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« Okay, Here's The Situation.... | Main | Girl Dancin' Down Those Dirty And Dusty Trails..... »

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


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Every single person in the world has a defensive measure about whatever it is they're uneasy about. Some people rely on being mean to others, some just won't talk, some cry, some cling to people who show affection.

My firm belief is that using humor or sarcasm to be self-deprecating is one of the healthiest ways of being defensive, because it instantly takes all of the power away from someone who might otherwise be hurtful.

I direct you to this Steve Martin/Roxanne clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWNLhptltBg


How many licks does it take to break the hard candy shell of a person? That is the question.


Ok, well, I suppose it depends on the thought behind it. I know that I poke fun at myself from time to time but there are times I do things because I find them amusing. You put yourself in these situation simply because you know it's going to be a good story and maybe you learn something along the way. (Running was one of those things.)You end up with some really funny this is how I see the world and it's more a result of my foibles that that... isn't it funny?

But definitely there are times you want to protect yourself. More of a 'I knew it was dumb'and I did it anyway. And it's defensive.

But I do think you can poke fun at yourself and at the world and be ok with it... depends on self-talk.
My two-cents.


Let me suggest that self-deprecation is most healthy when it's funny and you can laugh about yourself. If you can laugh about yourself and have it be real that's the healthiest it gets.

I do think, though, that self-deprecation as a, "inb4insult" mode is a bit more problematic. If that becomes the natural, first-off, everytime comment a person makes - healthy not so much.

To me the most beautiful women in the world are those who start off thinking they're flawed or not "all that", and the ugliest women in the world are overtly sexual and primp around like peacocks. I have this native desire to shower the former in flowers and jewels to help them shine, and an equally strong desire to hit the latter in the face with a blueberry pie.

That last paragraph had nothing to do with anything but I've been looking to say it somewhere now for weeks and finally got my chance!


I like my hard candy shell...

Miss Britt

I disagree with Adam. I am of the mind that if you don't allow yourself to be vulnerable sometimes, you miss out on the opportunity to feel.

Walls aren't filters. They don't keep out the bad and let in the good.

Ahem. Now. About YOUR post. I make fun of myself as a means of trying to embrace my "flaws". I also do it from time to time thinking that if I can be "OK" with it, it won't hurt so bad if someone else tries to.


I know what you mean by the humor as defense. Some people use humor to express, but I know a whole world of people who use humor as defense (ahem, including yours truly). When I meet people like that, that's when I wanna hug them and tell them I love them too - but I'm usually too hard shelled to show my core unless they show me theirs first. And so goes the catch 22.


You give peoples' opinions and comments too much weight to begin with Hilly. Humor is fantastic, and that is the milieu for your deflective preemptive strikes, but take that away and you have the vulnerable pain of being able to be hurt by whatever you think may be coming from people. You have all the tools necessary to develop the confidence and grace at your core that largely if not completely displaces that vulnerability. Developing that also fosters peace with yourself and strengthens your own efforts in improving yourself.

And yes, a LOT of those preemptive strikes - I feel pretty confident in saying a vast majority - are completely unnecessary. Is it not evident to you yet how respected you are? If not, how can that be? I wonder if you can go talk with someone who you KNOW adores you, and make them kick your ass, please.


Britt's retarded.

Being vulnerable doesn't mean that you let other people hurt you.

Mr. Fabulous

Not only is Adam 100% correct, but I was thinking of that very movie scene even before I got down to the end of his comment and saw that he had linked it.

Now, of course, all I can feel is a massive skeeving that he and I were thinking that much alike.

Chronic masturbating cannot be far behind. Le sigh...


Far behind? Fab, you've been a chronic masturbator before I was even born, old man!


Got to go with Adam here. Taking the power away from others before they have the chance to use it on you is empowering to one's self-image and worth.

Ok... that came out all professional sounding...

What I wanted to say was "take your power before someone else does"


Nope. It's one thing to take another person's power away, but if you're constantly cutting yourself down all the time just to protect your frailties I think there's another problem going on here beyond just getting your feewings butthurt by people.


I think the truth lies somewhere in between Adam's and RW's comments. Yes, there is a level of self-deprecation that can be funny and give you your power back. But I *think* (and I could be wrong here) that that's not the kind of self-deprecation you're talking about. You're talking about the UNhealthy kind. I'm guilty of this, too. It's beyond humor, it's the inner bastard critic that makes us feel bad about ourselves.


While I'll eventually comment to each of you individually, I like the back and forth of ideas going on here so I think I will just let that flow.

In that respect I think I should point out that I am not only talking about what *I* do and how *I* feel by posting this. It's about everyone (and a lot of people that I know) and I think it is good to be searching for that line in the sand.

I feel like my self-preservation isn't completely psychotic and doesn't always take place. I know that some people out there aren't out to hurt me but also? Some are....unintentionally or not.

Keep on discussing while I try to get the idea of Adam and Fab's mutual masturbation out of my head.


OK - I'm going to let it fly. And this is more than I'll ever say on my blog, that's for sure. Nice going, Hilly.

When I was in 8th grade I was the kid that caught it constantly. I was beaten, ridiculed, spit at, mortified, pushed around, taunted, excluded, and made to feel the supreme Nothing.

I didn't have a physical deformity and I was white just like everybody else. I did have a ridiculous case of teen-face (if you get my meaning) but I wasn't - "cool". I came in from another classification in 7th grade and dropped - somewhat perversely I always felt - into the lowlifes in 8th. I don't think they do that anymore. But whatever. It was miserable.

It was miserable and I didn't tell anyone what was going on. About being beaten and laughed at. Not the teachers, not my parents, and what friends I had saw I was not "cool" and walked away anyway.

High school changed everything. Suddenly the milieu that hazed me so fiercely in 8th grade was dissipated into a much larger group from many grade schools.

And I flourished. I was in every play from freshman year to senior graduation, everyone knew me, I wrote for the school paper, and MC'd school-wide assemblies. I can honestly say that 60% of that was revenge. No joke.

And the people who tormented me faded into the background and became their true selves; nothing.

They are nothing even now. And when I return to my reunions, those few who were in on the 8th grade mess, gather in a dark corner, shipping clerks, while I host the event.

No. Sometimes self-deprecating humor doesn't serve a purpose.

Sometimes you have to wait for your moment and when you get the chance - break out.

This forms my thinking about self-pity and laughing at yourself. That what informs my mind about this. That's the kind of person I am. When you can do it HONESTLY it's a good thing. When you put it on - not. so. much.

Let them laugh - it makes the revenge all the sweeter.


Hi Hilly. I've been lurking for a while now. :)

Just wanted to tell you that you are not alone in this. I think its a completely normal defense mechanism for people. Just remember that you're beautiful, no need to hide it.




Thought provoking.

Awesome insights.


I agree about "putting the damage on". If a person does nothing but belittle and make fun of themselves, I find them to be very unattractive and too hard to be friends with. Everything in moderation. Even this.

I really had no idea this would get so heavy and thought provoking but I'm not going to lie...I am very glad it did. It not only opens my eyes to new thought processes but will hopefully do the same for others.


Oh and another thought which is the polar opposite of what I just said...because I re-read Catherine's comment. Sometimes, even around people that adore you, this behavior comes up because well...you just really love them and want them to love you back.

Now then, I won't beg anyone to love me...however, I want to show them my uglies before they find them for themselves. And there is one of my biggest problems that I work on daily....

Lauren Plouffe

so, two things. I'm there with you in that leaking boat of self deprecation. And two, sorry I IM'd you randomly yesterday when you don't even like know me and I feel a little stupid.


I can honestly say that I do the exact same thing. I would rather make fun of myself than have someone do it for me. It's a cycle in which I don't have a clue on how to break.


We all do this. And I agree that there is a difference between doing it defensively and doing it to simply make fun of ourselves. It's a fine line, but I think you have to decide for yourself what's what.


lauren: Please don't feel stupid! I rarely chat even though I have my window up and I was in the middle of something else. I am so sorry I never got back to you!


As I read this, I was reminded of a recent therapy session. We were discussing how I see myself & for years, I've seen myself as depressed, clinically depressed. Then out of my mouth came, "What would I be if I weren't depressed?" And there I was, stuck. I don't know what, or who I'd be.
I don't bring this up to talk about myself, but I'm wondering if the same isn't true for you. You've long defined yourself as certain labels, ask yourself who would you be without them? Do your labels, your self-insults, actually give you comfort?
Perhaps this isn't about others at all & is all about you seeing you as the beautiful woman we see.
Just a thought.


Hilly, I understand your comment about even being self-deprecating even around folks who love you. In my case, it comes from a place of insecurity. It's a way of trolling for compliments when my ego isn't strong enough to ask for one directly. Like when I say, "I am so fat," which the rational part of my brain says is false but the emotional part says is true. And then everyone else says, "What are you talking about?" Or, "I look hideous in this outfit because..."


I was trying to think if I did this self depr. thing like you are describing. Yeah, I guess I do a little. But, more often I do the self depreciating thing to myself, my self talk. I think it has gotten to the point of it being way too much....too much negative thought about my body, etc. can hurt me I think. It's one of the many things I am working on about myself as I think it directly relates to self esteem or lack of. For me anyway. I can see what you mean by not wanting to get hurt so you use this tactic. Oh, how I wish we could all be so self confident and quit worrying about all this crap. ha. Just in a mood tonight I guess as I'm trying to study for physics.


First of all, there is nothing wrong with being a silly Hilly who is having a good time with herself. We're all doing that. Whether we admit to it or not. Fab admits to it all the time. All those masturbation related remarks...

I do agree with Adam. And I agree with Britt sorta. Not the whole tear yourself down in order to get in tune with your feelings thing but something similar. I believe in the yin and yang of emotion. It's sort of like the philosophy of "If you've never experienced pain, how can you know real pleasure." Sort of. Not quite... what I mean is that things are sometimes laid out in our lives in such a way that the juxtaposition of certain events, and emotions that are tied to those events, are what cause us to feel things so richly.

You stub your toe. So 5 minutes later when someone gives you a chocolate covered strawberry, that berry tastes soooo fucking good! And the toe doesn't hurt anymore. Equal and opposite reactions blah blah blah. The bad things we experience do make the good things feel even better. We appreciate the good more.

Nothing wrong with protecting yourself, but like anything in this world, you must always do it in moderation. All self deprecation is bad, not to mention not fun or funny. Always opening yourself to everything, always making yourself vulnerable is the same. There's a line you have to find and walk somewhere between the extremes. And your line is not in the same place as my line or Britt's or Karl's or Adam's...

Now, I feel old giving advice on emotions. Damn. Was I really born in 60? Ouch. Maybe you better listen to Adam. I'm older than him and I think maybe the Alzheimer's is setting in here...HEH.

Shannon Hilson

I tend to do this type of thing to myself as well, meaning self-deprecate where I feel I'm weaker than I should be, and cover it up with humor. I've never truly gotten why I do that, but I think your post gave me some insight. I guess I DO want to do it to myself before others can do it to me first. It does take away some of their power to hurt me, I think.

None of us are perfect, and all of us have things about ourselves that we're sensitive about whether or not we're loved in spite of them. I'm always so up front with people about what I consider to be my issues -- in real life, and in my blogs, too -- and I can laugh at those issues. Sometimes sincerely, but other times not so much. I'm only human, after all. I always say I do it in the name of honesty and directness, but that's only part of the truth.

I also think I do it because it prevents other people from jumping on those things themselves at some point down the line, and possibly hurting me more than I care to be hurt in the process. I probably figure that if others think I'm not bothered by my thick thighs, or my weird family background, or my lack of success in certain areas, then they usually won't bother even pointing the gun, let alone firing it.

Like I said, we're human and we can be hurt. We NEED our candy shells so we... erm... melt in the mouth and not in the hand, I guess? I try to go easy on myself and be open-hearted when I can, as I'm sure you do as well, but I think it's important (and perfectly OK) to protect ourselves as well. Much as I wish it was otherwise, it's a cold, cruel world out there sometimes.


"I know that some people out there aren't out to hurt me but also? Some are....unintentionally or not."

Hilly, dude! HILLY. WHO CARES. Re-re-read the first sentence of my previous post.

ONCE Developing true, from-the-core-out confidence and grace trumps a million instances of acknowledging flaws preemptively to others, no matter who they are, how close they are to you or whether the slings and arrows were intended.

When you know yourself well enough to give all of your dignity the honor and love and deep respect it deserves, you will never feel compelled to do that again. Not for the painful reason you do it now. Oh, here and there there'll be contexts within which it may just the thing, but let's not even go to that idea yet, because during those times, it'll be one of many easy choices you have in conversation, not an urgent, necessary disclaimer. That's what it will feel like, easy/optional, pain free, and you are so not there yet.

The answer to not getting painfully hurt by others, whether they know/love you or not and whether they intended it or not, is not to put up a barrier or otherwise deflect, make arrows fall away. It is to respect yourself so well and with such knowing about what is true about who you are, that those arrows dissolve into nothing by the time you catch them in the corner of your eye. After a while, you don't even bother seeing that. You know what is truly important, and arrows don't even come in to get rated.

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