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Why people downplay themselves?

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  • #358331
    crawford
    Participant

    This is my second question in two days but this is something which i really want to understand.

     
    <p style=”text-align: left;”>Why do some people downplay themselves? I met a couple of people recently and both of them are familiar to me but not close friends. When i meet people i usually like to take it east at first connection/contact and remain pretty silent and opening up my energies to the person. So both of the times these people started a discussion with downplaying themselves, for example “i just came off my work, thats why i have so ugly shoes on” or the other person was finding my house on the maps so she said “i am pretty bad at finding places so i always have to use the maps”. Or the usual, “i look so ugly today, i hate myself”. This has been poking at me recently because i never have any natural answer to these statements/ conversation because it feels like they either want some validation from me or ogherwise i am confirming their statement and that they are dumb. What do these people want and how can i respond to this? I always freeze and my mind goes crazy whenever someone does this and the convesation and vibe becomes awkward and weird. It really triggers me and makes me feel insecure. What can i do?</p>

    #358333
    crawford
    Participant

    Is it about something else which i dont understand yet? It just seems so unnatural and destructive to downplay or talk about being stupid or bad at something. I have natural responses to that.

    #358335
    crawford
    Participant

    There have been number of occasions where i have been triggered by people telling me that they are stupid or do something stupid. I also have a friend that sometimes pretends to be stupid around me for some reason. Saying she has forgot things which i know she has not, or asking me obvious things which i know she knows or asking where something is which makes her look stupid which i know she is not.

    #358342
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Crawford:

    You  brought up an excellent topic in your original post here. I too feel very uncomfortable when people do that, saying negative, critical, hateful things about themselves. On one hand I don’t feel like saying, for example: no, you are not stupid, you are smart etc.., and on the other hand I feel awkward about not saying anything at all.

    “Why people downplay themselves?”- because they get anxious and want to feel better. Here is an example: person A is in a conversation with person B. During the conversation,  a thought occurs to A: I-am-stupid (many of us have very critical “inner critics” that criticize us all day long).

    Next, A is thinking that B is thinking: A-is-stupid!

    Next, A is thinking that B is about to say to A: you are stupid!  A gets anxious, afraid of how it will feel to hear B say it, so A says it himself. That way, the words are out of the way and A didn’t hear B say it.

    What should B say when hearing A downplaying himself (or herself)- something like: I am sorry you feel this way, or: it must hurt to think negatively about yourself. Or: I too think (or thought) negatively about myself and it made me feel hurt and anxious when I had those thoughts. If A  asks you to talk more on the topic of negative thoughts/ inner critic, take it from there. If A says nothing in response, leave it at that.

    * Regarding the friend who “sometimes pretends to be stupid.. saying she forgot things which I know she has not, or asking me obvious things which I know she knows..”- first, maybe she did forget and asks questions she forgot the answer to. Anxiety does that to people, makes them not pay attention, so they don’t really hear previous answers to a question and ask the question again. When this happens again, the friend asks a question you think she knows the answer to, ask her something like: do you remember that half an hour ago I answered that question?

    anita

    #358380
    crawford
    Participant

    Actually it makes alot of sense that people get anxious because they think the other person is thinking they are stupid. Today when i met the girl which looked at the map actually was late and i had found her bankcard which she had lost so maybe she felt stupid because of that and wanted to downplay herself in someway because she thought i was thinking the same. Still, these situations completely catch me off guard and it feels like a reverse gaslight where they think they know me in advance so they cast the false reality before i do it in their minds or they want to “test” me if it is true so they take the stupidness into discussion to see how i will react to that. Actually now when writing alot of light-bulbs are going off because i used to be friends with someone that i feel was very afraid of what i was thinking of him and he wanted to test me by doing jokes or taking up subjects which was about him to see how i would react and when you notice it, it is easy to want to prove otherwise which usually ends up feeding their belief and proof that it is the other way around because now the person is trying to defend himself. This is the same feeling i get in the downplaying situations, a strong danger because there is a part of me which is afraid to move because it might end up with me proving the other person that i actually think they are stupid, retarded, selfish, addicted or any other downplaying element. So i freeze and my automatic fight or flight wall goes up because it senses conflict and hurt by being in that situation. I think this also stretches back to my childhood where i felt like whatever i did i got doomed and lost or got hurt. Something to do with the way i had to act to not get hurt. This downplaying has been jumping a bit on me lately, something is calling me to understand and integrate. This girl at the coffeshop did some mathematical error while counting and said to me “How stupid of me, i am so bad at counting” wink wink. Same situation, i feel like there is no natural respons coming into my mind yet and i have to choose to either be quiet or say something really fake to validate that it is ok to be bad at math which might make them feel bad or i will peobobly say it in a way which makes them disbelieve me and feel offended because i just told them nonverbally “You such mentally, you are bad at math, get your shit together” which i never intended and never wanted to get into.

    Thanks for replying again Antia, sometimes feels like you are the only one reading on the website.

    #358383
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Crawford:

    You are welcome. “It feels like a reverse gaslight”- reads like you are suggesting that people who downplay themselves have evil intentions by doing so?

    You wrote that it feels like I am the only one reading your recent threads. Sometimes when I don’t answer a particular thread, another member seeing that no one answered that particular thread, answers that thread. At other times a thread goes unanswered for a long time. Would you like to start a new thread to which I will not reply, hoping that other members will reply?

    If so, here is my suggestion: you can communicate with me at anytime you want by returning to this thread. To encourage others to communicate with you in new threads, I will not reply to new threads. Is that acceptable to you?

    anita

     

    #358395
    crawford
    Participant

    I appreciate someone answering regardless whoever answers, did not intend to try and get someone else to answer. I am just thankful in general that you answer so many different threads and have almost answered to all my questions in all different years which is very kind.

     

    I dont always think people have bad intentions, but sometimes i do think people are conciously doing harm for personal needs because they dont know any other way to deal with situations. Unconciously feeding off other peoples reactions, falling into old stoneage egopatterns. Many times i feel people dont have a clue what they are doing but most of the time i think people do know but just dont know how to do anything else or dont care too much how it affects anyone else as long as they “feel” good in their constructs and beliefs.

    Regarding the gaslight, gaslighting can be unconciously done so as said many times i think people dont have a single clue what they are doing.

     

     

    #358401
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Crawford:

    You are welcome and thank you for your kind words. I agree with you, that “people are consciously doing harm for personal needs because they don’t know any other way to deal with situations”, or they may know other ways, but those other ways don’t feel good. Like you wrote later in your recent post: “as long as they ‘feel’ good”: feeling good is a strong motivation in human behavior.

    Like you suggested (you are amazingly wise as far as understanding behaviors, I say!),  people “don’t care too much how it affects anyone else”, which to me means that people will do what it takes for them to feel better regardless of how their behavior affects others, feeling better at the expense of others. We all have to be aware of this tendency: to feel better any which way, whatever it takes, and be careful to not harm others.

    anita

     

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