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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » Responding to self-depreciating jokes or comments?

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Author Topic: Responding to self-depreciating jokes or comments?
Member # 25983

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We have very good threads here on body image and compliments. But I'm pretty sure we've all been in a situation where somebody makes a self-depreciating joke, and some of us don't know how to react. Often, I've found that if laughter follows, the joker will become angry and defendant.

Some of these comments or jokes are merely poking fun at one's own faults, but sometimes, they're cries for attention from somebody with low self-esteem.

So, my question is: What do you think about such comments/jokes? Do you make them yourselves? If you do, how would you rate your comfort with your body? How do you deal with a friend or family member who pokes fun at their faults expecting care or attention?

[ 05-09-2006, 12:57 AM: Message edited by: Miss Lauren ]

Posts: 4636 | From: USA/Northern Europe | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 28696

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I've known my best friend for years, but lately our relationship has been getting a little strained. I think it's because we're both only children, so since we are the closest thing we have to siblings, any potential "sibling rivalry" surfaces in our friendship. Well, one of the ways she does this is by quickly agreeing to any self-depreciating jokes I make. My mom makes a lot of them about herself, so I guess I followed suit.

I went on vacation with her family, and every single time I said something like "I'm an idiot" after I did something silly, she'd agree with a tone of voice that suggested she meant what she said, but was trying to disguise it as a joke.

I would rate my self-esteem (at least, when it comes to my mental capabilities) as being very high, so whenever I say something like "I'm an idiot," it's not really because I mean it or I'm trying to get attention, it's just something that comes out.

I really have a problem with people who make those kind of comments and ARE looking for attention, however. I often compliment people on their appearance/personality, but when someone comes along trying to get attention, I usually ignore what they said and let someone else answer them (if we're in a group) or change the subject if I'm alone with them.

This wasn't really self-depreciating, but one time my mom asked me if I loved her, and that REALLY pissed me off. I have a great relationship with my mom, I tell her I love her every day many times, and she knows that I actually mean it. But she has a tendency to get insecure at times, and rediculous questions like this just make me frustrated. It's like, what, does she think I would tell her I don't love her?

I think questions like that are pretty similar to self-depreciating comments in that they both originate from low self-esteem, and they really aren't the best way to get affirmation. Even though these comments really frustrate me, I try not to let it show and, instead of giving the person who said it a lot of attention right after they said it, I'll just compliment them or let them know I care about them at another point in time.

Posts: 11 | From: here | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 28071

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One thing I do tend to do somewhat often which sometimes comes off as self-depreciating are comments where I'm asking for something or the like. I'll say things along the line of "I don't want to be a bother, but ...." or "I hope I'm not annoying you with this, ..." etc. In drives my boyfriend "If you were a bother/annoying/in the way, don't you think I'd tell you? I'm an honest person, am I not?"

The reason he reacts the way he does is that my self-esteem comes and goes in bouts. One day I'm completely fine, the next I feel that everything that goes wrong is my fault. I was picked on horribly when I was the point where my parents had to seek counceling for me. As a result I had terrible self-esteem until some time in high school...coupled with fairly serious depression that I've never had officially diagnosed. While I'm fine most of the time now, it is something that pops up from time to time, and comments that I make that give the impression that I'm anything but 100% A-ok with myself and who I am concern my boyfriend greatly.

If I do occasionally make jokes that could be considered self-depreciating...they are meant and stated in a tone of voice that makes it very clear that I'm not serious and reflect a specific action I've taken ("wow...I shouldn't have flung my keys across the yard....I guess I'm just an idiot like that though.") My close friends know that I'm an incredibly sarcastic person, and will usually join in playfully and come up with something either in agreement or even more ridiculous (Yeah, you're a truly horrible person flinging things, you could have killed a grasshopper"). The event is then laughed off and forgotten. If my friends make similar statements, I carry on in a similar way they do.

I do think that jokes like that have different intents based on the speaker though. Some people do it just as a way to downplay an "oops" or something by making it a joking matter, like my friends and I. Others are more serious, and are a cry for attention/help or is a way for the person to fish for compliments. And sometimes if you don't know the person well its hard to know which catagory the joke falls into. If I get the idea that its the latter I usually ignore it at the time and try to talk to the person find out how their day has been and if there is anything on their mind. Usually if there is a problem, it comes out one-on-one later, where I'm better equipt to help them anyway.

Posts: 96 | From: Illinois | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 23917

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I do make jokes that put myself down, but they're just that: jokes. I worry sometimes that people think I'm trying to fish for compliments when I do this, but really I'm not. I'd rate my body image as pretty high, but my confidence in myself as a whole is rather lacking. As per other people putting themselves down, if they're joking in a way that you can tell they're just joking, I'll laugh along. But if I think they actually feel bad about themselves (as in the case of a friend of mine who's a brilliant actor, but thinks otherwise), I'll tell them in a no-nonsense voice that what they say isn't true.
Posts: 406 | From: California | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Member # 1207

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I really have a problem with people who make jokes like these ... for a few reasons.

For one, i am a little hypersensitive to it b/c my mother did it all the time when i was growing up, and my sister has recently caught on. You can reassure them 'until the cows come home' and it won't get you anywhere. Why waste the energy? No matter who says it, nine times out of ten i'll just ignore it. If they want to know what i think they can ask me, directly. That is, if they care and are not just venting in my general direction.

Second of all, i tend to take what someone says about themselves and apply it to me. Complaining about your chunky thighs? Oh, well, my thighs are kinda chunky ... What must s/he think of MY body? Not cool and i shouldn't do it, but i do. Attention to others' "flaws" makes me feel the need to compare myself and it's totally unnecessary.

Lastly, I do believe there is a little bit of truth in everything we say and i feel bad when i hear others not happy with themselves. I just want to hug and kiss it all better and i know i can't and it's depressing.

Nursing is a work of heart!
~ unknown

Posts: 7168 | From: Ontario | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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