When I wrote a couple of weeks ago about my tendency toward self-sabotage I mentioned briefly that there was a difference between that and self-deprecation.
It's time to explore the differences.
Self sabotage is rooted in fear. I fear a lot of stuff. I am afraid - dreadfully afraid - of being abandoned and left entirely bereft of love so I tend to subjugate myself and make myself "small" in order to be "accepted" by others.
Its terribly manipulative and not very generous or giving of me, but its an open admission on my part that this is what I instinctively "do" to protect myself from my greatest fear. It is a tough battle I wage between confidence and independant self-love and this long standing habit of being a defeatist slave toward others.
Then there is my skill. It's called self-deprecation. This is a good skill and for some reason Australians - as a culture - seem to be rather good at it.
Self-deprecation is a little bizarre. It CAN seem like self-sabotage and sometimes it gets a little tangled up in that but for the most part - at least for me - self-deprecation is really about humour. This humour is based on a strong sense of self-observation of the ridiculous and silly within myself.
It isn't about self-loathing and it isn't about being completely under-confident; it does however grease the path for building friendship, understanding and breaking the ice with people.
For me self-deprecation means that I am not that afraid of being made to appear foolish or ask stupid questions. It means that I have a strong sense of my short-comings and that's okay because I ain't "perfect" and nor do I need to appear so.
Self-deprecation is about making others comfortable and at ease. Self-deprecation is also about humour and making people smile or laugh because they can't help it - you just make them laugh! :) It is not about manipulation based on fear but on generosity of spirit and gentle encouragement of others. The total opposite to self-sabotage.
The two may look on the surface to be very similar but they aren't. My sense of humour means that I will sometimes say things that sound like I'm "putting myself down" but often I'm merely making an observation about myself that I hope puts someone else at ease in my company and breaks down any misunderstanding between us. I above all do not want to appear superior but equal and creating that equality sometimes means showing some humour based humility.
The balance can easily tip over to self-sabotage though and I am now aware of this. When the Self-deprecation sinks to a level of mere grovel and a desperate lunge for acceptance in order for ME to feel valuable instead of the other person being made to feel comfortable - that is when it gets dangerous again.
I know this now. I'm working on making these two sides of myself more coherent and I'm learning to recognise the signs where my skill at putting others at ease through my use of humorous self-deprecation becomes merely silly self-sabotage.
I AM independant, loving, lovable and valuable! These are not boasts but truths not just about myself but of everyone I know and love.
I am also clumsy, occasionally thick as a brick, short-sighted and absent-minded! These are not just truths but also boasts because I'm glad I am not any more perfect than you! ;)