I need to talk to you about the way you talk...
When I say this you look startled and a bit worried. You're wondering if I heard you say s#^%! when you dropped your coffee mug on the floor the other day; or if I'm offended because you told me your Aunt Helen is a crazy old bat. Nope, that's not what's bothering me. It's more serious than an occasional curse word; and face it, we've all got friends and family that get on our last nerve. What I'm talking about is really more like verbal abuse.
You look shocked. "Who me...verbally abusive? When? Where? To whom?"
The answer is every day, everywhere. I've heard you at church, at work, at the mall, in the restaurant, and even in the blogosphere. And just who are you verbally abusing? Yourself.
It's such a bad habit now, that I don't think you even realize how disparaging, how self-deprecating you've become.
"Hey, wait a minute!" you say. "I can say what I want about myself. And it's certainly better to be a little self-deprecating, a little humble, than to be a big fat bragger. People need to learn to laugh at themselves."
Hmm, feeling a bit defensive aren't we?
I used to be a master of self-deprecation. I too, once thought it was harmless. It started so simply; the self-degrading remarks. It seemed to make people laugh. Made them feel more at ease around me. This way they knew I wasn't stuck up. And since I was painfully shy, it was a way to sort of break the ice. So I began making funny cracks about my weight, my big nose, lack of memory, crooked teeth, etc. Why, I had so many flaws it seemed there was no end of 'material' for my schtich. It almost became a part of my personality.
Then one night I saw how bad it had gotten--the self-deprecation--when we were playing cards with some friends. Everyone was laughing and having a good time. Somehow the subject turned to me and to my surprise my friends started saying all of the mean things about me that I'd been saying about myself---in jest, of course.
"Well, Debbie, are you going to make another bone-headed play because you can't remember numbers? Look, everyone's won a round but you! You're the biggest loser! HA, HA, HA!"
Those words stung. We went on a weekend trip with the same couple, and I noticed that more often than not, I'd become the butt of this couple's jokes. Yet to be fair, they were the same words I'd said many times about myself. That's when I realized that I'd actually taught my friends to treat and think of me in that way.
But enough about me. Back to you. Here are some of the things I've been hearing you say... I'm such an idiot! What a moron! I'm as fat as a cow. Pretty soon I'll have to go to the sporting goods store to buy my clothes...in the tent section! My nose is so long you could use it for a ski jump! I'm the biggest klutz---I should join the circus! I'm such a slob--my house is always a pigsty. I look like an old hag; just look at all of this grey hair. I can't do anything right! I could go on.
This friends, is not humility and it isn't funny. Humility is knowing your worth but not being affected or obnoxious about it. When you think about it, one has to have something good going for them in order to have a need for humility. Fellow Christians, wasn't Jesus the most humble man on earth? Did he ever make fun of himself? Self-deprecation is actually false-humility that is clevery cloked in manipulation. It's designed to stave off criticism by being the first to criticize oneself. It's a basic tool for those lacking confidence. It's also a staple for those who want the conversation to revolve around themselves without seeming arrogant. Ouch!
And funny? Well funny is when you can laugh at yourself, someone else or something without any malice. Unfortunately, our society has all but forgotten how to recognize funny. Sarcasm has replaced wit. Vulgarity and mean-spirited 'zingers' are passed off as humor.
Debbies Life Lesson #4
When you're thinking of saying something negative about yourself, ask yourself, "Would I say this to, or about my child or someone I dearly love?" If the answer is no, zip it! Talk about the book you just read. Talk about the weather. Talk about your dog. But please, for heaven's sake, stop beating yourself up!
What was that that thing your mom always said...If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all?
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.
a return to love - marianne williamson