measure up and the uncertainty creeps into our psyche quickly. Our mental health needs to always be considered and for god’s sake, if you’re not going to take care of your own, then be mindful of others.
If you wouldn’t say it to someone else… Why would you say it to yourself?
….over and over and over….
Change the station!
Compliment-Fishing And Modesty
Excessively modest is listed as part of the definition for self-deprecation. This inability to accept a compliment or kind words, may at first seem like a bashful nature but it can also be someone who is telling themselves how terrible they are.
Have you ever complimented someone for something they’ve done and they come back with reasons against the positive praise. Like …’oh it was nothing..I should have done it different.. ‘ or “I’m really not that good. I suck at everything… blah blah blah…”
It’s imperative to practice saying “Thank You” over and over again.
If I pay you a compliment, and you go into a negative tirade to let me know how foolish I am to actually say what I said, you can bet I’d see you as impolite and I wouldn’t try to prove you wrong. Think about it.
If you think people will grovel at your feet to prove your modesty false, then you best think again. Is your modesty linked to your mood? Do you sometimes needs a little boost? Perhaps a little attention? Let me tell you, people see right through the self-depreciation and will begin to do one of these things:
- they’ll stop complimenting you. Seriously. If you do the whole whine thing about how awful your hair looks, how big your thighs are, or that you’re unlovable–it’s like the little boy who cried wolf. The first time, the attention is all there 100 but it’ll stop–mark my words.
- they’ll begin to agree with you. Again, this does happen and it’s not fun when you say something negative about yourself and people agree–just to frikken shut you up!
- they’ll being to ignore you all together. This is a point where people don’t want to be around you. You’re needy and constantly wanting strokes well, let me tell you, you need to start doing better for yourself.
If you’re compliment-fishing, it will backfire. It’s really not flattering and is embarrassing not only for those who know you, but also for those who don’t. I can’t tell you the countless times I overheard people in stores or restaurants who put themselves down and allow others to argue the opposite. It’s not the least bit funny or endearing, in fact, it’s pathetic.
Change the station!
A Very Bad Habit or Reflex
Sometimes, people can’t help themselves. They’ve been using the deflecting tool of self insults for so long they don’t know what else to do. I know a couple of young men who consider themselves to be socially awkward and get tongue tied in group situations.
This type of social anxiety can be a trigger for self deprecating thoughts and talk. One of the young men told me that he wanted to point out his flaws to others in a jovial manner to put them at ease. Little did he know that with each fat joke he told, he was hurting his own confidence in going forward because others weren’t sure what to do.
Habits can be broken. So can the negative thoughts that we tell ourselves on a regular basis. If you find yourself falling victim to the game of self-deprecation, you need to take a look at your self talk.
- those negative loops in our head can be really damaging to your life. It’s time to shut them down. Acknowledge the fact. Commit to change.
- be kinder to yourself. If you find yourself about to make a self deprecating remark, stop, swallow and say nothing.
- mantras. Put a sign in your bedroom, bathroom, lunch box, make-up bag,… somewhere you’ll see it everyday…. make it positive, repeat it, commit to it… An example may be something like “I am a good person” or “today is going to be a great day because that is my choice”.
- stop comparing yourself to others–right now!!
- if you have a desire for change in your life and thinking, then own it and take the bull-by-the-horns and do something about it. You are the most powerful person in your life–do it.
- believe in yourself and in the contribution you make to the world. This can come about by positive self talk, seeking counseling, mantras, improving on what you feel your short-coming is, or medical intervention.
- it’s seriously unattractive when someone is constantly putting themselves down or having to be built up. You can, and will, make a change once you make that choice.
- believe in yourself. I do.
Change the station!
Here are a couple of different posts I’ve written that may help you start to rethink the negative loop.
It’s not funny anymore. It’s now a habit and turning to self loathing… It needs to stop. While cracking a joke once in a while is one thing, you need to know when to stop and I say–sooner rather than later. Be gentle with yourself–It’s the only self you have.