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The Danger of Self-Deprecating Humor

We all do it thought, right?

Make fun of ourselves, or point out a flaw or issue we have before someone else can.

I’ve noticed this is especially true for me recently.

It isn’t even that we make fun of ourselves before someone else can, we can just put ourselves down in a way that diminishes our self worth and value.

You probably know by now that my book will be available very soon for purchase. So soon, in fact that I’ve sent out advanced copies to a few people in an effort to gain honest feedback and review of the book.

I want them to love it, I want them to gain so much truth and spiritual knowledge and be transformed as a result of reading it, but there is something else inside of me that makes comments like these:

you can tell me how awful it is

you can tell me how much you don’t like it

you won’t look at me the same again after reading my personal story

Ugh I wish I could stop these thoughts from forming words that I actually say to people! I know I don’t like when people put me in the position to try to make them feel better when they put themselves down, so why am I now doing it?

The title of this post is the Danger of Self-Deprecating Humor, and I think there are two dangers to regularly putting yourself down even if doing so in a funny way.

  1. Threat to our identity
  2. Threat to our community

Threat to identity

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:45 NIV

The mouth speaks what the heart is full of, this is true whether it is said in a joking manner or not. I might say that they will hate the book as the joke, but there is a slight element of truth that I think they really might not like it.

Sometimes our self-deprecating humor steams from fear. if we can be quick to call out our insecurities then it won’t sting as badly when others do it.

But here’s the thing, it does sting just as badly when someone calls us out, or points out our deep rooted insecurity.

If I call myself overweight and jokingly say that I’m eating too much at an event with friends, if I hear someone make a comment or someone suggest that I should have eaten before so I don’t eat so much there I won’t take it as them trying to help.

I take it as confirmation that I’m overweight. I take it as confirmation that no one likes me or they feel sorry for me and that’s why they are my friend.

What we verbalize is also what we internalize.

The more I talk about myself being overweight, or my book not being “successful”, the more those words just hang in the air and I continue to breathe them in and live them out.

What we say is what we believe, so if we are constantly calling ourselves a failure (maybe as a joke or a way to get a backhanded compliment) then we will start to see ourselves as a failure, and even seek out external confirmation to prove our point.

This self-serving bias and pursuit of identity confirmation is a threat to our true identity as co-heirs with Christ and daughters of the king.

It’s fine to speak out your fears so they can’t continue to bounce around inside your head on replay, as long as we also speak truth over ourselves.

I can say all the negative things I fear out loud about the book (which is good so those worries don’t hold you in bondage) but I also need to be replacing those lies with the truth.

No one is going to like this book. I didn’t write this book for mans approval I wrote it being obedient to God.

People are going to look at you differently. It’s a good thing people will look at you differently their pre-conceived ideas of who you are, or who you’ve always been will be challenged, and that is a good thing.

I struggle with wanting approval, validation and acceptance from other people. Not only wanting but seeking. Seeking approval in this way isn’t healthy, it’s actually quite toxic to fish for compliments and validation and the end result of someone truly complimenting you often is that you don’t believe it.

they don’t really mean that.

they are just being nice

they must feel sorry for me

Have you ever felt that people’s compliments towards you were insincere?

In the past I’ve talked many times about how accepting compliments can be harder than hearing criticism, unless we are placing our hope, trust, faith and confidence in the right things.

This leads me to the second danger of Self Deprecating Humor, the threat to community

Threat to Community

After a while people get tired of negativity even if it’s framed in a funny way.

People only want to hang out with people who poke fun at them selves and put themselves down for so long, then they’re ready for a change.

You can only assure someone that they aren’t overweight and they look healthy so many times.

You can only assure someone that their wisdom and influence comes from such a humble and Godly place so many times.

If they refuse to believe it, you stop saying it. They might still be making a difference, but if we refuse to believe what other’s say about us (especially if it’s positive) then we might still be living from that place of fear, instead of the place of freedom.

Cultivating community and sharing with others is scary, and there can be a level of fear when we step out and share with such openness and vulnerability, but even as you scrutinize what other people might say or think about you, let me remind you of these three truths that have helped me:

  • Your story matters.
  • God sees you.
  • God loves you.

Salmon New Year Goals Facebook Post

Ultimately the only person you need to worry about impressing or pleasing is God. And if He’s called you to do something and you’ve been obedient to him and stepped out in faith then you can rest assured that He is proud of you.

Looking to our relationship with God as the source of true validation and strength takes the pressure off all of our other relationships, including friendships and even our marriage.

When we don’t look to others to affirm or validate us constantly we are free to be ourselves, without fear of judgement or failure.

A relationship that is not self-seeking or self-serving is much more life-giving and fruit-producing than one that is focused on self.

So what should you do the next time your tempted to put yourself down, or insult yourself:

Go ahead and say those thoughts aloud, but instead of waiting for the other people to assure you and compliment you, admit where the source of those thoughts stem from and replace the lies with the truth.

I’m afraid that people will not like the book and I know that comes from my fear of failure and rejection. I also know my responsibility is to be obedient and God will take care of the rest. 

Remember those three key truths, write them on your bathroom mirror, say them over and over again, write them on the chalkboard,

  • Your story matters
  • God sees you
  • God loves you

I pray that this has been encouraging to you sweet friends! I pray that you are able to speak those three truths over yourself daily and you start to believe them if you don’t already and begin to live from that place of freedom.

My book, The Butterfly Blueprint: How to Renew Your Mind and Grow Your Faith talks much more about the importance of these things and how they will strengthen and grow our relationship with God. Pre-sales will be available soon, so if you’d like to get on the special VIP list to be the first to receive the link the order click HERE. Or if you’d like to learn more about the book, you can also click HERE.

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