Iron Rule of Tomassi #9
Never Self-Deprecate under any circumstance.
The Iron Rules is the chapter I will recommend people start with when I recommend The Rational Male to their reading. Most people are reluctant to read a book in the first place, so I say if you can’t make yourself read any other part of the book, at least read through The Iron Rules. The ninth rule listed above is easily my favorite, and I want to explain why.
Christian men always self-deprecate. From the pulpit, of course, but in day-to-day interactions too. We act like it’s an indication of virtue on the part of the men who do it. One easy example is a pastor in the pulpit making some unfunny joke about his wife’s only imperfection being her taste in men. That’s a common phenomena, but I see it as even more pervasive than that. Men in the exclusive company of other men routinely cut themselves down. Someone mentions working out, and another man pipes up to inform the group that he would go to the gym, but the boss-man (his wife) won’t let him. Some guy talks about his hobby, and makes sure to tell everyone that his wife loathed it so much he had to make a “man-cave” to pursue his interests. This is typical, unsolicited self-deprecation committed voluntarily by Christian men all the time.
This behavior goes beyond men-bad, women-good, of course. For example, some guy talks about working out, and another man, likely obese and generally unattractive, self-deprecates without even mentioning his wife. “Man, I would work out, but I’m just too lazy, and I just love pizza and ice cream too much! Lol!”
Clearly Christian men don’t think it’s inappropriate to joke about their personal failures in this way. That’s why I think Iron Rule #9 is my personal favorite, because making the conscious decision to live by it gives you light-bulb moment after light-bulb moment in your day-to-day interactions. I can personally attest to this, having been trained for most of my life to see self-deprecation as a good thing. In The Rational Male on page 234, Rollo wrote a couple sentences that make this point especially clear:
The message is ‘women love men who laugh at Men’. Thus, you have to be hyper-aware of it and unlearn it. You have to catch yourself in mid-sentence so to speak. Women operate in the sub-communications and when you overtly admit to a lack of confidence in yourself or your collective gender you may as well just LFBJ yourself.Page 234 of The Rational Male by Rollo Tomassi
Rollo was talking mostly about women in this particular paragraph, but I would extend this to interactions where men are your primary or only audience. You do have to be hyper-aware of it, because catching yourself before you open your mouth takes a conscious, focused act of the will. The action itself is simple; It’s just keeping your mouth shut, basically. But, when you do stop yourself from self-deprecating, you will immediately feel a strong desire being denied its usual satisfaction. You want to make yourself look bad. It’s uncomfortable to not do it. But, it’s an eye-opening moment, because now you’re starting to see your self-deprecation for what it really is. Before you thought it was no big deal, but then you actually implemented the rule, and now it’s clear that it is a very big deal indeed. You really wanted to cut yourself down in front of your friends and family.
Stopping yourself before self-deprecation is good for you. The more you do it, the more your realize how pathetic it was all along. You enjoyed taking the opportunity to advertise what a loser you are. Heck, it gets you cheap laughs, doesn’t it? Relieves a little anxiety, right? Keeps everyone’s expectations low, and you can take comfort in embracing the truth that you’re just a lame, unexceptional dude among many. Stopping and recognizing your insecure behavior for what it really is will only reinforce your desire to keep it to yourself.
To my readers, if this is a lesson you haven’t learned yet, I highly recommend it. Implementing rule #9 yields immediate results. You don’t have to be in denial about your negative self image, but for God’s sake and your own, keep it to yourself! You will instantly see why once you take that simple step. Just because you have a character flaw relevant to the topic of conversation does not mean you should tell everyone about it. Stifle that desire to expose your failings! Your friends and family won’t even know to think less of you if you don’t tell them about it in the first place, so stop being your own worst enemy. You want to know a basic, simply way to improve your own confidence and self-esteem in general? This is the way to go.