Self-deprecating humor can still hurt

Mel Acosta, Opinion Editor

It’s become increasingly more popular to deflect one’s own mental health through self-deprecating humor. Sprouting in memes and day-to-day conversation, making a joke at your own expense, when overused, has the potential to make you view yourself in a more negative light.

Ethan Kross, a psychologist of the University of Michigan, was the head of a study done in 2014, which was titled “Self-Talk as a Regulatory Mechanism: How You Do It Matters.” It describes how when we belittle ourselves, our brains automatically associate the statement as a fact, regardless of how casual or informal it may be.

This showcases how it may be more difficult to create strong bonds with family or friends because of that thin layer beneath the humorous aspect, which suggests that the person making the jokes feels as though they are unworthy of receiving love from others.

Undeterred by this, mental health can’t only be observed one way or another.  Everything is experienced differently for everyone. The prospect of self-deprecating humor leaning more on the negative side resides in the level of self-worth that the person doing it has.

While mocking oneself can be an effective way to divert situations that cause uneasiness and potentially create a better understanding among one another, it can be the result of suppressed feelings and insecurities. Ultimately, self-ridicule shouldn’t be justified as a way to escape self-doubt.

According to psychologist and humor researcher Arnie Cann, people are pulled in by authenticity. Expressing your difficulties on a lighter note, and through humor, results in people feeling more comfortable around you. While this is in itself comforting, it’s important to understand that you don’t need to be an asset to anyone. It’s good to help others find that ground where they can feel agreeably vulnerable with you, but it doesn’t have to come at the price of your better being.

Laughing at ourselves instead of being frightened by our thoughts can relieve our nerves, but doesn’t mean that we have to invalidate everything we feel and constantly refer to our existence as a joke.

With a lot of stigma still surrounding mental health, it’s vital that we remember to show understanding and compassion despite any way in which someone chooses to cope. Especially in an era that masks it primarily through humor.

Self-love is a priority above almost all else. It’s always an ultimate goal, and that sort of discovery is driven solely from within.