Sunday, February 23, 2014


By Barry the Scholar
Continued from 2/15/2014


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, and 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 humor, 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 behavior. When it dominates the personality, however, one is said to have a chief feature of self-deprecation.


In the case of self-deprecation, the positive pole is termed HUMILITY and the negative pole is termed 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 recognize 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, it’s a condition of self-inflicted humiliation and degradation. 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.


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

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

  • Do I criticize or belittle myself to others?
  • Do I try to manipulate how others judge me by lowering their expectations?
  • 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 judgments 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 counselor, therapist, pastoral care specialist, or at least a close friend:

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, and 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. {L2G teaches that transformational change of the heart and mind is best accomplished by the renewing power of the Holy Spirit.}

  • 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 judgments.

Inner-healing prayer has proven to be extremely helpful for those of us who struggle with low self-esteem or self-deprecation. If you aren’t familiar to this ministry, A Guide for Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer could be the book you’ve be looking for. Order your copy today using a credit card or check. If you have comments or questions, have experienced inner healing or are in the process, we’d love to hear from you. Just leave your comment (below) or write us at

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