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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Mott

Fixing Your Brain to Mouth Filter to Remove Sarcasm

My sarcasm only gets me in trouble when my brain-to-mouth filter is malfunctioning.

Sarcasm is funny except when it's not. This is the paradox of sarcasm.

It is the core of most comedy shows. We laugh until it hurts. Then we laugh until we cry. Then we cry.

This is the paradox of sarcasm.

And because it gets us laughs, attention, and sometimes positive reinforcement, we dig into the habit deeper until it becomes a part of who we are.

Our addiction to sarcasm is not unreasonable. Sarcasm, according to some, can improve your social standing. But it can also come with a heavy price tag:

Those who are sarcastic are the rulers of the universe, displaying more wit and intelligence than any other personality type (that was sarcasm, obviously). But, in all seriousness, snarky commentary is a quick way to get misunderstood.

There is the first paradox of sarcasm. It first gets you attention. But that attention can be short-lived because it can also leave you feeling alone and misunderstood.

I resemble that remark too.

For years I complained about being misunderstood. No one seemed to "get" me. And I never understood why.

That is until the day that I learned this:

Sarcasm is veiled hostility.


I never saw my sarcasm that way. Actually, I thought that I was being "witty." Isn't that a good thing.

There is a thin line between sarcasm and wit. And misuse can lead to problems in your relationships.

It’s just better used sparingly – like a potent spice in cooking. Too much spice and the dish will be overwhelmed by it. Similarly, an occasional dash of sarcastic wit can spice up a chat and add an element of humor to it. But a big or steady serving of sarcasm will overwhelm the emotional flavor of any conversation and taste very bitter to its recipient.

It was then that I started to pull back the curtain on my sarcasm. And I didn't like what I saw.

The truth of the matter was that sometimes I used my sarcasm to gain approval and prove a point. And neither of those moves was helping create the authentic and nurturing relationships that I wanted.

And worse than my elaborate form of cloaking was the fact that sometimes my sarcasm ventured into the territory of unkind and downright mean.

I hate to admit it, but sometimes I was being a real jerk.

And worse than that, I think it was at the source of some of my "No one understands me."

The truth of the matter is that SOME people did not understand me.

(No kidding, Sherlock.)

The problem with sarcasm is that it takes a lot of work to decipher.

And some people have a hard time detecting it:

Sarcasm detection is an essential skill if one is going to function in a modern society dripping with irony. “Our culture in particular is permeated with sarcasm,” says Katherine Rankin, a neuropsychologist at the University of California at San Francisco. “People who don’t understand sarcasm are immediately noticed. They’re not getting it. They’re not socially adept.”

Yes, sarcasm has upsides and downsides:

  • You get attention but some people may resent it.

  • It can be used to make people laugh or as a weapon of meanness.

  • Some people may understand and some people may be lost in your attempts at funny.

I was told to give up my sarcasm. Well, easier said than done.

I wish that I could say my love affair with sarcasm is over. It is not.

My epiphany led me to this conclusion: use wisely and sparingly.

And that is also easier said than done.

So I had to come up with a practical solution to my dilemma. I created a filter of kindness for my mouth.

Before I say anything, I ask myself:

  • Is the person I am talking to feeling hurt or rejected?

  • Will my use of sarcasm in this situation embarrass the other person?

  • Is this a sensitive subject with the other person?

  • Has this person been confused by my previous attempts at sarcasm?

If the answer to any of those questions is "Yes," I keep my sarcastic remarks to myself.

I use these filtering questions to help me distinguish sarcasm from wit. And to help me stay connected to other people.

What I understand now that I didn't understand back then is this:

Wit heals and sarcasm hurts.

And hurting others is never good for relationships.

Do you find yourself using sarcasm? How are your relationships?

Could your use of sarcasm be at the source of some of your relationship or connection problems?

I challenge you to take a 30-day break from sarcasm and make some observations. Use the filter questions above before saying anything sarcastic.

Check out this Linked In article for more practical tips on how to become more tactful and diplomatic in your conversations >>> How to Be Tactful

I don't want you to totally give up sarcasm. But putting in a really good filter between your brain and mouth will improve your relationships and lead to more love, peace, and joy.

And a kinder world.

And as you work to make the world a kinder place, know that I am right here cheering for you.

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