Why self-depreciating humour will bite you in the ass

I’m the queen of self-depreciating humour. I like how it eases every mood, gathers laughter and keeps me humble. The trouble is when people start believing me. I used to think that my jokes kept me in check, but I became more and more convinced that I am digging my own pit.

Studies found that humour at our own expense are linked to higher emotional intelligence, great leadership and lower anxiety. What’s not to love you might think? Blame it on me not originally growing up in the UK, maybe my humour is too dry or irony doesn’t come across. But my circle has started taking my jokes literally, thinking I have nothing going on in my life and no friends (when that couldn’t be further from the truth).


I joke about sleeping all day and having nothing on during lockdown, and people actually take me seriously. It doesn’t matter how often I talk about the million things I have going on each day. I say I only eat chocolate or hate myself for the reality TV I watch, they start worrying for my mental and physical health. It feels like unless I’m not constantly bragging, people will take my humour without a grain of salt. Do I have to shout ‘Bazinga!’ after every joke?

Trevor Moawad, the ‘world’s-best brain trainer’ who works with elite athletes for positive thinking, advocates removing all negative self-talk. According to him, success starts with the words we think and speak. Negativity, even jokingly, has a much larger impact in our brain and gets saved easier compared to positive talk. So while I might be joking, my brain (and my friends) might not know so.

I wrote a blog post titled we are what we think of others, but am I truly what I joke about? It’s easy to see that my jokes and insecurities align, so maybe there is some truth to that. Sometimes it feels like I’m testing the waters with my humour, to see on the other person’s reaction whether they agree with what I’m saying. Maybe I’m hoping they’ll correct me, insist otherwise or disagree vehemently. Maybe I should just learn to reparent myself.

2 thoughts on “Why self-depreciating humour will bite you in the ass

Add yours

  1. Really enjoyed this and was rather reluctantly going to point out that UK spelling is ‘self-deprecating’ but apparently both are correct, and have pretty much the same meaning, although the former is the more common. So that’s two things I’ve learned today …..


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