Small changes make big differences.

Tuesdays with MOJO / Self deprecation be-gone!

Marjorie Spitz Rento2 Comments

Have you been to the gym lately?  It’s just bustling and bursting with people.  The “regulars” snicker under their breath, “amateurs” in reference to those with fresh commitments to their health and fitness regimen.  Alternatively, I love seeing the new faces and applaud them!

But here’s the thing:  whether you’re a regular or a newbie, please stop with the self deprecating behavior.  Self deprecation used as humor is one thing.  Used to put yourself down or add qualifiers, however, is another and it needs to end. 

Take this conversation overheard after a recent Pilates class (where I actually was a newbie):

Woman:  It’s great to see you!

Man:  You too!  I’ve just joined and am new here.  Do you do other activities besides this class?

Woman: Yes, I use the gym, but not as much as I would like.

Man: That’s great!

Woman: Yeah, but the weights I use are so light you’d laugh.  They’re probably pencils compared yours.

Man:  Fumbling over words, not sure what to say.

Recognize yourself?  This is a theme on a conversation I’ve heard over and over again, especially during the past few weeks. 

It goes something like this:

Person 1:  I like your xyz.

Person 2:  Oh this old thing.  I’ve had it for years!


Person 2:  I got it on sale at so-and-so.


Person 2:  It’s the only thing that fits me lately.


Person 2:  Really? I think it’s terrible.

I suggest a simple “thank you” would do. 

Person 1 did not ask where you got it, how long you’ve had it, and certainly did not indicate an underlying meaning of “Oh, I see you’ve gained weight over the holidays and thus picked the only thing in your close that will hide it.  So I guess I’ll encourage you by giving you false praise.”  Person 1 gave you a compliment.  Take it, enjoy it, and stop adding caveats.

It indicates a lack self confidence, and simultaneously makes the flatterer uncomfortable.

I have a childhood friend who would start every sentence with “I’m sorry.”   It was ingrained in her to begin each interaction with an apology, whether for answering a question or inserting her opinion.  She is a smart, funny, attractive, generous human being and to this day this unfortunate habit lives on.

One dear friend will attach a belittling remark when saying “thank you.”

For example:

Me: “Hey you look great. Those workouts are making a big difference.”

Her: “Thanks, but I still have A LOT of work to do.  Have you seen my thighs?” 

I cite these examples to encourage an end to this line of thinking.  Instead, reassure the worthy and super-hero like human being you are.  Here’s how: 

Hold the urge to argue there’s nothing special about you (which is what you’re doing by the way).   Instead, take a beat and internalize the comment.  Consider how much you deserve it (which you do), pat yourself on the back and forge ahead with a smile. 

Focus on the big picture – how you respond to that conversation has ramifications on your and the person’s psyche.  Receive it positively, and notice how that makes you feel.    

Coming up with self-deprecating and belittling retorts takes energy, and that energy is n-e-g-a-t-i-v-e.   Not only that, it’s painful for the person you’re unintentionally bringing into your world of discomfort.  Redirect it! 

It may feel uncomfortable at first, but with practice it will feel good.

So going back to that conversation overheard at the gym, here’s how I hope it plays out next time:

Woman:  It’s great to see you!

Man:  You too!  I’ve just joined and am new here.  Do you do other activities besides this class?

Woman: Yes, I workout in the gym with weights and do cardio.  It feels great!  I could show you some time.

Man: That’s great.  I’d appreciate you showing me the ropes.

Woman: You bet!  We could adjust the workout to fit your level and it would be extra motivating to have a partner.

Man: Done!

And the two go off to workout heaven, strong and positive, happy, healthy and flourishing.

Whether it’s how you look, eat, perform at work, the amount of money you make, or what you own – how can you adjust your responses to flourish as well?

I’ve seen it in my coaching clients over and over again – small changes in their reactions result in big changes in life.  Try it and shine!

We are worthy,

Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™

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