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What does depreciation look like?

Imagine a situation. You are 10, you come home from school and happily tell your mom or dad that you got an A. But instead of rejoicing and praising, they shrug their shoulders and ask: “And how many others got fives?” And if you are not the only one who did so well, your achievement, as it were, ceases to exist. It is not unique, which means there is absolutely nothing to be proud of.

Or, for example, a woman comes to work and boasts that she bought a car. And one of the colleagues with a sigh says: “You should marry, of course. So my husband would have bought a car or he would have driven you.” These words seem to emphasize: buying a car is a very dubious success if there is no husband, and there is absolutely nothing to rejoice at.

This is what depreciation looks like. One person makes it clear to another that his achievements are worthless and there are no reasons to admire oneself in general.

However, devaluation can extend not only to successes, but also to experiences:

  • Think what a shame! Nobody died.
  • Is this depression? Depression is when a person lies all day long and cannot even get up, but you have it, blues at best.
  • It would be something to cry about! It’s not worth it.

The mechanism here is similar – to show that a person’s trouble is not serious enough, and he is not supposed to feel what he feels.

And finally, you can devalue not only others, but also yourself: do not rejoice at your own successes, consider your victories insignificant, do not allow yourself to experience negative emotions.

How does depreciation affect us?

Nothing good comes out of this.

Anastasia Markova


When our feelings, achievements, experiences are constantly devalued, then we completely stop noticing them. They are not valuable, and therefore not important. It turns out that a person, a child or an adult, does not know himself, does not understand what he likes, what he wants, why he is valuable and significant.

On the one hand, there is a feeling of insufficiency of oneself, and on the other hand, that he lives someone else’s life. In an attempt to acquire value, he relies on external signals about what to do, think, feel.

Why do people devalue others

This is a defensive reaction.

We need it to protect our psyche from very unpleasant experiences. For example, we can sincerely deny that something is wrong with us, avoid difficult tasks and conversations, respond to difficult events with laughter and sarcasm, blame others for our troubles, turn to esotericism. That is, to do anything, just not to fully recognize the problem and not let yourself feel pain and disappointment.

The same goes for depreciation. Here the woman came to work and said that she had bought a car. Some colleagues envied her. A complex and unpleasant cascade of thoughts started: “Yeah, she has a new car! But I don’t. She was able to earn, but I have not yet succeeded. I’m probably worse than that. I don’t work well enough, I don’t know how to save well. Perhaps we need to do something about it and somehow correct the situation.”

Feeling and thinking this can be painful, so our brain is trying to urgently find a loophole and explain what is happening so that we feel better. One of the easiest ways to do this is to belittle the other person’s accomplishment. To prove to yourself that it is not so significant: “Probably, her parents helped her buy a car, she could not have done it herself. And in general, what does a car mean if it did not take place as a woman? No husband, no children. But I’m fine with that.”

Thus, for a person who has just been knocked out of a rut by the news of someone else’s success, it turns out to restore the usual order of things: “Everything is the same, I am no worse than others, I don’t need to do anything.”

Psychologists notethat such a protective mechanism is activated from time to time for each of us. But it is most typical for people with low self-esteem. And also for those who suffer from mental disorders, in particular from borderline personality disorder and narcissistic disorder.

This is an attempt to manipulate

If you show a person for a long time and methodically that his successes are worth nothing, and he has no right to his emotions, his self-esteem will most likely fall. And then it will be much easier to control him: to tell him how to act, to make him as comfortable and submissive as possible, to make him become less courageous and successful.

This tactic is one of the options for emotional abuse. And it can often be seen in dysfunctional abusive relationships.

Although the desire to subjugate a person does not at all exclude the possibility that the manipulator himself suffers from low self-esteem and wants to protect himself from feelings of his own inferiority.

Both reasons can also complement each other.

It’s a style of communication

If a person is used to this format of communication in his family, there is a high probability that he will communicate this way with everyone around him. Sometimes without even fully realizing that it hurts someone.

Why do people devalue themselves

There are several reasons for this.

Anastasia Markova

First, it is the environment in which the child grows up. If he receives a predominantly negative assessment of the results of his activities for a very long time, then how will he learn the skill of praising himself? If significant adults focus only on the failures of the child, then the habit of focusing on achievements simply does not develop. The child gets used to scolding himself, to be constantly dissatisfied with himself. Although the motives are usually the brightest – to work on the shortcomings in order to grow as a person.

Secondly, in our culture it is somehow not customary to brag and be proud of achievements. Modesty is encouraged, while boasting is frowned upon. Remember the saying “I am the last letter of the alphabet”? Here, in one fell swoop, everything is depreciated at once: desires, feelings, successes, merits – all this is considered unimportant.

What to do if a loved one devalues ​​you

We’ll have to go to a frank conversation and ask him not to do this again.

Anastasia Markova

Tell them that you don’t like to hear such words, that it offends you and hurts you. Most likely, relatives do not want to devalue you, it is much more likely that they simply do not know how otherwise.

The problem with devaluation is that the skill of value is not acquired not only in relation to oneself, but in general to everything. Most of us were brought up plus or minus in the same way and this ability to notice and appreciate was not invested in us.

How to stop devaluing yourself

Devaluation is a pretty persistent pattern of behavior that you can’t get rid of with a snap of your fingers. Here is what psychologist Anastasia Markova recommends trying.

Study your reactions

Understand in what situations you devalue yourself and how you do it. What words do you use in your address? What do you think? How do you react to successes and achievements?

Think about what you would like to hear

What words would please and inspire you? How would you like to respond to yourself, your feelings and the results of your own activities?


Instead of a devaluing reaction, try giving yourself support, noticing and praising yourself. And remember that you are valuable, and everything you do and feel is important.