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beard
No, this is not the continuing adventures of Alternate Universe Josh, although I'm sure he's been busy and I should check in on him. This is day 4 of the "Jumpstart Your Journaling" series inspired by the Art of Manliness.

Day 4: Via negativia; today, pick a habit that you’d like to eliminate from your life. Bad habits are like armpits, we all have ‘em and they all stink. Whether cutting soda out of your life, or putting a stop to your porn addiction; either way, as with yesterday, think about the steps you’ll take in order to put the kibosh on that negative habit. And again, also think about how you’ll keep yourself accountable to that goal.


Because I defend myself from accusations with self-depreciation and bad jokes, my gut reaction to this is "I should stop beating my wife; she hates Pente."

My next reaction is slightly more serious. I do need to stop with the self-depreciation. What I do is more than the humblebrag false modesty that I display. I put myself down. Constantly. I've already written about this. It makes no sense to me. Theologically, I do not fall into the category of "I am a worm" and so totally undeserving of God's grace and human friendship. I believe deep down that people are good, and for some reason, my habits, my persona, doesn't apply this reflectively. I am still, in many ways, trying to put a paper bag over my head so no one will have to look at me.

When people tell me I'm a good person, I deny it.

When people tell me I'm good at something, I deny it. Most often this is a compliment to my singing in church, which I dismiss as more enthusiasm than ability. This is another hypocrisy in my life. I believe that if I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it Right and Better Than My Ability.

Can I make a confession? I have often been tempted to create a fake Twitter account and retweet everything I post with a snide "look at what this worthless piece of crap has to say". I am the president of my own self-depreciation society. Me and Marvin the Paranoid Android. We're buddies.

The sticky bit here is I have no idea how to stop. It's a habit. It's almost an autonomous response. How does one stop breathing? It's just as natural to me now. 

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
daveraines
Jan. 5th, 2014 05:50 am (UTC)
This is an interesting series and an interesting post in the series. I wonder if really intelligent, capable people learn self-deprecation as a defense mechanism. I remember that, at some point along the line, I heard or read that self-deprecating humor is one of the ways to "win friends and influence people" (or something of that ilk).
joshenglish
Jan. 6th, 2014 05:08 am (UTC)
That does sound like the sort of manipulative thing Carnegie would include in his book. That's not why I do it, of course. I know I made a habit of pointing out that I was younger than my peers (the school wanted me to wait an entire year to start kindergarten) and then adding to this the knowledge that I was smarter than they were (because of my literacy and cleverness and inability to not say what was on my mind). I caused a lot of people to dislike me, I think, and they took to insulting me, so I took to insulting me first to try to disarm them.

It never worked.

I don't know the psychology of intelligent, capable people. They may do this.
rymrytr
Jan. 5th, 2014 10:35 am (UTC)
I am the president of my own self-depreciation society.

If you are President, then I am Vice-President. Our organizations runs to the multi-millions of members.

For me, it is a defense mechanism. On one hand, I do it to say aloud, what I believe others are already thinking about me. Secondly, it is a way to draw attention away from any moment where someone may find me interesting enough to attempt to become an intimate friend. As I'm know to say,

"If I had friends like me, I wouldn't have anything to do with them!"

I've lived with the desperate striving of avoiding getting to near, emotionally, to others for so long, that last week, I deleted my Facebook account. It was just too much, dealing with all the family, asking me how I'm doing, and would I come for dinner, or, (Haven forbid), could they stop by, this weekend?, etc.

Now that I'm old, retired, disabled, and enduring a steady decline of my cognitive abilities, I just want to live anonymously through my computer, dealing only with those, such as my LJ "friends", who have never met me personally. They have to accept the picture I paint, and have nothing else with which to make and investigative comparison.

All this to say that there is nothing that can happen to you or me, (or millions of others), that has not previously occurred to the billions before us, and that, from the beginning of time!

We each, follow our chosen path and exist as best as we can, until we drop into that oblivion of which Hamlet considered entering , but could not do so, out of fear of the unknown. He is/was correct when he pondered whether or not he should kill himself, or fight against the depression. He wondered if death would bring the desired "peace", or would the "punishment of nightmares", be eternal...

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?


I too, am a certified coward!


jaylake
Jan. 5th, 2014 02:03 pm (UTC)
The same way one stops or starts anything else. One step at a time. There are no shortcuts.

I for one have always found you a very worthwhile and likeable human being. I'm pretty sure your wife feels the same way. Trust her, even when you cannot trust yourself.
joshenglish
Jan. 6th, 2014 05:09 am (UTC)
Thank you, Jay.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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