Google provides the definition of self-deprecation as “modesty about or criticism of oneself”. When I think of self-deprecation, I think about making yourself seem insignificant or putting yourself down. Although some call this a coping mechanism, I have found that it is a destructive habit for me. I challenge you to reflect on whether or not it’s a destructive habit for you as well.
There is often the backbone of humor that some find comfort in and use as a “shield”- this I know all too well. Here’s the thing, I’ve spent the last 15 years doing this, and boy, I did not realize how damaging it was until I took the time to focus on myself - to focus on my happiness, self-awareness, and confidence. Now I’m not saying that I still don’t catch myself doing it, but I’m so much more conscious of it. So, before I share the three things I’m continuing to do to kick this habit, let me share my story.
I distinctly remember my last few years in elementary school being rough, and it just continued on from that. I mean, any 90’s baby knows the fashion didn’t help, but in reality, my chest developed far before many in my class. Cue in self-deprecation before I even knew there was a word for it. I would compare myself often, and each time my chest was mentioned, I would have a quick joke to divert from the comment. I continued this habit throughout middle and high school when it came to my curly hair, my size, my harry potter glasses (yikes, a rough time in my life), and my chest that started it all. Sadly, as my mother would call me beautiful, I would only think of all the things I hated about my body.
Going into college, things didn’t get much better. Although I gained confidence, I didn’t kick this bad habit. If anything, I did it more often unfortunately. With my sorority sisters, people I would just meet and many more, but this time I did it for everything - never completely taking a compliment, succumbing to someone’s criticism, and always comparing myself.
So, when did I start recognizing this destructive habit for what it was? One word, Spain. I studied abroad my fall semester of my senior year. While there, I became friends with such amazing women from around the world. Women who called me out every time I would do it and pushed me to be a lot more aware of it. I made goals going forward to find the best ways to catch myself in the moment, and here’s how I do that. Just remember, I’m constantly a work in progress. Life is a journey, not a destination.
I made a list of my insecurities. This was the hardest part and took a long time for me to finish. I made this list to make myself aware of every “trigger” I had that lead me to making a joke about myself. This list is made up of physical attributes, skills I have, and things about my personality.
I journal often, so with this list I began to write affirmations of love to these insecurities. Reasons why I love myself and how these things make me who I am. This exercise was a way to build confidence but also to build a constant foundation to my self-love and body positive journey.
Lastly, I reevaluated my relationships with the people that I would often experience situations where I engaged in self-deprecation. I made an effort to try and weed out those relationships, but when I can’t, I try and take a breath or count to three before responding to someone who makes a remark that I would react to.
All three of these things continuously get tweaked as I reflect and gain confidence. With time, I truly believe I’ll be able to kick this habit wholeheartedly. I have confidence, we all do in some way, but sometimes we question that confidence. It’s a very natural thing to do. When we do it though, we need to start making a choice for the better. A choice to celebrate ourselves, not to tear ourselves down. We control our narrative and we cannot let anyone else do it for us.
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to address such a destructive habit that has become such a normal occurrence. In a perfect world, I would not have started hating my body and myself as a child. In the real world though, I’m grateful that I met strong women who called me out. In the real world, I’m happy that I don’t shy away from such an awkward topic. In the real world, I challenge you to do what those did for me in Spain. To remember that words have impact, but most importantly, that you are worthy, you are beautiful, and you are perfect exactly how you are.
Putting an end to this habit does not mean you become boastful or full of oneself. I believe it means that you begin your journey of self-affirmation.
“Self- Affirmation” the recognition and assertion of the existence and value of one's individual self.
It’s the journey of owning who you are and knowing your value. I’ll leave you with two questions.
When was the first time you remember hating yourself? And do you love yourself now?