The Difference Between Humility and Self-Deprecation

It’s often mistaken that complimenting someone means that you are required to discredit your own abilities in order to make it sincere.

You enter a pathway of telling someone how good they are at something, but spiral down the road until it’s about how you don’t measure up or about your flaws. At this point, it’s not a statement about the other person anymore, it’s a statement about yourself with a tiny portion of someone else clinging to it. Do you see how that basically cancels out the point of a compliment?
If you sit with a group of people, for even just a little while, you’ll likely hear the examples below. Read these examples and see if you can tell the difference between sincerity and self deprecation:

“You look so pretty in that dress!” vs. “You look so good in that dress, unlike me. I wish I didn’t look so terrible in everything.”

“I love your hair!” vs. “I wish my hair was as nice as yours, mine is just so (insert unpleasant adjective here).”

“Good job on that test! I thought it was hard, but you did great!” vs. “Wow good job. That test was so hard, I wish I was actually smart like you. I’m just too stupid.”

“You look great!” vs. “I wish I wasn’t so fat and had your body, you always look great and I don’t.”

The main difference between the two types of compliments is that one is genuinely praising the other person, while the other is just self-centered. I’m not saying that you’re never allowed to mention yourself when complimenting someone; but there comes a point when constantly injecting yourself into the situation just becomes a virus to the conversation. Not only does it make the other person now feel obligated to compliment you back, it just makes the whole moment awkward. No one can really embrace the glory of a compliment when they’re obliged to do something in return. At the same time, no one really wants to have a conversation with someone who is constantly self deprecating.

[one_third]After all, it is better to give than to receive.[/one_third]

Humility is often misinterpreted as merely lowering yourself below those around you despite your abilities; I think it’s much more than that. Humility is a balance of understanding what you’re good at as well as what you’re not so good at. You don’t let one outweigh the other. If you can accept these truths about yourself, it allows you to appreciate the good in other people without necessarily draining yourself of confidence (which is also a huge factor when it comes to being humble; you have to appreciate your strengths in order to sincerely appreciate other people’s).

So, don’t rag on yourself with the intention of being funny or trying to build someone up. Saying something nice about someone shouldn’t cost you your own self esteem. Stating plainly what you like about the other person without the self demeaning fluff will make not only the other person feel good, but you’ll start to feel it as well. After all, it is better to give than to receive.

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