Mental Health

How to Respond When Someone is Taking Self Deprecation Too Far

3 Mins read

Self deprecation from a friend or loved one can seem uncomfortable, especially when it goes too far. We all laugh at ourselves once in a while; after all, how can you laugh at anyone else if you can’t laugh at yourself first? The problem is that too much self deprecation can potentially become more serious, and lead to poor self-esteem and other issues.

How do you respond appropriately when someone you care about is taking self deprecation too far? In this guide, we’ll show you how to navigate the situation without hurting any feelings or causing further problems. This is difficult ground to cover, so tread lightly!

When Is It Too Much?

The first thing you need to do is understand when self deprecating is too much. It’s a fine line and one that most people find uncomfortable to tread, but it’s important to know the difference between self deprecation for the sake of humor and when there might be another issue under the surface.

Let’s take a look at an example. Let’s say your friend, John, is constantly putting himself down. He always laughs afterward, seemingly making light of his shortcomings through humor. This can be a convenient disguise for poor self-esteem or other issues. It’s one thing to self deprecate now and then, but constantly putting yourself down isn’t healthy.

Pay attention to your friends and loved ones. How often do they put themselves down? How intense is the self deprecation? Do they only make light-hearted jokes, or is the self deprecation to the point of becoming awkward?

Let Them Know They’re Making You Uncomfortable

How your loved ones’ self deprecating behavior makes you feel is still an important consideration. You’re uncomfortable because you love this person, and you know they’re worth so much more than they’re eluding to. You know the things they’re saying are, for the most part, untrue; or, at least, not true to the extent that they’re making it seem.

Let your loved one know that talking that way about themselves makes you uncomfortable. Don’t make it about you, but make sure they understand you feel this way because what they’re saying isn’t entirely true. You recognize their value and loved them for who they are, and are worried that they think so poorly of themselves.

You may experience a confrontation here, but don’t worry, it’s a good thing. If they push back, your words are having an impact. Your loved one might not even realize they’re self deprecating until you say something, and this can come as a shock.

Focus On The Things You Love About Them

Sometimes, the people we love just need a gentle reminder of the things we love about them. How do you feel when someone you love compliments or praises you for a personality trait or accomplishment? It’s like being on top of a mountain with a fresh, cool, breeze on your face.

When you notice someone self deprecating, remind them of a time when their strengths were shining. Perhaps there was a time you needed help with something, and they came through. Or, perhaps they’re really great at deescalating situations or have some skill they’re proud of. Whatever the case may be, a gentle reminder now and then can do wonders for self-esteem.

Look Deeper

Self deprecation isn’t always what it seems to be on the surface. Sometimes, it’s an indicator of a more serious problem. Those suffering from conditions like depression can engage in self deprecating behavior because they genuinely suffer from a self-esteem problem and don’t think they’re special or worth talking about in a positive light.

Watch for other warning signs, such as:

  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Pervasive sorrow for more than two weeks
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities or people
  • Relationship troubles
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Sleep and appetite changes
  • Pervasive anger, sudden violence or intense emotions

If you notice any of these symptoms alongside the self deprecating behavior, sit down and talk with your loved one and help them seek help. Depression is a serious mental health condition and should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and the very act itself; which is a tragedy that claims thousands of lives every year.


Self deprecating behavior in excess may be an indicator of something more serious. And, let’s be honest; none of us likes to hear a loved one putting themselves down all the time. It’s important that we remind those closest to us what we value about them, so they have a sense of purpose, belonging, and confidence around us. Plus, who doesn’t love a genuine compliment from someone they love?

Avoid criticisms during times of self deprecation, but don’t be afraid to let the loved one know they’re making you uncomfortable.

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About author
Ryan Kh is an experienced blogger, digital content & social marketer. Founder of Catalyst For Business and contributor to search giants like Yahoo Finance, MSN. He is passionate about covering topics like big data, business intelligence, startups & entrepreneurship. Email:
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