Every situation has a silver lining – discover a mindset that heals and enlightens.

September 8, 2021 · 7 min read

self deprecating
Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world. - Lucille Ball

“Sorry for my mistake, I’m just naturally clumsy and can’t focus”.


Self-deprecating can be a silent killer of our confidence. However, we usually don’t think much about it and it becomes a natural habit that we do from day to day.


It’s a negative trait that decreases our self-value. We start doubting ourselves and we sink our self-confidence gradually until it’s almost non-existent.


However, in some occasions self-deprecation can be a sign of high emotional intelligence and self-awareness.


Therefore, you have to distinguish to what group of people you belong to:


  • Harshly self-deprecating – you undervalue yourself by constantly nagging and relentlessly making fun of yourself.
  • Occasionally humorously self-deprecating – self-deprecating sense of humor which doesn’t harm you in any way.

6 Signs of harsh self-deprecating

1. You make fun of yourself

Whenever you feel uncomfortable with yourself and others, you might start making fun of yourself. It may be the only source that others find funny. As a result, it becomes your main secret weapon to become likeable.


It’s okay to do that occasionally if you feel like you might make someone laugh or feel better.  However, it shouldn’t become a habit to be your only source of humor. This humor has to be very precise not to make yourself look ridiculously undervalued.

2. You don’t acknowledge your accomplishments

If you complete your goal, for example, lose a lot of weight, you deny your accomplishment. You don’t want people to talk about you and you’d rather listen to them storytelling something else.


3. You can’t take compliments

If people tell you that you are beautiful or look stunning, you’d say: “Thanks, but I’m not”. Compliments are like bullets that you are trying to dodge. It can create discomfort and fear in some cases.

4. You don’t feel good enough

Whatever you do, you might feel that people are superior to you. Whether it’s related to relationships, work, skills – you don’t feel worthy. It creates inferiority complex within people which corresponds to worsened mental health.

5. You sacrifice yourself for the sake of others

Have you ever talked and someone interrupted you? Does this happen often?


Chances are if this isn’t a rare occasion, then you are seen by others as a low-value person and people don’t really respect your opinions. You reduce your authority, silence yourself in favor for others.

Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand-break on. - Maxwell Maltz

6. You become depressed, anxious, stressed

After or before self-deprecation joke, you feel these negative feelings. It becomes a perpetual cycle that is very hard to get out of. Your well-being and self-esteem plummets down.

What Is A Healthy self-deprecating humor?

A healthy self-deprecating humor is a type of amusement without harming yourself beyond healthy boundaries. With this outlook you look more approachable and self-aware of your imperfections. According to a study, people that master a good self-deprecating humor appear to be more likable by their employees.


In other words, this is a transformational type of likability where you put your weaknesses in front of the others in a funny manner. People that are able to do that are linked to have a greater emotional intelligence than the others. However, self-deprecation carries risks, such as being misunderstood and appearing with negative identity attributions.


People that can accept their imperfections are able to laugh at them and move on. They don’t waste time on hiding their weaknesses and appearing more vulnerable. This trait is a healthy sign of a positive mindset which adds up to a better well-being.


However, it shouldn’t be mistaken with other-deprecating humor. Self-deprecating humor makes people less concerned about the negative evaluation if that person is making fun of himself. If it’s other-deprecating humor, listeners (other people) tend to take that more personally and it doesn’t sound that fun anymore, scientific article finds.

10 Ways To Find self-deprecation balance

1. Self-deprecating humor as a distraction or message enhancer

If you have an important message to tell and you don’t know how to emphasize it, then self-deprecation can become an amazing tool to draw attention. With self-deprecation humor you’ll catch people off guard, they’ll be not expecting it.


It can act as a little break from talking serious topics all the time and bring people back to listening. Barack Obama is known for self-deprecating humor:


“I look so old, John Boehner already invited Netanyahu to speak at my funeral”.

self deprecating

With such messages speakers distract people from previous topic and introduces another important topic. Such saying is not harming the person. In fact, it’s the opposite – a person shows his vulnerability, similarities to other people and self-awareness in one or another way. He becomes more approachable.


Healthy self-deprecating humor leads recipients to be more mindful of their thoughts. It lets listeners to think of a statement in a whole another way.

2. Practice non-self-deprecating messages

If you are used to very harsh self-deprecating messages, consider practicing non-self-deprecating messages. It helps to boost your self-confidence and overall well-being.


Instead of saying: “I’m a complete loser that doesn’t know how even to live”, say “I didn’t know this aspect, I’ll look into it deeper for sure”.


Notice, that instead of harsh message you’ve still used sort of self-deprecating message which lets others know that you didn’t know an aspect. You’ll improve on it and come back with more knowledge later.

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves. - Sir Edmund Hillary

There’s no shame in not knowing everything – no one is an expert in everything. The knowledge that can be learnt just in one topic is almost limitless.

3. Expand your emotional vocabulary

Whenever you feel like cursing at yourself or saying that “I’m very angry at myself”, say “I’m a little irritated at myself”.


Learn more emotional words that you could use in your emotional expression language. Words are very powerful tools that can either make wars or create peace.


It’s a common sense to choose peace, so you should do that in your mind too. Don’t fight against yourself. You must be yours friend instead of an enemy.

4. Set boundaries of self-deprecating

Study has found that self-deprecating humor might be beneficial to your work performance. However, excessive self-deprecation is harmful and can lead to opposite results.


Consequently, it’s very important to set limits on how much you can self-deprecate yourself. There’s no exact limit how often or how rarely you should do that. In that scenario, the best way to know how much you can self-deprecate is to experiment.

self deprecation

Perhaps do it only once or twice a week instead of 5 times a day. After tracking your well-being for a week or a month, adjust the numbers and try again. When your self-esteem gets higher, you’ll know for sure that you’re on the right track.


If self-deprecating concerns you on a higher level, consider going cold turkey. Sometimes it’s the best way to avoid habits that are grown into your blood.

5. Stop using self-deprecating as a defense mechanism

A lot of us prefer to avoid arguments. Instead, we choose self-deprecating method to use as our defense. In that way the attacker doesn’t get offended and usually the argument ends at that point.


Nevertheless, this is a bad habit to practice. By mocking away their statement about yourself, you reduce your self-esteem and devalue yourself.

You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens. - Louise Hay

If you really want to become a stronger person mentally, you have to stand up for your opinion or for your values. It doesn’t matter if you are correct or incorrect in an argument. The main concern is to bring back your confidence. It’s okay to be wrong. To ignore and let other people push you is even worse.


If someone wants to spark an argument, start by explaining the situation or the cause behind it. Your quarrel skills might be rusty at first, but later on they will get better and you’ll find better statements to prove your opinion.

6. Talk to yourself nicely

People see a lot of negativities in this world. We focus more on bad things instead of good things. It’s just as we are blindfolded and can see only darkness.


You have to become more self-aware about your good traits. Notice how you are polite to someone or that you are willing to help people, etc. Even if you fail at something, your efforts are not for nothing. You’ve gained experience that will prevent you from duplicating the mistake again.

self deprecation

Everyone has inner voice. Instead of scarcity mindset, you have to develop abundance mindset. Abundance mindset allows you to enjoy and live life to it’s fullest. The best way to practice it is to start noticing a lot of opportunities in life that you’ve neglected.


You shouldn’t talk to yourself bad for being the way you are. You have to love and accept yourself the way you are.

7. Find the root problem

If you feel like you are not worthy of something or you feel hopeless and use self-deprecation as a tool to escape from problems, find the root cause why it’s happening. One of the ways how you can do it is by using “5 Whys” rule. It’s a barrage of sequential questions, for example:


1) Q: Why do I use self-deprecation?

A: I don’t like myself.


2) Q: Why I don’t like myself?

A: Every time I look in front of the mirror I look ugly.


3) Q: Why Do I think that I look ugly?

A: There are a lot of girls on Instagram/TikTok that are gorgeous; I am not. My social circle also says that I’m not beautiful.


4) Q: Why everyone says that I’m not beautiful?

A: Everyone around looks worse than me. They are envying my looks.


5) Q: Why do they envy my looks?

A:  They don’t like themselves and use offensive attacking methods to make themselves feel better.


How to solve the problem: abandon these toxic relationships and use less of social media.

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. - William James

Definitely, it might be hard to find “5 Whys” sometimes to a problem. This method was born from engineering-related problems (born from Toyota cars company), but it’s absolutely applicable to other real-life situations. You have to analyze the situation keep questioning yourself.


Notice that the answer to the 3rd question is answered twice. The first one is the social media’s fault, and the second problem is the social circle. Social media is a big problem that creates a lot of self-image issues.


People on social media appear with make-ups, they use the best shadows, lighting, scenery, photoshop and other editing softwares are involved, etc. In other words, social media is fake. Don’t feed your fears and insecurities with social media.


The second problem is the social circle. We often become blinded by our routines, usual relationships, etc. As a result, we live in a loop and don’t notice environment that surrounds us. We have to be very self-aware of our territory and identify the problems.

8. Practice self-care

One of the better ways to bring your self-esteem and well-being back is by taking care of yourself. You will start valuing yourself again and become more confident. Not only that, but you’ll also feel more relaxed and alive.


You can practice self-care by doing these activities:


  • Gym – you’ll become more toned and lose weight. Your confidence will boost up.
  • SPA/massages – it releases the tension from your body, you will feel more alive.
  • Journal – spilling out your thoughts on a paper can improve mental health and self-esteem.
  • Travelling – travelling even in your country can broaden your mind and make you appreciate yourself more.

9. Speak with a therapist

Therapist is always a good choice when solving mental health issues. They have a lot of valuable experience with real cases and know the best way to get the most out of the time that they are assigned to be together with you.

Once you embrace your value, talents and strengths, it neutralizes when others think less of you. - Rob Liano

If your condition of self-deprecation is very self-damaging, you should look for an expert to help you. It can be either done online or face-to-face up to your preference.


Therefore, never be afraid to ask help.

10. Accept the compliments

Whenever someone compliments you, don’t mock this compliment away. Instead, thank that person and carry on the conversation.


Compliments can heal wounds of soul and make you feel a lot better. The power of words shouldn’t be underestimated.


In some cases, people have to take a lot of courage to say a compliment, especially to a crush. You should value the efforts of other people and take them wholeheartedly.  People should spread as much positivity as possible, so don’t deny someone else’s efforts to make you feel good.

Final Words

Self-deprecation has a fine line between a healthy amount and unhealthy amount. If you feel unconfident, miserable, losing self-worth, then you must take actions quickly and start improving the situation.


Self-deprecating behavior can have a few different stages – mild, concerning and self-damaging. Therefore, you have to analyze yourself and decide which category you belong to. From there, take appropriate actions to cope with the problem. We all deserve to be happy.