The Line Between Self-Deprecation And Self-Destruction


Are you the type of person who likes to poke fun at yourself? You know: you joke about your weight, or your looks, or your intelligence, or your taste—whatever you perceive might be a “deficit” personal attribute (largely defined by Society, of course).

While I think maintaining a “forced” positive attitude is counter-productive (which I talk about in “On Having A War On Negativity” and “Advocating For A Philosophy Of Failure”), too much of consciously describing yourself in such deprecating terminology—even in the context of a “joke”—could also be really harmful.

Yep, it’s the “we build our own reality” gambit once again.

As I’ve mentioned before, the concept of “building your own reality” is not quite as simple as some people present it. You have to really get to the heart of your True Self first, before you can know what specific reality you want to build. Or else your Ego Self is going to possibly be at cross-purposes with your True Self, and Flow is not going to happen.

But for sure…if you’re aiming to improve/succeed in certain areas in your life…referring to yourself in constant self-deprecating terminology is not going to provide a great foundation.

What brought this up for me was a recent Amy Schumer stand-up special I watched. Schumer is very funny & a great performer, but after I watched her act I just sort of wanted to run to my local bar and get wasted in a big orgy of self-loathing.

That fun drunk orgy did not take place, but it really made me think about the content of her act. And that content largely seemed to consist of two different—but insidiously interconnected—things:

  1. Self-deprecating humor: The biggest thread in this standup special was self-deprecating humor about her weight. That other people perceived her to be immensely overweight (and she’s not even close to that, which becomes problematic in a different way that I’ll discuss later). But also related jokes about her age, looks, and etc.
  2. Getting intoxicated: Bringing a bottle of alcohol on stage, she would periodically go back to the topic of binge drinking or taking pills.

So you get the one-two whammy of self-hatred about one’s appearance, followed by continual advocation of alcohol & pill consumption.

Amy Schumer

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a post about “this comedy should be banned” or anything like that. Her routines are largely funny, her comedy touches upon certain truths about society (there indeed continues to be bias against women—and men too—in regards to weight, especially in the entertainment industry), and listening to her rants can be very cathartic.

But I cannot escape the fact that I felt like shit after that comedy special. I “get” it…other women are “stronger,” that’s great. But how many aren’t? And how many have a history of using intoxicants and etc. to not only deal with insecurity, but as an actual vehicle to stay thin?

And the one thing that kept automatically popping up in my mind as I watched this Schumer special was: “she is creating her own reality.” She is reinforcing this “reality” that she is physically grotesque. And further: this was a reality that she no doubt inherited from other people her entire life & internalized as “real.” And like an “idea virus”—she now passes those beliefs on to others.

Then there is the fact that in terms of weight—like, non-Hollywood Factory weight—Schumer is really not that large. So what happens when women who are heavier than her watch that special? What is the message they are taking in?

I absolutely subscribe to the attitude that what’s funny should be, in the end, each individual person’s business. But I also advocate the position: we must pay attention to what we let into our head. This is an individual responsibility, based on admittedly largely subjective factors.

We must pay attention to what we let into our heads. Are we nourishing ourselves, or are we digging ourselves a deeper metaphorical grave? We must pay attention to how we describe ourselves (both to others and just in our own minds); because we are constructing our own reality.

As I’ve said, this is all our personal responsibility. We do not need to boycott or censor. But we do need to make individual decisions about what is healthy for us. 

More to read about on Butterfly Language:
When I Follow My Heart, Good Things Happen
Why You Should Pursue Your Dream Now
Empathy Vs. Guilt