when self-deprecation becomes insulting

Lately I’ve been digging deep and as much as sometimes I hate posting my struggles and cringe as I hit the publish button, there is the reality that I know I’m not alone in soul searching and identity seeking. 


Last week I had a conversation with a good friend that caused me to have a life epiphany and made me a bit paranoid actually although excited to have this realization of a place of needed growth… I realized that in a strange way that I had allowed my self-deprecating tendencies to exist in a pseudo humility, which opened me up to lacking some boundaries verbally with people. ie- I rarely take myself too seriously so why should anyone else?

I’ll explain- You see, I have an unfortunate combination of being both self-deprecating and  being sarcastic. I feel playful banter is my love language to show others that I like them, it’s always meant in the best possible way but, on occasion, my mouth can jab a bit sharper than my heart means it.

What triggered this was a recent conversation with this person where when I left the time together, I felt an odd sense of heaviness.  Thinking later about it and still feeling the same way, I decided to send a quick email just apologizing if I had said anything hurtful regarding one of the topics we had been discussing where I joked about their lack of knowledge in the area. That kind of sounds mean just typing it out but I genuinely said it in a playful way… I promise!

They responded back with a thank you for apologizing, that they were still getting used to my good intentions mixed with verbal jabs.

I was a bit crushed- it’s the friendship implosion of love languages- if how I show friendship to the other person is insulting, the friendship can’t hardly work, right? To be constantly aware and editing yourself is hard- fine and good for work relationships but to have to be that way with a friend is exhausting.

But I realized something else as I read their email- the best kind of friendships are ones that push you to grow in the parts of you that need to be changed and to have someone that was honest enough to be that real is rare.  I don’t take myself seriously- which is mostly a good thing, but I realized that I had crossed into a dangerous place of not acknowledging my person as someone of value subconsciously.

Do you ever do that? In an effort to remain humble and avoid the ugliness of pride, you fall into another ditch?

I had failed to be the person that I’m called to be- an encouraging and supportive person. I think we are all called to be leaders wherever we are and understanding our faults and being vulnerable enough to share them is a hard place to be. We feel if people really knew us that perhaps they wouldn’t like us so I allowed myself to be uncaring in an attempt to protect myself from exposure.

I can be sensitive and paranoid about how others perceive me as well- as I told a friend earlier, the problem with my paranoid thoughts and self doubts is that I see myself try to control how others perceive me- then I’m not being authentic which annoys me and I get frustrated with the performance- which makes me mad at the people around me that make me feel that who I am isn’t good enough.

This friend made me realized that I was accidentally projecting an image that wasn’t real- even though my heart was mostly in the right place, my influence on others is greater than I realize and I can’t allow an almost prideful attempt at humility to exist in myself.

Patterns are hard to break. Cycles are hard to get out of.  But it’s worth it. The end result of a healthier outlook and inner peace are worth fighting for. That’s just the thing- as painful and difficult the journey to betterment, it’s something that will never be regretted.

Do you struggle in your identity? What truths have you learned along your journey?

I’d love to hear them, either commented or emailed, community is soul lifting.




  • Stacia

    This is a lesson I’ve had to learn over the years (and am still learning). Sarcasm is my native tongue but I know I’ve burned friends in the past with the verbal jabs and hate that. I’ve been studying Proverbs lately and want to allow the Holy Spirit to use the verses on the wise use of our tongue to convict me and teach me how to better represent Him and love others. Many blessings on your journey! ~Stacia (mom to a little boy with WS :o))

  • http://TheBusyNothings.com Heidi

    Hi Stacia, thanks so much for taking the time to comment, it means a lot! Yeah, Proverbs is pretty clear isn’t it! :) lol- it’s a hard lesson I’m walking through but I hope my friendships will benefit. Great to know another WS Mom! You are a rock star!

  • Kimberlee

    Oh my goodness I am going thru something similar right now. UGH!! Thank you for your post!