We all had to find ourselves in situations where we are looking for understanding, but suddenly we are faced with the fact that we seem to be unheard. You want to share the good news of a promotion at work, but your friend, instead of sharing the joy, indifferently stirs the sugar in a cappuccino and says: “It sounds good, but you have to work until nightfall now, who will take care of your son?”. And the euphoria of the promotion at work disappears.
Such situations can relate to completely different aspects of life. Unfortunately, not all people can support us in difficult moments or rejoice at our victories. The most offensive thing is that some of them manage to minimise our merits with their comments, downplay the importance of our achievements, or even aggravate grief. Why is this happening?
In fact, devaluation is a defense mechanism used by people with chronic self-rejection to feel themselves as if they are better than others, to hide problems with their self-esteem, or to avoid intense emotional distress. They seek to hide their unmet needs for love, intimacy, unconditional acceptance, a sense of their self-worth. In fact, people who try to devalue the feelings or merits of others suffer no less than the objects of “devaluation”. Let’s consider the most common options for this behavior.
“Yes, nice, talented… Lovely, but quite unlike what is a genius” or a classic of depreciation
This is the most popular way of devaluation, and such situations happen quite often. When the interlocutor seeks to reduce the significance of your result, it means that for some reason it is emotionally difficult for him to hear about other people’s success. Maybe he is worried about his own financial insolvency or failure in the professional field.
By diminishing the achievements of others, he is trying, in a sense, to protect himself from a strong blow to his own self-esteem. By self-convincing that someone else’s result is not so brilliant, he tries to maintain the appearance that he is worth something too. And the mood spoiled by the interlocutor is only collateral damage.
How should you react? Try to make it clear to such a person that your result is valuable to you. For example, you worked long and hard for it or this is your dream, which you managed to bring to life. After all, there are no objective and universal criteria used for defining “success.”
However, unfortunately, it is not always possible to get this message across to the person who does this. Then it is better to minimize communication with him because subconsciously he perceives your relationship as a continuous race and a zealous competition. Such contacts are disappointing to both parties.
“The wedding is so great! But how will you live with his parents in a small apartment?”
This is a slightly different way of devaluation, in which painful envy is hidden under the guise of sensitivity and empathy. The person showing this behavior is trying, again, to reduce the value of the event by refocusing your attention on the negative aspects.
These can be small pitfalls or fictitious and far-fetched moments. In a word, a person is stubbornly looking for a fly in the ointment in order to point it out to you and make you worry about it much more than thinking about your victory or happiness in general.
How should you react? Try to explain that it was important for you to share your feelings about the happy event, and if you have any difficulties, you will work out them as they come up.
If you have people around you with fluctuating or low self-esteem, try not to provoke situations that force them to behave this way. Talking incessantly about your wedding with a friend who cannot find a right man for herself is a real torture for her.
Happiness should be shared only with those who can sincerely rejoice for you.
To save herself from painful feelings about her own failure in relationships with the opposite sex, she will intuitively use protective mechanisms.
Try to think in advance about what feelings of the interlocutor this or that news will cause, and, depending on this, dose the expression of emotions. Especially when you know exactly what insecurities or worries disturb the other person and can emotionally hurt him.
“In Africa, children are starving!” or others feel worse
Are you familiar with the situation when, in response to your complaints, the interlocutor tries to sharply change the topic and point out that your difficulties are nothing compared to global issues of the world order? For example: “So what if he doesn’t want to have children yet? An unwanted child is much worse. Do you have any idea how many of these children in our country attempt suicide during adolescence?”
Then the interlocutor can begin to develop an abstract idea, not forgetting to support his reasoning with the universal postulates: “we should be grateful for what we already have.”
In reality, this person is trying to protect himself from traumatic experiences in this way. Not everyone is ready to let other people’s negative emotions pass through themselves, so some prefer to distance themselves from the interlocutor by changing the topic of conversation and referring to global problems.
How should you react? First of all, you need to explain that your problem really worries you, and you refuse to recognize its insignificance. Then everything will depend on the interlocutor’s reaction. If he agrees with your opinion, you will have the opportunity to conduct a constructive dialogue, if he continues to deny, the discussion on the merits will not work.
“Who needs you, you can’t even cook eggs” or belittling your partner’s abilities
Some people allow making such biting comments to their beloved. They try to point out that we are not adapted to an independent life at every opportunity.
By depriving their other half of self-confidence, they “bind” us, “so insolvent and useless,” to themselves. This manipulation comes from a subconscious fear of loss. Yes, in reality they are afraid of losing us, so they take away our faith in ourselves so that we don’t get away from them. Such is the paradox.
In addition, such people are usually highly dependent on the opinions of others and constantly need praise. If they do not receive it from their partners, they begin to devalue them in order to increase their own self-esteem at the expense of others.
How should you react? In such a situation, having a frank conversation with your partner can help. Talk to each other about how important the relationship is to you and what it means to you to lose each other. If you feel like your partner needs recognition, agree to give each other mutual thanks and praise.
“You are too negative”, or blindness under the pretext of a positive worldview
This is a prime example of how you can distort a healthy psychological concept, adjusting it to suit your own manipulations. It is true that a positive vision can significantly affect the quality of life. So, for example, do not be upset about the weather changes or the fact that the bus doors have closed right in front of you.
If you take any unplanned events negatively, focusing on the fact that troubles always happen to you, it is impossible to become happy. Life always finds a way to make adjustments to our plans.
But not everything in life depends on our attitude. If a man raises his hand to a woman, it is senseless and even shameless to advise her to “look at things more positively”.
How should you react? It all depends on the situation in which the interlocutor gives you such advice. If you complain to him about the difficulties of moving to a new city and are worried about how you will find a job in a new place, it is quite possible that it is the change of attitude (and the search for advantages) that will help you change your place of residence with the least concern.
However, if you are advised to have a “positive outlook” as a remedy for a health-damaging or even life-threatening problem, you have the right to give a sharp answer.
“B for the test? And your friend got A – you need to do better”, or educational criticism
Some parents believe that deliberately belittling their own children’s performance will help to discipline them better. This view of educational policy has existed since ancient times. It was believed that if a child is encouraged too much, he may become lazy and too proud of his exclusivity.
And, despite the fact that today most psychologists say that children really need positive assessment from their parents for harmonious development, old prejudices sometimes occur.
For educational purposes, the child is told how dependent he is, that he constantly leaves mess behind him and that parents needed to babysit for him for a long time. And they often forget to praise. Comparisons with other children are also not beneficial – the child only feels his own inferiority more acutely.
Educational criticism has many pitfalls and negative consequences. The children, who did not feel parental approval, try to earn it in adulthood or deliberately cut off communication with parents, not feeling emotionally close to them.
How should you react? As you know, you can’t choose your parents. In any case, children are still too young to try to understand the psychological subtleties, they are just learning to contact with this world. They have not yet formed a base to be able to change their reactions to events and people in accordance with psychological attitudes. Therefore, in this case, all responsibility falls on the parents, who do not need to be afraid to say a kind word to their child once again, praising his efforts, and not the grade at school.