The Art of Putting Yourself Down

July 12, 2018  |  people / psychology  | 

There is a trend among some to be outspoken and vocal about the parts of themselves they’re unhappy with. The art of the put-down is less fashionable now but I remember, particularly back in high school, when it was the done thing. And I was certainly a master.
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Putting myself down around others was an attempt at reasserting my humility. It tried to quash any suppositions of the narcissistic, egotistical aspects of my character that people might have read into. The idea that someone might take me for “loving myself” made me very concerned. I didn’t want to be seen in that way. So the easiest way to express myself was to offer frequent reminders to others that I was less than happy with a great slew of general aspects of who I was.
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The acknowledgement and dissatisfaction of certain personal qualities was real. And I’m sure, not unique to me. However, the need to share this in the company of others was not particularly brave and vulnerable. Nor did it act as a great impetus for change.
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Constant reinforcement of how crap I thought I was didn’t motivate me to improve.

And sharing it with others merely reconfirmed those insecurities – because even when people would argue back and insist I was wrong, I didn’t believe them anyway.
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It’s taken a while, but I have since learned what a dangerous and detrimental behaviour this is (here’s when my nana and dad both roll their eyes because they’d been telling me this for years.) Not only does repeating these self-derogatory notions continue to give them more power and truth in your own mind, but the social expression of these notions also helps build them into your public identity. You become the person who isn’t good enough, the person who is insecure, the person who lacks confidence and dislikes themselves. You can also inadvertently make people feel worse about themselves by putting yourself down – if you’re constantly saying “I’m so fat” or “I’m so ugly” some people will use that benchmark at which to judge themselves. And if they consider themselves less attractive than you – you’ve just indirectly called them fat and ugly (it’s not nice, is it?)
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The idea of “self-love” now is very much in vogue, and as much as it’s used as a tool for making us buy more of Rhianna’s new Fenty line and other shit we probably don’t need, it’s a much more healthy and empowering attitude to be encouraging. It reminds you “It’s great to like yourself!” It doesn’t mean you think you’re perfect – but it reinforces positive and adaptive ways of thinking about ourselves that help us develop, grow and flourish.
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Next time you ‘re on the verge of negative self-talk – check yourself and see how you can rephrase that thought into something more healthy and useful. Make an effort to remind yourself of THREE THINGS you like about yourself, every time you think about something you don’t (because negative cognitions carry more weight than positive ones). And if someone offers you a compliment, just f*ckin’ take it. Don’t challenge it if you don’t believe it – someone has seen something good in you that they deem worthy of mentioning. Perhaps it might even be true.



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