Self-Disparagement | Self-Doubt | Self-Consciousness
Imposter Syndrome | Social Anxiety


SELF-DEPRECATION is one of seven basic character flaws or “dark” personality traits. We all have the potential for some self-doubt and social anxiety, but in people with a deep sense of personal inadequacy, Self-Deprecation can become a dominant pattern.

To deprecate (or depreciate *) something is to belittle it or downgrade it. That is, to reduce its perceived status, importance, and value.

* deprecate rhymes with ‘fabricate’, while depreciate rhymes with ‘appreciate’. Take your pick.

Self-deprecation (or self-depreciation) therefore means belittling yourself, criticising yourself, or running yourself down—both internally in your own mind and externally in the eyes of others. It is defined as:

  • The disparagement of one’s own abilities; [1]
  • Communication that expresses something negative about its originator; making negative statements regarding one’s own appearance or abilities, such as saying “I’m so fat” or “I’m such an idiot”; [2]
  • Expressing disapproval of or being critical of oneself. [3]

It is an urge, often an automatic and irresistible urge, to present yourself as lower than others, or less than you should be, or even invisible—unworthy of being seen.

As with the opposite chief feature of arrogance, self-deprecation is a way of manipulating others’ perceptions of yourself in order to avoid taking a ‘hit’ to your self-esteem.

In this case, however, the basic strategy is to get in first—to launch a preemptive attack on your own failings before anyone else can do so. While the arrogant person tries to deny their imperfections by feigning perfection, the self-deprecating person believes their own imperfection is absolute: I am simply not as good as other people… And it’s perfectly obvious to everyone else, so there’s no point denying it.

Like all chief features, self-deprecation involves the following components:

  1. Early negative experiences
  2. Misconceptions about the nature of self, life or others
  3. A constant fear and sense of insecurity
  4. A maladaptive strategy to protect the self
  5. A persona to hide all of the above in adulthood

Early Negative Experiences

In the case of self-deprecation, the early negative experiences typically revolve around failing to live up to parents’ high expectations.

Perhaps the parents are perfectionists and expect the child to measure up to an impossible standard. Perhaps the parents are over-achievers and cannot accept having a child who isn’t similarly talented or driven. Either way, the child can never be up to scratch.


From such experiences of being constantly below standard, the child comes to perceive himself as something fundamentally flawed, basically inadequate.

Again and again, the child in this position learns that “who I am is not good enough.” The love, care and attention that he craves is unavailable, and the reason for this is—apparently—his own deficiency as a person. His constant sense of failure, and of being a constant disappointment to others, give rise to a fundamental sense of shame.


Who I am is not good enough. Nothing I can do will ever be good enough.

I should feel ashamed of myself just for being me.

Even before I try, I know I’m going to fail—so there’s no point in even trying.

At least I will always be right about one thing: my inadequacy.

I have nothing of value to offer anyone. I don’t belong here. I am an impostor. 


Based on the above  misconceptions and early negative experiences, the child becomes gripped by a specific kind of fear. In this case, the fear is of inadequacynever being good enough to please or satisfy others, never being good enough to deserve success or love or happiness.

The child feels like a gatecrasher in life, an uninvited guest, an interloper, and constantly fears being caught and exposed.

His attempts at living a normal life cause great internal conflict because he feels a normal life is not something he deserves, being below standard as a human being.


The growing individual becomes hyper-sensitive to the possibility of being exposed as inadequate, and sees the threat of this exposure everywhere.

His basic strategy for coping with this threat is to manipulate others’ perceptions in advance. Typically this involves:

  • avoiding others’ attention if possible: he will try to divert attention away from himself, keep the focus on other people or things;
  • managing others’ expectations: to lower others’ expectations, he will tend to apologise in advance for every forthcoming “failure” and deliberately act as inadequately as possible so that no-one expects anything else.

Remember, the individual with self-deprecation truly believes in their own inadequcy. They see little point in denying it. Their ploy, then, is one of damage limitation:

I cannot succeed in life, I cannot feel good about myself, I cannot get on with others. The best I can hope for is to limit the damage by hiding myself from view.

If I am belittled, I probably deserve it. But at least if I belittle myself first, I leave others with nothing to belittle me about.

As they enter adulthood, they come to rely on this strategy more and more.


Emerging into adulthood, the individual probably does not want go around being overtly afraid and insecure about their fundamental inadequacy. Hence the defensive strategy of self-deprecation puts on a mask of invisibility. He will tend to make himself small, silent and invisible; he will tend to talk very quietly, cover his face, look downward. This mask or persona continually says to the world, “I am not here. Look the other way. Pay me no attention. And if you do happen to notice me, don’t expect anything special.”

Outwardly, he also pretends to be the most inadequate person in the world—so that anything he then manages to do just adequately or even better comes as a nice surprise to everyone and might even elicit praise.

He might even become so adept at deliberate self-deprecation that it develops into a personal style of humour, much enjoyed by other people. His obvious lack of arrogance will also be attractive to some. If he completely identifies with the sense of inadequacy, however, this could have a debilitating effect. Whenever he receives praise or appreciation, he will simply not believe it.

All people are capable of this kind of behaviour. When it dominates the personality, however, one is said to have a chief feature of self-deprecation.

A d v e r t i s e m e n t

Positive and Negative Poles

In the case of self-deprecation, the positive pole is termed HUMILITY and the negative pole is termed SELF-ABASEMENT.

+ humility +




– self-abasement –

Humility, or modesty, is a state of having little ego or pride, and therefore not trying to elevate yourself in the eyes of others. Ideally, this is a state in which you can appropriately recognise and accept your “ordinariness”. You feel free from ego concerns. We could all do with some humility.

Self-abasement, on the other hand, is a state of excessive, unwarranted humility. In other words, a state of self-inflicted humiliation and degredation. It is a state in which you are trapped in a vicious circle of self-criticism. Even if you come to understand that you have adopted self-deprecation as a false defensive measure, this is just further “proof” of your ultimate inadequacy.

Handling Self-Deprecation

People with self-deprecation may feel constantly ashamed of themselves for no good reason and are often apologising for themselves. Depression is a possible outcome.

As with every chief feature, the key is becoming conscious of how self-deprecation operates in yourself. If you have self-deprecation, you can begin by observing your outward social behaviour and persona in action:

  • Do I criticise or belittle myself to others?
  • Do I try to manipulate how others judge me by lowering their expectations? (e.g., “Knowing me, I’ll probably get it all wrong.”)
  • Do I sometimes exaggerate how incompetent I am in the hope that others will be pleasantly surprised by my results?

Try to catch yourself in the act of putting on your “I’m useless” mask.

Then dig deeper:

  • Why do I try to manipulate others’ perceptions and expectations?
  • Why do their judgements matter to me? What am I afraid of?
  • What do I fear would happen if others saw the reality of me?

Approaching the deepest level you may need outside help in the form of a counsellor, therapist or at least a close friend:

  • Where does this fear of being inadequate come from?
  • How was I hurt?
  • Can I let it go?

Insight in itself will not remove the self-deprecation. By the time you reached adulthood, the neural pathways underlying this defensive pattern were pretty well established in the brain. Nevertheless, the brain is plastic, malleable, reconfigurable. Just as you can become more aware of self-deprecation through self-observation and self-enquiry, so too you can gain more control over it through using that awareness and by exercising choice in the moment.

  • Whenever I am tempted to run myself down before I’ve even done anything, I will now be more willing to let my results speak for themselves.
  • Realistically, I now know that even if I am judged as less than adequate, that will not kill me. It need not even hurt me. I shall pay far less attention to others’ expectations and judgements.

Another way to handle a chief feature is to “slide” to the positive pole of its opposite. In the case of self-deprecation, if you are getting caught in the negative pole of self-abasement (self-inflicted humiliation and degradation), you can re-balance yourself using the positive pole of arrogance, namely pride. In other words,  pay attention to things that make you feel truly proud of yourself. Better still, do things that make you feel truly proud.





Further Reading

Transforming Your Dragons

For an excellent book about the various negative patterns and how to handle them, see Transforming Your Dragons by José Stevens.

The 7 archetypes of fear - cover

Another great book about the seven character flaws, recently translated from the original German: The Seven Archetypes of Fear, by Varda Hasselmann and Frank Schmolke.

The Seven Chief Features

Self-Deprecation | Self-Destruction | Martyrdom

| Stubbornness |

Greed | Arrogance | Impatience

194 thoughts on “Self-Deprecation

  1. While I find your article interesting l do feel it is incomplete in not recognising nor addressing the mysterious issue of people who are very masochistic in their thinking, perhaps having what is sometimes termed a “self defeating” personality disorder.

    I do not think your various sub headings adequately recognise that aspet of this subject? That is some men and some women do really greatly enjoy gratification from self depreciation ideas involving themselves being defeated and humiliated about their inferior performance relative to others or another individual of same or opposite gender to themself.This sometimes happens just in their fantasy world, but can also sometimes intrude into their real world life?

    • Hi Timbo

      That’s a really fascinating question. Thank you!

      I think the key is the driving force behind the behaviour – is it a negative motivation or a positive motivation – fear or fulfilment?

      The defining feature of masochism is that being a victim in some way is a source of pleasure, satisfaction, fulfilment. This distinguishes it from the chief features (negative attitudes / character flaws) of self-deprecation, self-destruction and martyrdom, as the chief features are not attempts to derive pleasure but are anxiety-driven attempts to avoid one’s worst fear or deepest terror.

      I am guessing that the involvement of pleasure/satisfaction indicates that what we are seeing is not a chief feature in action but the individual’s life GOAL. In particular, those with the goal of Rejection derive pleasure and satisfaction from being rejected. They feel validated by it. The aim of living for Rejection is to be true to one’s individuality regardless of what anyone else thinks. In its more positive form, this means developing a highly refined sense of judgement. In its more negative form, it means getting a kick out of eliciting hostility. “Whenever someone punches me, I know that I am right.”

      It is also possible that masochists have a goal of Submission (rather than, say, a chief feature of Self-Deprecation. A person with Self-Deprecation sees public exposure of their inherent inadequacies as a crisis to be avoided at all costs. A person with masochistic tendencies sees positions of subservience and helplessness as unusually attractive and exciting, or perhaps comforting.

      I’m less clear about self-defeating personality disorder. It seems to me to be closer to Martyrdom than Self-Deprecation. Those with a self-defeating personality seem to engineer their own downfall in every possible situation — not because they like being incapable and unsuccessful, but because they want to demonstrate that they really, really are victims of others’ unreasonable treatment. In this case, it’s not that they derive pleasure from being victims, but that they get to vent some of their pent-up fury at being a victim … and at the same time reinforce their victim status as a “fact” for all to see.

      Hmm, I’m sure there’s a lot more to look at here. Time I started yet another new notebook!



    • Such a sad thing to talk about or lacking of thought . Figures my comment didn’t go through to thread

  2. I hate myself I feel inadequate … so many people say im beautiful and awsome I think total opposite of myself and now everytime I hear anyone talk of how good or nice or perfect i am I feel terrible inside an inner scream that haunts and taunts me….I dont think i can have children…I suck as a person I think I should die…what on earth am i here for….whats my worth when i feel like a piece of trash dont even wanna have sex with my bf because he wants a baby as much as I dobut cant concieve he will probally leave me for another and have a baby with them…meanwhile i have nothing to look forward to i see others happy i want to sisters have kids not me…all my friends just about too not me….I suck im 27 and I suck im a failure i ought to just die right….right

    • Hi there, and thanks for sharing how it is for you.

      I will begin by saying that there is no reason for you to die. No one would benefit from that, not even you. Life is the opportunity to change everything.

      The challenge you face is to recognise your true worth and value as a being in your own right. You do not have to do anything or prove anything to see such things, or to earn the right to be here. You are perfectly entitled to exist just as you are. You are also perfectly entitled to change and grow in any way you choose.

      It sounds like you have a very negative image of yourself, almost as though you (or your mind) will not allow a single positive thing to be said about you. I do not know the origins of this, though you might. A couple of scenarios come to mind, though bear in mind these are pure speculation on my part and I could be way off target, but hopefully something might be triggered if you reflect:

      1) Perhaps something very painful happened to you, perhaps associated with your good looks or good nature, so now you despise those aspects of yourself as the source of your worst pain/terror, and maybe you are even overlooking and denying those aspects to avoid future pain/terror. As a result, you can no longer even see those positive aspects of you. You have dissociated from your bigger, better self and you have become excessively and exclusively identified with a small, insignificant part of yourself.

      2) Perhaps you have been conditioned by the words and actions of others to hold a purely negative self-image. If an adult repeatedly tells a child that they are a stupid child, then the child will come to believe “I am stupid” as a simple fact of life, and will act stupid, even if in fact they are quite smart. Might you have been repeatedly or systematically put down by others around you, especially parents or elder siblings?

      3) Has someone in your life died – someone who was much loved and admired, full of life and potential, and compared to whom you seem a poor substitute? In such a circumstance, a person’s mind can start thinking “Why should I live instead of this great individual who so was much better than me?”

      4) Another possibility to think over: Guilt. One of the reasons why people sometimes get trapped in a self-loathing state is that they know they have done things in the past which they now see as wrong or immoral or unacceptable – so much so that they dare not admit to such acts even now, out of fear of complete rejection. Also, they will not allow themselves to experience any pleasure or success in life, as they feel that they don’t deserve it. So they carry around with them this untouchable inner secret, like a horrible black monster growing inside themselves, which no one must ever know about. And the more they try to “act normal” in order to fit in, the more fraudulent they feel because they’re not revealing this “true” self, the monster within. And any opportunity for a better life is immediately avoided or sabotaged, because while carrying their secret guilt they refuse to allow themselves to become happy.

      As I say, I don’t know the origins of your self-loathing, but here are some possibilities it might be worth your while exploring. At 27, you are far too young to be writing yourself off as a worthless failure. I hardly know a thing about you, but I do know that you are a valuable being in your own right, and that the path to joy is always open to you. As ever, that path is one of exploring and acknowledging hidden truths.


  3. I have been doing ok the past 8-9 months with no self medicateing what so ever. But yest at a family meal with ALL my family a cousin asked did I know such a person that said they knew me, n the persons a friend of my ex n knows all my history n drug use ect n my cousin was texting laughing while saying it ect n my whole mind set changed, I felt sooooo self conscious n wanted to run away cause she knew wat I’d done. I am terrified to make a friend incase they find out I was a lowlife druggy, cause wer I live n how I speak you’d never think it but everyone finds out. Plus my ex doesn’t like me socializing so he would spread rhumers n stuff too n I can’t cope so I just stay in, when I do go out I’m depressed for days depending on how it goes…..

    • Hi Samantha

      It’s sad to hear of the sort of social environment you live in where people are judged for their past.

      I think the challenge for you is to be yourself and actually take pride in the fact that while you were once a “druggy”, now you are not. You have been there, hit the bottom, learned something, and come out the other side. That surely makes you a bigger, stronger person. You have grown through something.

      Those who condemn or scorn former drug users are clueless about the whole situation. I can see why you would want to avoid all contact with such people. If that is not an option, though, perhaps you can confront them with their ignorance and lack of compassion. There are some good books out there as well as websites that might give you ideas to help you fight your corner and command respect instead of suffer ridicule.

      Maybe start here:

  4. Thanks for this I’ve always had this issue and wanted to understand it. he Your analysis is refreshingly frank, unlike the cloying and imposing optimistic advice out there that comes across as a bunch of trashy, sappy, insincere platitudes.

  5. I have been stuggling with self-deprecation for many years now, but only now realising the term. I was looking for the wrong terms and phrases on the net to try and diagnose myself. Alas, here it is. With better understanding comes betterment (For the lack of a better word)

    This site will be favorited and regulary viewed.

    Thanks Barry!

  6. childhood abandonment emotionally and physically, created this feeling of inadequacy. To deal with this i designed a style of humour as a teenager and i hid from people as best i could. As i matured in my early twenties, i began to utilize this self deprecation as a thirst to improve in my art and to gain self mastery. For a while I thought I was arrogant because because I gain so much pride in what I had learned and mastered, but it hit me arrogance cannot conceive of its own arroganceness(haha not a word I know, the self deprecate in me had to make these brackets). As a king soul self deprecation has been such a blessing and im thankful for this energy in my life. All the best to all who read this and to you and your site mr barry.

  7. Why have I always been ignored?
    The other day I was laying in bed remembering a lot of times in my life when I spoke to people and nobody’s listening to me at all. I know they weren’t doing it intentionally, and as I’ve got older I’ve found out the reason why: people assume I will either say something daft, or not speak at all, and so their social minds are just tuned in to people who are more worth being with than me and so they just stay focused on them all the time. It’s an automatic thing a lot of people seem to have, they can’t help it, and they don’t mean to be like it – even really nice people still can be like this. The only time people mostly have their undivided attention to me is when I’m the only one with them who they can talk to. I can then get into a good conversation then. But when there’s a group of people, I tend to get ignored no matter how hard I try to join in. OK, people sometimes go out of their way to speak to me but that’s about it. I can’t speak first without being ignored, and I’ve got sick of it. It isn’t fair, will this be happening to me for the rest of my life? I suppose it will.

  8. Interesting. I have heard teachings that say this form of behavior is actually an upside down ‘pride.’ It still displays an obsession with ‘self’ rather than freedom from ‘self.’

    • Well, you could say that self-deprecation/disparagement is an obsession with what’s deplorable and inferior about oneself relative to others, while arrogance is an obsession with what’s superior or special about oneself relative to others.

  9. This thread seems to focus on all the psychological “negatives” of self-deprecating. I choose to use self-deprecation in my leadership style. I self-deprecate to prevent the perception of arrogance. I have accomplished everything I have ever set out to do and have an amazing life. My family and kids are incredible and I have more than I deserve. (there is some of it) I am internally arrogant but never want to tell anyone of my successes. I find it hard to fail and tend to have a superiority complex which I am not proud of. I do not post pictures of my amazing life on facebook, etc. because I have the sense that it is bragging. I call it humble and I am not in a position to tell anyone how to live their life. I believe that self-deprecation is a leadership quality that can be used effectively in gaining trust. Maybe this is a little different perspective??? Maybe it is a defense mechanism….. Doctors would have a field day with me!!!! 🙂

    • Hi Troy

      Basically, yes, the focus here is on the negatives – this page is about when self-deprecation (self-disparagement etc) is a powerful, negative force in the personality. Some people cope with that by being “invisible”, some by managing others’ expectations, and some by feigning arrogance as a way to avoid the feelings of smallness and shame.

      Some people are aware of their negative or ‘dark’ traits and try to manage them, while some people aren’t aware of theirs at all and just act out.

      In your case, you are clearly aware that you have a negative tendency to arrogance, but you don’t want to exhibit it because you perceive it as unacceptable, so you strategically act (as you say) in a self-deprecating manner.

      I hope that clarifies the difference!



  10. Avoidant Personality Disorder. But, they do not take any criticism well. They are seriously passive aggressive underachievers, opportunists who look for underhanded passive aggressive ways to undermine others who are working very hard to accomplish something or create solutions. Ultra hypersensitive to criticism from others. How dare anyone expect anything from them!!!

    ^ [Those are rather judgemental generalisations. – Barry]

    • You’re an ass.

      [Request: Avoid going on the offensive if you can, please. – Barry]

      People that struggle with this have deeper issues they need to work out.

      You have no empathy whatsoever and are therefore, a terrible human being.

      [As above.]

    • That’s not true for everyone… If you’re suffering from this…(as said above) you seriously believe everyone is better than you and you try and fade yourself out…I can see what you mean and it’s something sort of similar but you can agree with the person and believe you add nothing to people’s lives so it wouldn’t really matter if you did anything like that it would have no affect because of your feeling of insignificance … Depends how you react as a person and how bad your self deprication is i gyess

  11. Hi Barry. I was lead to your site coz i asked google…. I have been a dutiful daughter, a self-giving sister, a law-abiding citizen, a loving and dedicated mother, an ever ready helping hand to anyone – known or unknown, yet, it seems life is not that ‘real good’ to me! I was only 10 yrs old then when my father started professing that I won’t be able to finish my studies because i will marry at an early age. He had uttered those lines when he is drunk and it had become a yearly ritual for him to censure me. Being a dutiful daughter and with Filipino customs not to answer back elders, i have just cried myself to sleep and in my young mind, i have comforted myself that when i grow up, I will prove him wrong. That I will finish my studies and find work and I will repay everything, as in everything, down to the last penny – all that they have spent on me to grow up. And those words, kept me from getting friendly with the opposite sex. And I grew up with such bitterness, and believing that my father does not approve of me. And never have i heard from him an affirmation. And in college, I kept company with gays, i felt happy and secure with them. Never had i experience a romantic relationship to the opposite sex with fear that what my father thought of me will be true. And, I finished college, graduated in time… then I worked….. a year after working in this big company, my father had the opportunity for the ‘homily moment’ with me. And, since i have graduated, this was what he had to say… since that i had started work, i have become arrogant already and that when he and my mother will be old and gray, i will just push them on one corner, letting them eat in a coconut shell and to completely disrespect them and disregard them… And, at that moment, I was 23 yrs old and heard him accusing me of such rubbish…and defenseless still, just cried myself and i thought, I can never, never please my father. He and my mother, brought me up in a manner that I will always have to give way to my younger sisters, 3 of them. As i was the eldest among the daughers and 1 big brother, they would repeatedly demarcate – i need not argue with my elder brother coz he is an elder. I should give due respect. and with my sisters, I must always set a very good example and give way since I am the eldest among the girls. That left me a big question – So, where do I belong? and my sisters, grew up in that mentality, that i must always give in and make way. And even in our adult life, I have never got back at them even if they have hurled hurting words at me. And that, I have gotten so used, that I try to understand them…. Self-deprecating? I want to break lose from these…. I am now in this moment of my life, in hiatus,,,, specially with financial aspect of my life. And I wonder, is this a kind of punishment? I thank God, for this cyberage, I have looked into all these self-help sites trying to find a better understanding of why these things is happening now that I am 54 yrs old, trying to find an answer, and hopefully, help me define, why i have to go through what i am going through. Your article Barry is of great help…. i am in progress…. I just want to share, I am in good health and my three kids, 18, 17 & 11 are most understanding with our situation……

  12. Low self esteem can leave us afraid to try new things because we fear that we will fail. However, the challenge of self esteem building is to embrace new things and to give yourself the opportunity to enjoy them, just because you deserve it. Taking up a new hobby can be a fantastic step towards overcoming low self esteem. Spending time with like minded people and enjoying an activity purely for fun, with no pressure, is a good way to feel better about yourself; you may even discover a hidden talent into the bargain!

  13. came across this site trying to solve my problems related to blockages in my mind that is preventing me from feeling worthy of any success or happiness.whatever i do ,i expect the worst outcome as i feel i dont deserve nice things. i hve developed social anxiety lately(past 2 years) as i see myself as a failure and lower othrs expectations of me, try to be invisible nd dont trust any compliments frm anyone.
    I hve developed health problems due to not taking care of myself. there r very few things that i really like to do but hve started doubting myself with those things too.( my parents had lot of expectations frm me as l had top grades till highschool, but they consider me as a failure now cos i didnt get in a good college( even i feel like a failure). they always used sarcasm towards me frm my childhood , my father treated our family like crap, now he’s changed but i cannot forgive him.
    i know that changing my attitude can really bring positive outcomes in my life. but i am unable to change… Still with this site i have identified myself. Hope that will help me somehow. thanks.

  14. Could it be that I have this feature because of my sense of unfairness? Because my childhood was basically built around school and I always had very high grades, I felt this wasn’t fair so I didn’t show myself, but now it helps to praise others. Or do I describe a different phenomenon?

    • Hi Eva.

      It sounds like you have humility, but I’m not clear if it’s excessive and damaging, either now or in the past.
      So I just want to check a couple of points if that’s OK:

      1. Your sense of unfairness.
      — Do you think this is something you were naturally born with, and are comfortable with?
      — Or was it something drilled into you by parents/siblings/other kids etc that left you in fear of being seen as smarter than average (“Who do you think you are, smarty-pants?” That kind of thing.)
      — Do you still feel it is “unfair” if ANY child gets higher grades than another? Or has that feeling only ever applied to you?

      2. You didn’t “show yourself”.
      — Does that mean you deliberately stopped performing well at school so as to avoid the discomfort of being seen to get top grades?
      — In later life, have you continued to hide yourself – or at least hide away any attention-catching aspects of yourself (e.g., underlying talents, personal feelings, eccentricities)?



    • I think it was drilled in me, but it feels more like a lesson I need to learn and I remain getting high grades and now I am getting more comfortable with it. I can now use my intelligence to help my classmates. I think it was a lesson in not worrying about what other people think about me, because I usually act different, for example being alone rather than being with others and loving learning for the sake of learning.

  15. After a lifelong battle with anxiety and depression, one might think this concept would have been brought up in therapy sometime during the past 44 years but somehow I’ve managed to avoid the obvious all this time. This IS truly the basis of my issues and has led to all kinds of other stuff that has resulted in many traumatic events in my life and the constant/overwhelming threat of suicide to make the pain stop.

    I’m going to pursue this further, and will start by reading this book. It sounds like it’s the right path to follow right now.

    I’m outwardly outgoing, I often take the lead in social and work situations and I’m highly intelligent but Im plagued with self depreciation and self doubt to the nth degree. I have been in positions of leadership but don’t expect respect and therefore never get it. I’m always on the outside because I’m afraid of getting hurt. I hold myself down because I don’t want others to hold be down. I feel like I’m a big fake and everyone is going to figure me out eventually. I apologize for having thoughts, opinions and plans, even when they benefit the other party. I dread asking for people’s time or efforts and once again, I rarely get these from others. I do not accept compliments as real and often dismiss praise immediately yet I dwell on any small criticisms for extended periods of time. (Although rarely receive negative feedback because I’m convinced that I have to provide a superhuman effort in order to meet others expectations) I never went to college and despite a high level of knowledge in my field and a somewhat revolutionary way of approaching things, I have achieved mediocre success in my career and I have very few friends. I’ve got lots of ideas but I rarely follow through on them because well, I don’t think I deserve to achieve my goals. I’m plagued with anxiety that my colleagues will figure out that I’m nuts and I’m afraid to stand up to my superiors with confidence, especially when I know my idea is not something they are ready to hear. I avoid friendships because I’m afraid people will find out that I’m not “normal” and I’m plagued with worry that my husband of twelve years will get sick of dealing with me and leave me.

    My kids are amazing but I fear they will be like me so I’m constantly torn between wanting them near me and putting up a barrier between us for their own good.

    I hate myself for being me, for being here, for taking up space, for not being able to get it together and just be “like everyone else.” Sometimes I pray that my heart will just stop beating because I don’t deserve to bother the world with my presence. But then I think of my kids and I just pray that I won’t hurt my kids with my issues. Sometimes I pray that God would take me out of this world and make it like I was never here in the first place. (Irrational, I know) In my mind, I am the exception to the rule that “God doesn’t make mistakes.” Happiness is not something I deserve. I am an outsider, I don’t belong.

    This is so ingrained in me yet on paper, I “shouldn’t” feel this way. I’m an ethical, somewhat attractive, intelligent person and a hard worker so why DON’T I DESERVE a good life?

    When I think about it that way, I just find another reason to attack myself. “What’s WRONG with you?? You’ve got NO RIGHT to feel this way, you’ve had plenty of opportunities to get your life straight. Quit making it all about you. You are so selfish, no wonder nobody likes you.” After a while, you just stop talking out loud about this stuff and you accept that you are just one of the many cursed people out there who maybe, at some point, a long time ago, were foolish enough to believe that you were somehow special or worthy. You will then say in your head, “you’re not like everyone else. That’s just not you. Don’t expect anything. Who did you think you were? Stupid.” Over and over again, hoping to finally stop fighting it and accept your fate on every level. But if I truly accepted it, it wouldn’t hurt as much as it does.

    I think the human spirit must be more resilient than I give it credit for. It keeps fighting to break free of this bondage. Sounds crazy to those who haven’t experienced the debilitating and devastating effects of this disorder but it’s all too real, unfortunately. It sounds like complete self absorption – believe me, as a Christian woman I’m plagued with guilt and shame about that too. My faith wavers because I don’t know how to pull myself out of this pit and the disorder tells me that I don’t even deserve a good relationship with God, so how can I possibly expect Him to help me? So I even hide from God, because He must be so ashamed of me. But if (In my eyes) I don’t deserve God’s help, if therapists shouldn’t really care about me and if I don’t have what it takes to help myself, how do I break this cycle?

    As I see it, there are only two ways out and one of them is not an option for me. I guess I might start by giving this curse a name and figuring out where it started in the first place. As much as I would often like to “give up,” I guess I’m not quite ready to throw in the towel just yet, despite the voices in my head that are saying, even now, “you aren’t that interesting, don’t bother with this little self study.” Otherwise I wouldn’t have done the search for “social anxiety” which eventually brought me to this link.

    Maybe after reading this book, I’ll be able to change a FEW patterns and I’ll get a small reprieve from all the negative self talk. It’s worth a shot.

    Thank you for writing it.

    • Well Chrissie, thank YOU for that vivid first-hand description of extremely negative self-deprecation and the vicious circle of self-criticism and self-inhibition that it creates. Clearly, the bits of your mind that are involved in perpetuating this have got you “stitched up like a kipper” (as we say in these parts).

      I don’t know if you’ve trawled through all the older comments here (they are big and plentiful!), but I’ve given various suggestions over time, which I can quickly summarise here. …Come to think of it, I really should compile them into a FAQ or Q&A to add to the bottom of the article itself.

      Anyway, before I do that, I have a number of thoughts plus some short videos to recommend.

      First: Your self-perception is very, very stuck in the negative. (I doubt that’s news to you.) Now, any thing, person or situation can be viewed in two ways, (1) by focusing on its positive aspects or (2) by focusing on its negative aspects. It’s quite easy for us to do this. We can look at a glass of water and see the upside (“glass half full”), and then looking at it again we can see the downside (“glass half empty”). Notice that both views SEE the same thing objectively – a glass, and the amount of water in it. It’s merely a JUDGEMENT, following the perception, that frames it as either positive or negative. The positive/negative judgement isn’t “the truth” or “an objective fact.” It’s just something our minds project – usually out of blind habit. We forget that we can switch from one way of viewing (negative focus) to another (positive focus).

      What psychologists have recently found is that the order in which we do this matters.

      If we start by taking a positive view of things, it’s very easy for us to then ditch that and slide down to the negative view. But if we start with the negative view, our minds really struggle to then rise up to the positive view. It’s like trying to climb a greasy pole.

      Our minds really do get “stuck” in the downside, in negative ways of perceiving and thinking. It’s like negativity has a gravitational pull which we can barely resist. In fact, the only way to resist the lure of negativity is by making a real, conscious effort to see things in a positive light – much like a rocket has to use a big amount of energy to escape Earth’s gravity.

      It strikes me that you have been anticipating others’ possible negative judgements of you to such an extent that their imagined voice has replaced your own inner voice. What you think to yourself while your mind is ticking over is whatever negativity you can think of that others might say to you, or even just think about you.

      We are biologically programmed to fight or flee or freeze in the face of threats. Mentally, you are continually presenting yourself with threats, and that is debilitating because the fight/flight/freeze response overrides your ability to act any other way. It’s as if you have locked yourself in the prison of your own thoughts.

      The thing is, the key is still in your hands.

      On that note…

      Essential Viewing

      Do you know about TED talks? (Everybody should!) It’s an event where the world’s greatest thinkers, leaders and doers give the speech of their lives to try to change the world. I have selected some that I think will (hopefully) speak to you, one way or another.

      Here’s a great start. This guy talking – unexpectedly – on “The Prison of Your Mind” is inspiring, challenging, and very, very funny. I have written down half of his talk to quote it at other people!

      In “Meet Yourself: A User’s Guide to Building Self-Esteem”, Niko Everett explains that we can build self-esteem and self-confidence by controlling negative thoughts and amplifying positive ones. She shares some simple, practical techniques.

      This 10 minute talk, “Getting Stuck In The Negatives” by social psychologist Alison Ledgerwood, gives a great overview of how our minds get stuck in negative thoughts.

      Two of the very best and most watched TED talks are by Brené Brown, a wonderful psychologist who studies our inner demons such as vulnerability and shame. In the first, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.

      In the second, she delves into shame – again, with great insight, compassion and inspiration.

      And finally, just for sheer glorious life-affirming inspiration:

    • I’m Grateful for these suggestions, and appreciate your generosity in sharing your work Barry. Wishing you every blessing 🙂 P

    • Hey Chrissie ,,you’re not alone…did the book help? I’d like to know since you have described a lot of what I do. In case this is of help, I am currently in a support group which is called STEPPS…strategic therapy for emotional predictability and problem solving…it has increased my awareness about how I think negatively, and how I am triggered, due to distorted cognitive filters, which were learned. We learn methods to manage our emotional intensity, and that isn’t just anger by the way, it’s any emotion that goes too intense like sadness…Another angle I’m pursuing, which might be helpful to you too, is Addiction to Perfection, by Marion Woodman. It dispels some of the myths we have about what God intended for humans. I wish you well. P

    • Praying you are well.
      Relating deeply as sever agoraphobia and other serious effects have taken their toll in and over my life because of this. Makes me want to reach out to others but then, well, you know…
      My children are 23, 19 & 16…
      I understand COMPLETELY what you were saying. God Blessed Them to have mothers who will be there and help them SEE themselves should this take root in their lives. God Bless You and Make His Face SHINE upon you.

    • I could’ve written your response precisely as you did, but it would be me describing me. I’m a listener and have heard others say similar things about themselves. Seems many are stuck in this struggle of esteeming ourselves less and others more than ourselves.

  16. Wow, this was actually pretty scary to read. So much of this rang true for myself. I’m so glad I found this site. For one, I think I need therapy. 2, I don’t know how to go about that.

    • Hi – they (therapists) usually advertise themselves in local magazines. And there’s always Google. Unless of course you were joking, in which case forget what I just said 🙂

  17. Can all of this be situational? Can our dark tendencies be made worst by difficult circumstances? I wish there was a “one size fits all” attitude of self confidence, regardless of whether you are in a happy or difficult period in life. I try to support myself by thinking I am only this low because of all of the problems I’m having right now (job relocation, have to sell a house and move, elderly parent with Alzheimers, empty nest) and that when things improve I will be a happier person. My husband counters this by saying everyone has problems all the time, but come on, I really do have a lot on my plate right now.

    • Yes, situations exacerbate our negative states and traits. But there’s a complex interaction between states/traits and the situations we experience.

      On a purely psychological level, our dark tendencies affect our behaviour and our behaviour affects what sort of situations we then experience. For example, a person who is in a depressed state or who has a depressive personality trait will be relatively inactive, pessimistic and solitary. As a result, they won’t be imagining, pursuing and creating opportunities for happiness as often as someone who is in a more positive state, or has a more positive outlook.

      But getting out of a negative place and into a positive place is not easy — it’s much easier to go from a positive place to a negative place. It requires a deliberate choice and commitment. For more on this, see the “Getting stuck in the negatives” TED video (in a comment above – or here:

      Your husband sounds like he may have a Stoical attitude, or alternatively perhaps he is just staying out of touch with his own negative feelings and therefore resists you expressing yours.

  18. Thanks for this informative article. Well written and speaks a lot of truth.

    It’s a horrible feeling that is only gets worse. I had a good upbringing.
    Even so, I self-deprecate myself. Since I am a perfectionist, I often criticize small things, mainly social situations (pretty much the only thing I am very bad at are social situations, for different reasons), that I do. I don’t criticize other people, however. To make up for what I call “failures”, I turn my productive levels on maximum. I work harder than before, trying to forget the criticism, the embarrassments. I withdraw, don’t like being around other people.

    Of course this has lead me to become quite skilled in what I do, but at the same time it gnaws at my soul. Every single day my mind reminds me of the mistakes I’ve done, and from the perspective of others, these would be very trivial mistakes. I try to quell them, but it is very difficult thing to do. The only relief is when I am buried deep in hours of work/art, or playing games or going outside. Going outside does make it better, but as soon as I am home, the feeling of being eaten is back again until I do more work and let my mind put a hold on it.

    Well, I hope for the best for all who are in a similar situation and someday eventually gain the power to release themselves from the cage. Good to have pages like this to help us identify and work towards bettering ourselves. It doesn’t have to be like this.

  19. Been self-depricating for as long as I have know what the word meant and probably even longer but always thought it was a good thing almost as good as humility and I have a loathing for prideful and arrogant people, but thanks be to God for me having the ability to afford a phone that allows me to Google, as do not have the funds or knowledge to afford and operate a computer, now realize this is more of a character FLAW than a humble trait. Now 50, my cousin ,whom l adore, has asked me what happened to that adorable fun loving child who now, (in my mind is just a humble human being)is a bitter, unhappy, borderline angry at the world, old fart. So thanks for your article/definition it makes me realize I need help. THANK YOU! 🙂

    • Not sure if I should say “you’re very welcome” or “I’m sorry about that” 🙂
      Thanks Tim

  20. I have been through 2 failed marriages both very different an both exes had there own ways of making me feel inadequate both were abusive in some way now that I am married for the third time and to a very wonderful man who I never feel I deserve I always feel like he can do so much better than me, I always tells me and everyone else what a wonderful wife I am and that he is very lucky to have me but I just tell him he can do better. I have always said I was just humble but now I think it is more than that

    • I guess because it’s more to do with “why am I here?” and also the least likely to cause any harm (karma) to others.

  21. The internal mantra “I am safe” helps defuse this energy.
    As does remembering that each life cycle comes with its own lessons.
    An education brings much insight and encouragement; Ageless Wisdom is given in limitless forms. See: The Michael Teachings, Alice A Bailey, etc.
    A psychologist takes one to a certain point, then one must dig deeper on their own. Each will find what is right for him/her. And, yes, parts of the Path are with great struggle as well as great reward.
    Self-dep remains part of my make up, yet it rarely rarely over powers me at this stage due to the inner work done as a result of pursuing an Ageless Wisdom education.
    In companionship ….

  22. This makes so much sense to me…..for my whole life I’ve been wondering what’s wrong with me, why I can never manage to do any of the things in life that I know I want. I’ve always had issues holding on to relationships….I’ve had so many guys tell me how annoying i am because I subtly put myself down constantly. I always just called myself a worrier, but I knew that that description was never adequate, nobody would understand how I actually feel about myself, and that my whole perception of the world had to be different from that of the average joe. I am 18 years old and I feel about forty. I grew up in a house of hoarders who never wanted to take responsibility for their own messes, and younger siblings who I took care of and cleaned up after the best I could. My parents were too lazy to get real jobs so they scrapped metal for pot money and lived off the state for the rest, and I had to help with that too. If I messed up, I got called a lazy brat and a retard. Every day at a young age I tried my hardest to make them happy and achieve clean house, which both proved impossible. As an adult, I know that the messed up way I grew up is the root of my issues, which are socially crippling to me, but I can never manage to relax or just believe for once that I’m worth more than an afterthought. I try to tell myself that my fears and doubts are irrational and to just get over it, stop thinking all the time and just chill and be happy for once! But I found that I don’t know how to do that. All I want is to feel like I’m not an outcast. To live my life and not care so much. I just want to know what it’s like to be truly internally happy with myself but I feel like I’m the biggest screwup that was ever born, and nobody should waste their time caring about me because there’s nothing there anyway. Should I seek help or is there an easier way to overcome these things?

  23. Hello hello!
    My biggest fear is inadequacy, and I think my chief trait is self depreciation (not sure! Like you said, it’s hard to tell). But instead of belittling myself and my work to others, I only ever belittle myself to myself, if that makes sense… So I’m always telling myself that people will scrutinize my work or how I look or my personality, but instead of giving up or not trying, I’m kind of a perfectionist, because I want my peers to see me as creative, smart, and bubbly. I also don’t really ever say the phrases in the misconceptions section… My thoughts are more like “if I weren’t so shy, then people would see the real me” or “I need this essay to be fantastic or people won’t think I’m smart enough” or “I have to look my best or nobody will like me or take me seriously”… Like if I’m good at something and care about it, I need to be really good at it before I show it to anyone, but I really like showing off work I’m proud of and I really like teaching things I’m interested in to other people. I like giving my opinion when I think it’s a good one, but if I don’t think I could add anything to a conversation, I don’t, because I can’t really handle people seeing any of my flaws. I really really care what people think of me, but instead of hiding myself away, I hide behind a face… I have a really hard time in social situations because I don’t want people to see through it…

    I read the section on arrogance and parts of it reign true for me, while the rest feel like the opposite of me… I wont let people see my innermost vulnerablities, (which is why I have my voice of self-depreciation and my perfectionist qualities) but I love poking fun at things I’m bad at: like singing or push-ups. I would never belittle anyone. Ever. But the childhood of arrogance hits home.

    Is it possible to have self depreciation as my primary and arrogance as my secondary (or vice versa) even if they’re opposites? Or do I have my traits wrong? Please help!

  24. I read this article and it all rang true. I’ve always felt as though I was different from everyone else and rarely feel at ease in social situations. After some thinking (I do a lot of that) I came to the conclusion that it was due to being bullied pretty heavily throughout school and being depressed and borderline suicidal. I think being constantly told that I was inadequate has had an impact on me.

    I’m in university now and I have quite a few friends but I’ve always struggled to find relationships or connect with people on a deep level. I think this is due to always having my guard up, and like the article said, trying to stop people criticising me. I always feel like I am flying under the radar and never saying anything that might offend someone in case they might say something back to me.

    I have recently been looking into meditation and self esteem. I feel as though if you are suffering with this as I am, meditation will help you greatly. It will help you get in touch with reality as it has done for me. It helps you to let go of the story with which your ego is associated and built up through your life conditioning; experiences, relationships etc. And it helps you to let things go and become again as a child who sees the world through untainted eyes.

    I am still only a couple of days into meditation so I still have a long way to go but it has already started to benefit me so I thought as I was on this site I would recommend it and hopefully help other like minded people. —Sorry for rambling on—- I just wrote that and caught myself, apologising again!!

    Anyway give it a try and best of luck for the future!
    P.S: I highly recommend watching this eckhart tolle video, it will help you!

    • Great, thanks Bob – and I fully agree about meditation; it enables you to gradually dis-identify from the false narrative. Also I would highly recommend enlightenment Intensives for a high powered process of dis-identification towards authentic self-realisation.

  25. I have been in two relationships with self depricators. In both instances they did it to get positive attention from me. I feel I have to say “Oh no, you’re not a bad person”. From my observations I agree with the article, but I notice that this behavior of “self deprecating to gain positive comments” not been mentioned. Being with the self depricator can be exhausting, because I am constantly put into the corner of needing to give them praise, and if I don’t, I then feed I to their feeling of worthlessness.

  26. I’m just now realizing that this is almost a perfect description of my personality. I’ve always been this way, yet reading this makes me think, “oh, wow… this is a bad thing? I thought that was normal.”

    Quite simply, I just really don’t see myself as anything special. If people try to compliment me on “talents” I have (if you can even call them that) such as being able to play the piano, or allegedly being able to draw well, I have to just force myself to smile and thank them. I actually used to lecture people and give them a list of reaons on why they are wrong, because I simply can’t stand the feeling of being lied to or told something out of pity. And if they denied that, I would begin arguing with them, trying to get them to see I am obviously a really pathetic person.

    Even being asked out or flirted with makes me excruciatingly uncomfortable, because I cannot see why they would do so. Several times, I’ve kind of repelled people by stuttering out questions, asking them why they would ever want to date me. Did someone ask them to do this? Or maybe they’ve mistaken me for someone else. Maybe they associated certain behaviors with the wrong person. It seems probable to me…

    It’s actually sort of a running gag among my friends that 90% of my humor is self-deprecating, and that the only way I will know how to console you is to tell you to compare yourself to me. You’ll seem a lot better by comparison, and that’s worth something, right?

    I used to arrouse quite a bit of concern from family and friends, because my tactics of self-deprecation would sometimes border of violent. When met with failure, I occassionally would state things like, “A useless person like me should just die already, if they can’t even perform a simple task.” I also highly doubt my attempts at diffusing the previous statements helped when I would follow them up with things like, “I’m just kidding! Other people have much sadder lives than me, so I’m not even worthy of killing myself! I don’t deserve suicide, so it’s okay – nothing will happen!”

    As to where this behavior comes from, I would guess possibly from results of mental illness. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at about 7 years old, and then later with Tourette Syndrome at around 15. Because of this, I had severe issues socializing with people due to anxiety, and was frequently teased for my socially-awkward behavior. There’s also the factor that people often avoided me in highschool, because quite a few of them were probably a little afraid of me or just weirded out in general, due to the fact that I would occassionally have panic attacks where I would pretty much just shut down and cry. I couldn’t help if it was in a public or crowded place, and a randomly hyperventalating, crying girl typically isn’t the most comfotrable thing to most people.

    Currently, I am in my junior year of college, and would like to improve this little flaw of mine before I end up an insecure and anti-social individual for life, but it’s been really difficult. I’ve unsuccessfully tried a few times to fix myself, yet it usually results in failure, and I’ll revert right back to my usual self. Although I’m typically not surprised, because I expected myself to fail from the start…

  27. One thing I see unexamined often in posts across many sites that deal with the psychology and personality is this: the self-depricating individual who is neither humble or arrogant but, due to the deep-seated resentments they have as a result of constant negative feedback as children becomes “over the top”. The people-pleasers. Those who become the life of the party, not by devaluing themselves more, but by attention seeking via extraordinary means to get a ” laugh”, sometimes at the expense of others. They are often identified by others as veering into the self-righteous spectrum, which seems counterintuitive to the definition of deprication overall. Too often, the self-loather is characterized as an introvert who would rather hide than have someone notice them. There are self-loathing individuals who are extroverts, who purposely inject themselves into conversations and situations in order to attempt to “feel better” about themselves. Why the psycho-social community ignores these people in their observances on this topic seem strange to some degree. Is the goal not to help those who self-depricate to be able to identify; and if so, why are all the possible responses to these negative thought processes not being addressed? Your thoughts are welcome.

    • I do agree with you, and it’s something I intend to address soon by adding to the main text.

      All of the chief features (character flaws) can manifest in different ways according to the rest of the individual’s character. In particular, “centering” comes into play. Some people are feeling-centered (emotional, sensitive), some are thinking-centered (intellectual, verbal), some are moving-centered (dynamic, active, energetic). Wen it comes to Self-Deprecation we can see these three sub-types:

      – Emotional self-deprecation: Feeling-centered people are less interactive than the rest; life isn’t something they DO, so much as it’s what happens TO them and AFFECTS them. With self-deprecation, such people tend to be shy, silent, self-hiding wallflowers. They try to disappear from view so as not to attract attention, which they FEEL is bound to be negative due to their supposed obvious inadequacy.

      – Intellectual self-deprecation: Thinking-centered people have an active rational mind and tend to be very interactive verbally. Life isn’t simply what happens but neither it it something they DO exactly. Instead, life is something they constantly negotiate and make sense of through dialogue with others. With self-deprecation, such people tend to be openly agreeable – in fact hyper-agreeable – as a way to stay in “the conversation” despite their sense of inadequacy. The thing they most want to avoid is others’ expressions of negative judgement and criticalness, so they work hard at maintaining a veneer of likability. It’s a bit like ingratiation, the negative pole of the goal of Acceptance. These are the people-pleasers.

      – Physical self-deprecation: Moving-centered people have a kinetic way of being – life is a process of DOING, making things happen by always being on the move. With self-deprecation, such people actively strive for perfection as a cover-up for their supposed inadequacy. In other words, they over-compensate by trying to demonstrate extreme competence at everything – working through the night, over-delivering on projects, hoping that “results speak for themselves” and that their great results will distract attention from their own inabilities.

      I’ll copy the above into the main text at some point. There’s a lot more to be said on these, not just for self-deprecation but all the other negative features as well, and I feel quite inspired to do so, so thanks.

  28. I find myself in some of these descriptions, but not all. For me, the greatest problem is fear: fear that they will see that i am not as good as i should be; fear that they will discover or think that i am just a child (i am 37 but until very recently when i am in public i felt like a child); fear that they will see that i can’t/don’t know how to interact with them and that i am weird (and i really can’t interact with them in smalltalk, since i find these subjects so absolutely uninteresting and alientaing from true substance and true communication); fear that they will never respect or listen to me; fear that once they see i am weak they will attack me.
    Of course childhood can be blamed for this paralysing fear. But what i would like to know is if there are any strategies of breaking free from this fear, of breaking the wall. Now i rationally see this as a parasite feeling, like a phobia of needles (i have that too lol), something you can’t control and strikes in when the stimuli are there. Lately i’ve been trying to act as if i don’t see how they perceive me or to accept their perception as rightful. I am werid and a social freak, as I’ve been told. I am trying to force myself to participate in small talk and even to speak in a group without being asked. If i didn’t have this fear, i know that i could do all these normally. I think i need recognition and maybe a job with authority, so that i can see that peolpe can respect and listen to me.
    Anyway, if you have any suggestions on how to overcome this, please share.

  29. Well, to start things off, my traumatic experience was my dad committing suicide two years ago when I was 13. In the middle of a very sad divorce between him and my mother. Needless to say, it sent shockwaves through me. From then on out, things went downhill, especially with the relationship between me and my mother. She was a hypocrite, and constantly left the house to go on trips with her boyfriend she got together with after divorcing Dad. She didn’t care about my sister and me, and when she actually noticed our existences, she would demand that we respect her more and that she’s the best thing since sliced bread, making awful assumptions that are ALWAYS wrong yet she constantly thinks they’re fact. Now these days, we don’t even talk unless she tells me to do chores. That’s it. And from that, I just felt like my own mother wishes I was gone so that she could be by herself with her boyfriend with no interruptions. So, if my dad just decided to straight up ABANDON me and my family, and if my own MOTHER doesn’t even pretend to care about me half of the time, how can anyone else love me? I just ask myself, why WOULD anyone like me? Sure, I’m pretty nice and I try to be an optimist and I like to talk and share stories, but it’s not enough to keep anyone for lifetime when all I can think to myself is, “They’re just going to leave me, so what’s the point?”

    So, you can also kinda begin to see my views about love. I just don’t think it’s out there. At least, not for me. Every relationship has to come to an end, there’s no question to it. Even if I come across the happiest couple who lived together for who-knows-how-long, I still say to myself, “It’s going to end. It ALWAYS ends.” This does stem more from the divorce rather than my mother, but it’s still there. My cynicism on love just goes through the roof sometimes. I mean, I’d love to have a relationship, but what’s the point if we’ll just break up and the experience will leave me to move on all over again? The very thought of that just makes me want to disappear and move on to another life where these problems don’t exist.

    Now these days, I can’t see a whole lot of good in myself. I have had multiple people compliment me and say that I’m pretty, but I always brush it off and think that they’re not serious or that they’re just being WAY too polite. I love drawing, and while I am decent at it, whenever a friend of mine gushes over my work, I IMMEDIATELY point out a million small flaws in it. When I write and my TEACHER gushes over my work, I just look at my words and think they’re stupid and childish. I freak out over one dumb error.

    I don’t know, it’s not like I can really talk to anyone about it because they’ll just brush it off as ‘teenage hormones’. I just feel like it’s more than that, you know? Sometimes I even question if my counselor takes me seriously. I just feel isolated from the people around me when I feel like this, and I even doubt myself plenty of times, always worrying that it’s just something stupid. Any advice? It’s not like I can really leave the house, seeing as I’m under 18…

    • @SomeRandomAnimeFan
      I know it has been a few months since you posted, but out of ALL the posts here, yours has hit me the hardest. I guess for multiple reasons… Others were closer to my situation, but yours shows a warranted sense of abandonment since both of your parents cannot be here for you. Also, you still are a child and yet, you see things for what they are. You are wize beyond your years my friend.

      Also, you had the most clearly painted picture with your words. Many adults struggle with finding the right words to describe their situation and the hardships they face.

      Plain simply, your mom sucks. And that is not your problem, that is her problem. Yes, it’s true that at your age you can’t do anything about it yet, but your sense of humor is brilliant (I LOVE the since sliced bread comment) and in awful situations, everyone can use a little humor.

      Also, you ARE a gifted, talented writer and your art is probably much better than you give yourself credit for. You sound like a tortured artist, I know a few in my lifetime and the sucky part is – they always feel inadequate, misunderstood, misrepresented, out of reach of normal… But the amazing works that come out of it, whether it be playwrights, portraits, poetry, photography, sculpture, street art, music – the world needs your form of expression.

      I am sorry to hear about your dad too. I think that far too often our children suffer the consequences of our bad decisions. It is not your fault, but it has become your problem. These are things to keep in mind as you get older and may decide someday to have children as a conscious decision or even become a mentor to children in adverse situations.

      I know it sucks that your mother is choosing the fun choice right now instead of the the responsible one, but even though you feel abandoned at least she isn’t around to take it all out on you and your sister. You and your sister need to stay close, you will ALWAYS have each other. You both need to just be respectful to your mother for now – not for her sake, but for your own peace. Kill her with kindness, in life you will find yourself in this situation quite often – so in reality, your selfish mother is truly preparing you for life.

      I have a great sense of love and admiration for you even though I have never met you, for your courage of trying to heal from your traumas so young in life. Please know that you are capable of giving and receiving love. If only for now it being a sisterly love, that is such a huge thing that not everybody has. Not everyone is equipped to deal with what you are going through, but you may find a mate who is ready to take on SomeRandomAnimeFan full heartedly. I know you are probably guarding yourself from romantic relationships, but sometimes a trusted friend we don’t see as our romantic equivalent turns out to be the love interest who totally “gets us” in more ways than we thought possible.
      Please take care and be well.

    • Shrinking an over-sized ego with a sense of humility is fine. Belittling yourself isn’t the way to authentic humility, however. Humility is being mindful of one’s ordinariness and and accepting that.

  30. I’m 43 yrs old wife and mother. A long time ago I used to have a job I was good at (I was a horse riding instructor) and competed in show jumping competitions. It was something that came naturally to me and I gained recognition for my accomplishments; in short, it was a source of pride. It was all I was good at it.
    Then, I gave up my horse riding carreer and drifted away from the industry all together in order to raise my family and support my husband in his career. Now às a military spouse for 19 years I have lost all sense of worth, all sense of identity, and the confidence and feelings of worth I felt way back then has vanished.
    Anyway, I recently returned to the workplace. Not doing a job I love, but a job that has allowed me to contribute financially to my family’s income. I’m working in retail management. I don’t hate my job as much as I hate how I feel and how difficult I’m finding it dealing with corporate america. I do my best. I put in a lot of emotional and physical effort to be the best at what I do. But despite 2 recent promotions, my feelings of inadequacy have not dissipated. I know I’m hard on myself when I screw up paperwork or whatever and I struggle with the fact that I’m not the best at what I do. I want to be as great at this job as I was when I was an instructor and knew my stuff.
    This is getting long-winded and I apologise for that. Bottom line: I’m no longer “great” by my own standards. I do an OK job but I don’t get the same feeling of personal accomplishment nor the recognition I enjoyed when I was at the top of my game working in the horse industry. As a result, I struggle daily with mounting feelings of inadquacy, doubt in myself and the debilitating realisation that I’m nothing special and it’s making me so very depressed, and hurting my confidence. I don’t have what I used to have: a strong sense of my worth and value. I’m flailing in a way that’s hard to explain.
    One upon a time, I was “great,” now, I’m just working a job that offers little in the way of reward, and certianly not one that makes me fulfilled.
    I’m depressed. Thanks for listening and if you have any insight or suugesrions that might help me with this I would be so grateful.
    Yours in Appreciation, Molly.

  31. So i feel…useless. I feel like i don’t deserve to live and the world would be better off without me. I hate myself, I’m insecure about everything about myself. People say I’m smart, kind, funny, beautiful…I can’t ever bring myself to believe them. But people haven’t been complimenting me lately and I’ve been feeling better cause i feel like people finally are understanding that I am useless and I shouldn’t be lied to. I still don’t understand how i even have friends.

    But ever since i met my friend, imma call him Jake, i have been having to belittle myself a lot more often cause he believes that i am funny, smart, beautiful, and a good person. Like last night, we were texting and he said that a guy might be interested in me, and i started laughing because i know that no one will ever want to date me. I already accepted the fact that I’ll be forever alone. I told him “Yea right. Like anyone would want to date me. Im really ugly.” And then he kept telling me that i was “stunningly beautiful” and anyone would be lucky to just look at me.

    I don’t really know, i mean i kinda felt good with the compliment, even though I didn’t believe one word of what he was saying. Jake always try’s to cheer me up whenever I’m feeling down. One time he went as far as to even think of giving up our friendship and having me hate him so I don’t have to worry about him. So i can have one less person to worry about. Of course i told him that would do nothing and stop right then and there.

    As you can see, i belittle myself a lot. I always put myself as unimportant. You might even call me selfless. I help and care for my friends and family, but I don’t let them see how i feel. I don’t believe i am worth being cared for or worrying over. I don’t want to tell them how i feel because my problems aren’t important. I feel like if i only told them one, then it would look like I’m seeking out for attention and make me look, and feel, weak. To be honest I don’t know what to do. I really do hate this feeling. And i feel stupid because i feel all of this and im 14.

    Well, thank you for listening. I appreciate it a lot.

  32. Here is my current issue, I really need to write a blog. My dad and my mom were 20 and 16 when I was born. I have been told many times I was the mistake. Well at 10 they split and I bounced back n forth, w one or the other holding the ” I’ll kick you out” over you, so yr always on eggshells. Nothing causes more stress, depression, anger and resentment. I was a good child, my dad’s parents did alot for me, BC as I found out later, they said my parents didn’t want me. I graduated on honor role, had a job thru most of high school. My dad was the type who beat you and made you lie bout injuries. Well when I hit 16 and was 6 4 and 250, the hitting stopped. I ended up working a series of high money jobs, which my mom was jealous, my dad didn’t care. I had art work that win awards, my graduation, etc. Never went. Found out he was upset at me, cause his parents did for me and I guess not him.well now he is ” Christian”. I didn’t speak to him for a long time. I ended up on drugs, on the streets, but I made it, over a year clean. Pretty much no family involvement. Well I started speaking w my dad in late spring, when my sister said he always asked bout me. He missed out, on purpose, his 8 yo granddaughter, my baby, and fiance’s, etc. Well he asked bout drugs n all and I said sorry for taking a bottle of pain meds 2 years ago. He never said sorry for anything. Well I’ve been thru worse, so I let it go on the urging of fam. His wife was dying of cancer, I came over to help clean, etc. Well she passed and he invited me to move in. I’ve got an open SSD case going w attached, and figured, this might be okay, give me time. Well my gf was also invited to move in. We helped, did things. Well as time went on, anything negative that happened was soon my fault. Something went missing, I took it. Always, and if he was wrong never said so. I went to his church and went to a recovery group there. I noticed that alot of people seemed weary of him, but he was the “best” when he bought something for the church or gave to others. He ” played” church like before. It got to where he D tell others to take me, I’m lazy, etc. I’m like what? I’m always doing something. Well I spoke to the head of recovery groups and he said he and others noticed how he spoke about me, also how I was growing and he just was. He once had that guys wife over to get somethings, and he started, she spoke up for me. He didn’t like that, and would ask did I know functioning drug addicts, I said many, he just scoffed and said they were scum, and he paid taxes and did what’s right only to watch these people take. He’d say things like I’ll never fully recover and I’ll need aide forever, or I was “far” from where I needed to be, when I asked he’d literally tell me to shut up. My gf ended up in jail and I seen he wrote her, I asked what bout, he said I’m telling her I’m kicking u out. I was dumbfounded. I said what gives u the right to get into my relationship like that, u can tell me whatever, but he knew it would upset her. Well I have sickle cell, yes I’m white, and it got super bad the last few days, even now I don’t want to barely move. Well of course he thought I was ” playing” even though my mom had dealt w me being sick and is a pharmacist, and told him it was bad. Well we didn’t go to Thanksgiving. My dad , the day before said why don’t I get my haircut and get new clothes and “try” to look human. I asked why he’d say things like that, cause usually upbeat, support him going out, hung out w him, and he would notice we were having fun n freeze. He told me he was joking, I said well u say it alot. I got up Thanksgiving running fever hurting, feet swollen, and accidentally cut the dog trimming his nails, which again we be turned on me, cause I did I’d take the dog in, the day I wanted, he didn’t. Well he asked for towels. I got a pop and went to go upstairs, and he says to me in the smartest tone, well can u at lest help me clean up? I said yes, but he didn’t have to ask like that, I’d always help. Well no sleep last night, called my drs on call. Had a letter for my gf, for holiday. I get up, take it to mail box and he is staring at me when I come in, I said good morning and asked if he was okay. He said I was the laziest sob he knew, and I’m like wtf? Where did this come from? He said the most important thing to me is my gf. I said she’s not most, but alot yeah, I told him bout bruising and sickle cell issues, he says, I’m sure that wasn’t a letter to yr dr, I said no I had it for Dana, no mail on holiday. He told me to pack my shit and leave. I hate this more than anything since he knows I’m stuck, but never says anything bout success, only failures. He said I ate all 3 packs of pop tarts, cause I could barely eat and it was easy. He could have said let me get one, he brought up dog thing and said it never happened if I keep my promises. And a T-shirt I bought him, was sent to my old address, sent back, and I called today to make sure it’s coming, they said yes. He said he’d never see it, now he won’t, for real. I finally yelled and said if you don’t like someone’s opinion or answer you tell them they are lying or shut up. He starts yelling for me to shut up. Basically his Mo is poor me, I always help, why does no one like me, then shit like this. I’ve seen him do stuff just to hurt people but act like he didn’t know. I told him, call police, try to kick me out, I get mail here and have been here nearly 3 months, evict me. I’m tired of walking on eggshells. I’ve asked him to my therapy sessions. He won’t go. Said something bout all my art a few weeks ago, but never went to anything. I’m recording his next few outbursts, and when I get ready to go, I’ll play it in front of his church, I swear. I’ve tried, and tried. It’s like I told him, you can talk to me, and tell me what’s up. He goes like when u took yr sandwich upstairs? I laughed and again said I was sick and he was napping, he got mad at the answer. Idk what to do anymore. He is horrible. There is more like attempted suicide by if in front of kids, going to coke dealer down street from where we lived. The beatings where I was actually hurt, once cause I wanted to visit my mother..all my friends hate him, don’t come round BC of how he talks to me, my gf used to like him, but now sees how he has treated me. Also I think he has a thing for her. She’s 6 ft tall, all legs, powder white, green eyes and auburn hair. When shed get coffee in morn w short shorts on, lil top w belly exposed and just messy enough to be cute hair. Cause he has said somethings that makes me think he got into her clothing dr. Esp undies. I can’t wait to finally do what everyone always says let it go. I had over a year clean for first time, still clean, thought he would be proud, instead indirectly calls me scum. No more. He isalways saying I’m all devil, devil music, devil looks. He says I need to change my music, I go what do I listen to, his response was don’t be a smart ass, all that screaming, and I say the last time I played anything like that was a month ago. Usually old blues, Marc Bolan, Bowie, fax Riggs, so I can learn how to play better again told me to shut up and put on this positive song by Jon cougar in which he speaks of killing himself. And I know it’s holidays, he is depressed, it’s beyond any argument at this point. He invited me to move in, as my bff sky says, to have someone to fuck with, and I don’t like him.

  33. Hi there. Thanks for this article, it was enlightening. 🙂
    Self-deprecation is something I’ve struggled with for a long time. I wish I could remember when it started (that would probably help me determine *why* it started) but I know it had grown very bad by the time I was 12. By then I was unable to accept any type of compliment. I protested or just quietly accepted – either way, it was like water off a duck’s back. It never really sunk in. I could never let myself consider that that was how they really felt about me. In fact, what sunk in the most was the fact that they were kind enough to me to tell me these things. And the nicer people were to me, the more dizzying it was. I just didn’t feel like I deserved this kindness. So over the next few years (coupled with growing depression) I slowly alienated myself from my friends. That was probably the worst thing I’ve ever done, because now, 4 years later, I still haven’t been able to fully recover the friendships I pushed away. 🙁 And all of that was because I didn’t feel worthy. I just cannot bring myself to believe that I will ever be enough, for anyone. It’s very difficult to live with, but it feels so, sooo deeply ingrained into me, that it feels like it is a central part of me.
    The thing is: I have no idea why I’m like this!! Both this article, and psychologists I’ve been to, have both said the same thing: there’s a reason, probably coming from some influence on me when I was very young. I’m sure it’s true. But I just can’t find that influence. My mum and dad both love me very much, and have always, even though they divorced when I was very young and there’s a lot of problems between them haha. My stepmum… well, we’ve had some issues, I guess, but she’s always looked after us and has never been abusive or outright nasty. I’ve always been a perfectionist, since I was very little…?
    I guess I have some hope that I can change, because I’m still only 16, and being a child, I’m more malleable, right? But it just seems so unshakable. It seems like the surest thing in the world. It feels like the certainty of my disbelief in my self – not just doubt, but disbelief – is one of the things I can most rely on to be true.
    Sorry for spilling my life story out! It feels kind of cathartic though. I’ve never really gone into this kind of detail before… I’ve been meaning to write it all out but I haven’t yet.
    If anyone has any advice… that would be nice 🙂

    • Hi Javi

      Well, comparing with myself, I’ve had self-deprecation for almost (but not quite) as long as I can remember. I was raised as an only child, so it was only at school, interacting with other kids my age, that I gradually came to perceive myself as inferior to everyone else. Other kids just seemed to know how to be, how to interact with each other, what to say and do. They were assertive, loud, demanding, insistent. I was quiet, passive, sensitive, a lonely introvert, and every interaction was a kind of struggle. So I soon got the impression that I was “abnormal”, unable to function properly, and that became my fundamental feeling about myself. I grew up with a feeling that “I don’t know how to be, therefore I don’t deserve to be here, and everyone can see that, so I’d better stay hidden.”

      And then I began to distrust anyone who said good things about me because either they were mocking me in an underhand way or they were just mistaken. Those were the only options I could see.

      Anyway, as Louis Walsh would say, “You’re only 16.” And the good news is that you’re already at step one on the way to getting on top of this. Step one is self-awareness, being aware of it, being able to recognise it in yourself, able to name it.

      I didn’t recognise it in me for many years. I just believed it as true. I became very shy in my 20s, but got through it using the “fake it til you make it” trick. I used to figure out ways to look more confident and act more extravert than I actually felt (alcohol was often involved); I used to rehearse conversations in advance because I could never think on the spot without my self-dep leaving me tongue-tied. So I developed a persona (mask, public image) that made it seemed like I had self-confidence, even though I had very little.

      The problem with a persona is that it’s fake, and you know it, and then you constantly fear being caught out. So I had occasional anxiety attacks throughout my 20s because of this.

      Approaching my 30th birthday I felt that enough was enough. I had to stop being fake and get a sense of myself that was true and rock solid. By now I was able to see rationally that my sense of inferiority could not be based on anything real – nobody is really inferior to anyone else in that way.

      I went away for a week on a personal growth retreat. I did three days of exploring the shadow (the unconscious, the parts of oneself that are hidden – which in my case weren’t bad as I’d feared, they were good!); then three days seeking self-realisation using a process called an Enlightenment Intensive. It all worked for me brilliantly. I discovered my core self, and realised that I am totally meant to be here, and that I am totally free to be myself any way I choose.

      This kind of intense self-searching process is probably more than you need to think about right now (but bear it in mind because I’d recommend it anyway as something to do in future). But what I hope you’re getting here is that your self-deprecation is not all-powerful, it’s a sort of personal myth, and the more you allow yourself to know your true self, accepting and owning all your best qualities, the less power the myth has.

      Step 2 by the way is self-acceptance. Don’t hate yourself for having this thing; we all have something. It’s just your fearful inner child and it doesn’t know any better. It ok for you to have that aspect to your personality. We cannot change the way we are until we accept the way we are. What we resist persists!

      Hope this helps,

  34. This was really encouraging, It’s so refreshing to see people going through the same mental cycles. I feel less alone. I’m going to try to turn up my volume on the positives.

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