Do you spend a lot of time bringing yourself down? Do you view yourself as a failure, as someone unworthy of love, success, of happiness? Self deprecating behavior is common in people who suffer from mental health conditions like depression, but surprisingly, the average person engages in this behavior more than you might think.
In a world where constant comparisons are being made on social media, in magazines and billboards, and on our TV networks, it’s difficult not to compare yourself to people who seemingly have more than you. More fans, more money, more success, more beauty; the list goes on and on.
How do we stop degrading ourselves? Why should we stop degrading ourselves? This common issue needs addressing, so we’re going to look closer at why we do it, how to stop, and why it’s so important that we discontinue this harmful practice.
Why We Do It
Why do we talk down to ourselves, anyway? There’s a difference between reprimanding oneself for a mistake and constantly degrading yourself. You absolutely should recognize where your shortcomings are, or when you make a mistake, but when you make degrading yourself a habit, it becomes something bigger.
Self depreciating behavior is something that’s common in many mental health conditions, especially depression. The condition makes the victim feel worthless and unloved, and those terrible invasive thoughts are always present.
Aside from specific mental health conditions, there are several reasons the average person might degrade themselves.
Constant Comparisons: We live in an age of “likes”. Unfortunately, we tend to measure peoples’ value as a member of society often by their success on social media. Likes are a social currency all their own, and the constant consumption of social media can actually lead to depression and anxiety by itself.
No one could possibly feel good about themselves when they’re constantly seeing other people with more. More likes, more shares, more money. It’s everywhere! We even do it subconsciously. If you see a beautiful model on Instagram, it can create feelings of insecurity.
Wow, she has so many likes. She’s so beautiful. I wish I were that beautiful. Simple thoughts like that can lead to a slippery slope of low self-esteem and self depreciation.
Abuse: Abuse victims often degrade themselves due to trauma caused by their abuser. Verbal abusers and manipulators will often use name-calling, blaming, and shaming to their advantage, making the victim feel worthless and unloved.
This creates a sense of self loathing, which makes degradation on a daily basis a normal occurrence.
Societal Expectations: Social media aside, our society seems to have very specific expectations for gender roles, sexuality, and other things that are crucial to one’s identity. When you don’t “fit” into the mold, you can feel like you don’t belong, or you’re not meeting an expectation.
Society expects men to be manly, women to be feminine, everyone to be “successful” and beauty standards to be adhered to. This is simply unreasonable, as everyone is different in their own way, and no one should be made to feel like they don’t belong simply because they’re being themselves.
What To Do About It
So, what can be done about it? Degrading yourself is ultimately a habit that can be broken, but it’s not always easy to do, especially if you do it because of abuse or a mental health condition. Here are some tips on changing those self depreciating thoughts and forming better habits of self-love.
Be Kind To Yourself: The habit of being kind to yourself might be challenging to form at first, but it’s well worth the effort. Be kind when you make a mistake, don’t meet your goals, or fall short of an expectation. We seem to forget that we’re all human. No one is perfect, and expecting yourself to be is nothing less than a delusion.
Practice being kind to yourself by treating yourself when you meet a goal. Encourage yourself to do better when you fall short, rather than focusing heavily on what went wrong.
Understand You Can’t Control Everything: This is probably the most important thing you’ll want to come to terms with. You simply can’t control everything. Period. The only thing you can control is how you react to external factors and how you view your world.
Change Your Relationship With Fear: Fear is an inhibitor, right? Wrong. Fear, when used correctly, is a motivator. Are you afraid you won’t meet someone’s expectations? Your own? Good. You should be a little afraid when you step outside of your comfort zone, but that fear should drive you rather than hold you back.
The fear of failure is a very real inhibitor if you view it that way, but once you change the way you look at fear, you’ll find opportunities aplenty and a sense of self worth you never had before.