Self-deprecating humor is bad for your self image


Photo credit: Storm Wells

Breanna Henry

I hate myself.

No, like actually.

I hate myself, not necessarily because of some event, or some tragedy that happened to me. I hate myself because … I said so.

During my sophomore year of high school, I started hanging out with a new group of friends. Within that group, we did a lot of self-deprecating humor. You know, playfully saying that you want to jump off a cliff, or that you’re a mistake or that you hate your life. It’s a lot of fun, isn’t it? They’re just meaningless words right, nothing too serious. It’s just a coping mechanism, right? However, what I didn’t realize until my senior year, when I had two panic attacks in my mom’s car, was that my words have a lot more power than I gave them credit for. Turns out, the more I say I hate myself, the more I actually start to hate myself.

By senior year, it became natural for me to tear myself down. I would be in the grocery store and I would drop, I don’t know, a pack of cookies or something, and on my way to pick it up, I would say “ohmygod, I hate my life.” Without thinking. It just slips out. I’ll be scrolling through Twitter and there would be so many self-deprecating tweets. “Hopefully I get hit by a bus so I can get college tuition.” “If this life thing could just hurry up and end already, that’d be great.” And I would like these tweets, not understanding what the negativity is doing to my subconscious.

Starting the second semester of my senior year, I made a goal to start changing my language. Whenever I would say something negative about myself, I would take that thought and flip it. “No, I love myself.” “This isn’t impossible. I can do this.” “I’m not trash. I’m an amazing human being.” I remember doing this around my friends and they would laugh because they are so used to me making negative jokes.

But it’s not a joke anymore.

Words. Have. Power.

Life and death is in the power of the tongue. You can speak life over yourself. Even if you don’t love yourself right now, if you say that you love yourself over, and over and over, then you will believe it. Just like how I used to say that I hate myself over, and over and over, and I actually ended up hating myself even more.

I want a future where my generation stops tearing themselves down for fun. Treat yourself as you would have others treat you. When you think about it, we treat strangers better than we treat ourselves. At the end of the day, you have to live with yourself. You may not see that stranger ever again but you have to live with yourself until you die. If what you say could hurt a stranger’s feelings, imagine what it’ll do to you. Be nice to yourself. Love yourself. Seriously. I know people say that jokingly. But, you are all you’ve got.

Now, I kind of like myself. I slip up every now and then because old habits die hard. And there are days where I really hate myself. But even though I feel that way, I don’t have to reinforce those negative feelings.

I love myself.

I LOVE myself.

I. Love. My. Self.