Why Bother Shedding The Sarcasm?

Why Bother Shedding the Sarcasm?

Sarcasm used to be my go to method of communicating. It was easier to throw a barb at someone than to take them seriously or to have them take me seriously. It felt empowering to cut someone down before they could cut me down. I found sarcasm to be a safe way for me to expel my contempt without being truthful. Cynicism also protected me from anyone who wanted to get too emotionally close for my comfort. No one wanted to be friends with someone who regularly mocked them. But this ill humor of mine veiled what really lay beneath the surface—the fear of vulnerability. So, when I realized the damaging effects sarcasm had on myself and others, I knew I’d have to let it go. Shedding my tried and true method of self-protection was a scary thought because I wasn’t sure how I’d get along without it. 

Letting Cynicism Fall

I don’t remember how I learned to be sarcastic or who first modeled it for me. But I do remember how powerful I felt the first time I saw a grown man back away as a result of my verbal jab. That’s the trouble with mockery. You immediately notice its powerful protective effects and then become accustomed to feeling as though you have the upper hand over someone else. It is only later on you realize how these repetitive verbal barbs destroy your relationships, and corrode you from the inside out.  

For some, wearing sarcasm as a protective armor can be traced back to an emotional injury. But, instead of honing in on how our affliction affected us, it is easier to turn our hurtfulness outward and on to another.  As a result, the insight and energy we might use to investigate the effects of our wounding are used to wound someone else.  We become experts at finding someone else’s soft spot and aiming our insults where we know the greatest injury will occur. 

The cloak I wore and the dagger I bore became an accustomed costume. When people saw me, they expected me to be abrasive. Though I never intended to become a cynic, I turned into one. With time and repetition, I morphed into possessing a reputation I was not proud of. And even when I came to the realization that I wanted to shed it, at the same time I wondered who I’d become instead. If I am not sarcastic, if I am not hostile, if I am not incentive, then what am I? 

Shedding sarcasm is scary. Without it we are vulnerable, authentic and sensitive. When others see our soft spots they might take a jab at us. But if we are on the other side of cynicism, we will know the truth behind those jabs—they are someone, who like us, has been wounded.

Why bother shedding the sarcasm? Shedding our sarcasm removes our thin veil of disguise and makes us look just like everybody else. 

Why Bother Knowing Your Propensity?

Why Bother Knowing Your Propensity?

My personality lends itself to a few particular and displeasing idiosyncrasies. One those inclinations, more in my past than present, was the use of sarcasm. “Sarkazein” the Greek word for sarcasm, means to tear the flesh. Not a very pretty word picture, but it is accurate. People who are sarcastic mock others, cut them down and point shine a spotlight on their weaknesses. Those who have the propensity toward sarcasm can easily spot another person’s flawed mannerism, foreign accent or unusual mannerism, pointing it out to their victim with words that cut to the quick. Like a well aimed right hook to someone’s jaw, sarcasm wields power to stop someone short, but without the use of any physical force. Your opponent, or the one you feel is your opponent, is suddenly struck dumb, unable to even take a stab back at you. And the power one suddenly feels is quite exhilarating. I suspect I acquired this trait by watching and most likely, admiring those who could wield such power by using only their words. Once I realized the potency of sarcasm, I latched onto it and used it like a weapon.  

      Put Up Your Dukes!

Though not everyone uses sarcasm as a weapon to defend themselves, I did. I noticed that I could hurl barbs with my verbiage and cut someone down to size before they cut me down. Most of the time, when I began a new relationship, I was on the defensive side, taking an opposing stance. Feeling like the inferior one, I needed to prove myself as something bigger, stronger and smarter than I really was. I reasoned that if I could make someone feel less than they were, men, more so than women, before they made me feel less than I was, then I  could feel superior to them. But, sarcasm will only get you so far in life until you realize the harm it causes. Though I might have pretended I was only joking around a little bit with them, mocking or belittling someone else in order to help me feel bigger only created bitterness on both sides of the relationship. Now I was not the only one on the defense, but they were too. 

Then, I became more emotionally aware of the harm I was doing with my words. Nipping and scoffing at other people’s characters all the time gave me a less than admirable reputation. Walking into a room full of mixed company, the men would shy away from me, leaving me alone and giving me wide berth. My reputation for sarcasm left me standing alone and lonely. Did I drop my habit all together and all at once? I may have come into my sarcastic ways easily, but leaving the cynical way was much harder. But when I felt lured to making a snarky or insincere remark to someone, I stopped and thought about what I was about to say. Yes, the remark may have cut them down a notch or two, but was it really my job to be the one to do so? 

Why bother knowing your propensity? It is worth knowing what lures you to go in the wrong direction so that you can stop and go a different way.