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5 Steps to Stop Using Laughter with Self-Deprecation

Do you beat yourself up by using laughter with self-deprecation? Do you make negative comments about yourself and laugh about it?

Is it easier for you to laugh about your negative qualities or behaviors than to acknowledge them? Have you ever said, “I laugh at myself to keep myself from crying?”

Society has taught us to use laughter with self-deprecation.We aren’t taught that it’s ok to have difficult feelings.

Instead, we are taught to hide those difficult feelings from others at all costs. Due to that, we learn to use laughter with self-deprecation.

Society has gotten that and so many other things wrong. Click here to read my post Society’s Definition of Strong is Wrong.

How Using Laughter with Self-Deprecation is Harmful

Using laughter with self-deprecation forces us to pretend that we are not in emotional pain. However, doing so only pushes that pain down further and further.

Eventually, it will explode. When that happens, the pain will probably explode as anger towards ourselves and others.

Chances are that, if that happens, you may again use laughter with self-deprecation. You might make a joke about your temper. Have you done that?

Have you made jokes about your temper?

As a redhead, this was super easy for me to do for years. I would lose my temper in grand ways. I would laugh it off as part of having red hair saying, “I can’t help it. That’s just my redheaded temper.”

I never recognized that my use of laugher with self-deprecation was covering so much emotional pain. I truly thought it was just part of my personality. That is never the case for ANYBODY!

How to Recognize When You are Using Laughter with Self-Deprecation

As a psychotherapist, I have worked with numerous clients who are constantly using laughter with self-deprecation. There is not one single person I know who can say they never used laughter with self-deprecation.

Do you have an idea of what using laughter with self-deprecation looks like? Are you guilty of it? In case you aren’t really clear, I’ll give you an example of a woman using laughter with self-deprecation.

Example of Using Laughter with Self-Deprecation

Consider a woman in her mid-thirties. She has spent her entire life using laughter with self-deprecation.

If she talks about jumping from one relationship to another, she laughs. If she talks about people not understanding her, she laughs.

If she feels she is overweight, she makes jokes about her love for food. If she talks about anything that has been a struggle for, guess what? She laughs.

What are You Covering Up When You Use Laughter with Self-Deprecation?

Most people who are using laughter with self-deprecation are unaware of the subconscious, negative effects that has on them. Trust me here, using laughter with self-deprecation is equivalent to telling yourself you don’t matter. So, how do I stop using laughter with self-deprecation?

5 Steps to Stop Using Laughter with Self-Deprecation as a Way to Beat Yourself Up: 

  1. Start recognizing when others are using laughter with self-deprecation. It’s easier to notice the behaviors of others before noticing it with yourself. You will begin noticing others doing this quite often as so many people use laughter with self-deprecation.
  2. Next, start making a conscious effort to notice when you are using laughter with self-deprecation.
  3. Once you can do that, either tell yourself out loud or in your head, “That’s not funny.”
  4. Name the feeling that you are covering up with the laughter and allow yourself to feel that feeling instead.
  5. Continue this process for as long as needed. Keep in mind that this is not a quick process, as you have probably been doing this your whole life and it can take time to change it. So, don’t beat yourself up while working through this process!

Results of the Process

What might it look like when you stop using laughter with self-deprecation? Let’s take a look again at the woman in her mid-thirties who had been using laughter with self-deprecation her entire life.

In her therapy sessions, I began calling her out on the behavior. I would tell her, “That’s not funny,” “I’m not going to laugh with you about that” or “That actually makes me feel sad for you.”

This allowed her to start becoming aware of how often she was using laughter with self-deprecation.

The Healing Journey 

Over several months, I no longer had to “call her out” when she was using laughter with self-deprecation. Any time she was about to do it, she would take a breath and then tell me, “That’s not funny.” Almost immediately, she would be able to actually identify the true feeling.

Like most of us, she was never taught how to express her feelings in a healthy way. Due to this process, she is now so easily able to identify her feelings and process them in the most beautiful, healing way.

She is now able to release the shame around the feelings she used to bypass using laughter with self-deprecation.

Using Laughter with Self-Deprecation is a Self-Defense Mechanism

Using laughter with self-deprecation is always a self-defense mechanism. Don’t beat yourself up during this process! Keep in mind that we develop self-defense mechanisms to keep ourselves emotionally safe.

So, using laughter with self-deprecation was valuable when you were not ready to face your true emotions. I actually have gratitude for many times throughout my life that I was using laughter with self-deprecations.

It allowed me time in my healing journey. I needed that time before I was ready to acknowledge my true feelings of pain and was armed with the necessary tools to heal.

Seeking Help to Heal

Before you begin this process, make sure you are in a place to truly be able to handle taking a deep look at yourself. My advice is to find a licensed therapist to help guide you through that. Click here to read my post 5 Steps to Finding a Good Therapist.

As always, be kind to yourself through this healing process. Doing this work is hard and you WILL “mess up.” Just don’t laugh at yourself for it or beat yourself up. Instead, remind yourself that you are healing and healing is never easy, but always worth it.

If you find yourself with an urge to beat yourself up in the midst of doing this healing work, read this blog post about self-care.

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