As social human beings we are generally pretty prone to undervaluing ourselves. On a surface level, it’s a form of humour (especially for us Brits); a means for complying with social norms; of appearing relatable and likeable. We frown on anyone boastful or proud whilst outwardly belittling or apologising for our own achievements and fully appreciating those of others. This is the social norm.
Unfortunately for many, if not most of us, this self-deprecation takes place to an even more detrimental effect on the inside.
We hear a lot about this in relation to how we see our own appearance; highlighting and magnifying our flaws whilst comparing to the hoards of supposed-perfection on social media.
But actually, self-deprecation comes in many other, less discussed forms too. Our perception of our own abilities for example: we persistently undervalue our talents, our social skills, even our likability. I mean, for crying out loud… what gives us the right to tell ourselves that we’re not likeable when surely that opinion belongs solely to other people!?
For me, at this current time (for believe me, I’ve experienced my fair share of the above in the past), I’m actually relatively happy with my appearance. I think I’m fairly interesting and am pretty confident in my skills. I mean, I’ve actually started to tell people that I dream of getting into modelling… jeez I wouldn’t have let something like that slip previously – far too many connotations of self-confidence attached to modelling! Still, I’m not 100% confident in any of these things either, but I’ve come along way.
No, the biggest issue of self-deprecation for me right now is who I see myself as deserving a relationship/friendship with. Literally what kind of people are, or rather are not, in my ‘league’. That goes for friendships as well as romantic partners.
This isn’t something I’ve ever really admitted out loud (or I guess even to myself until recently), but over recent years, I’ve been genuinely surprised by the friendships and relationships I’ve found myself in. For heavens sake, even that turn of phrase undervalues myself, for surely I’ve played an active part in forming and nurturing these relationships.
Sometimes, I have reflective moments where I’m just like ‘honestly why does this person want to spend time with me? What do I give them that other people can’t?’ And truthfully, I don’t tend to have an answer. This is particularly the case in a romantic relationship: I find myself wondering why my partner has chosen to share themselves with me of all people. Especially when I often to see them as so much higher and simply better than me.
God it sounds so awful to say that out loud… but these are the thoughts so many of us internalise constantly. How damaging is that!?
Okay story time… this is the tale of how I met my ex (yes, the same ex I spoke about having to say goodbye too thanks to circumstance). It’s quite a classic tale really: I walked through the door (into the gym in my case) and saw a man across the room. I felt an instant connection and attraction. (Even facing away from me, as he was… call it an ‘energy’ or very good shoulders, whatever). I spent my whole (extra long) workout trying to figure out how to start a conversation with my dream-guy, to absolutely no avail. Fundamentally, I guess I just assumed that somebody like him wouldn’t really want to hear it from someone like me anyway. He was way out of my league, or so I told myself. Anyway, it turns out that was a load of rubbish because in the end, he struck up a conversation with ME. Whaaaaaat!? To this day I find that totally bizarre.
But you know, I simply cannot go through life on the reactive; waiting for the other to give me ‘permission’ and let me know that I’m good enough. None of us can.
What’s more, getting into a relationship or friendship with this mindset is so destructive. An insecurity surrounding your warped sense of deserving is an imbalance, plain and simple. Everyone knows imbalance makes partnerships impossible. In a relationship built on this imbalance, you will always struggle to be your true self, constantly striving to try and be different or ‘better’. You will never be able to question or have serious conversations when you feel the other is in the wrong, to be honest, you’ll probably be blinded to the fact they’re in the wrong. Ultimately, unfortunately, they are never going to fully respect you because you intrinsically hold such disrespect for yourself.
This is a harsh truth. So we need to work on this because we all deserve balanced, happy and beautiful social connections. This positive deserving is a mindset we need to find a way to adopt. For only then will we feel secure; fortunate yes, but not passively lucky.
On a connected note, you should watch this video. I was particularly affected at the point where he asks ‘Would you feel comfortable reading what you just read to me (harsh comments written by a girl about herself) to your sister but as if it was about her?’. Honestly, just consider how abusive and damaging our internalised self-deprecation is.
Anyway, as ever I’m here to provide the food for thought. I’d love to hear your thoughts – have you had similar feelings? Do you have a similar story? I really would love to hear. Ax