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The Building Blocks of Arrogance

Photo by E. Rachel Thompson


If there is one thing that looks unbecoming on anybody it would have to be arrogance. It is always too loud, too forceful, and comes across as the most important thing in the room. The overbearing cloak of smugness exudes a feeling of superiority to all who behold it and it is usually seated in the most conspicuous location for everyone to see.  However, the underlying urge to wear this shroud may actually be brought on by  completely different reasons.

The Webster’s Dictionary defines arrogance as “An attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions”. It is not simply the idea of self-importance but also the bold and brash way in which it’s displayed. Typically, it is accompanied by overinflated descriptions with the intention of putting themselves in higher regards towards others. The irony is that quite often it repulses those for whom it was intended.

At times the word “pride” has been associated with arrogance but I believe it has been given a bad wrap for far too long. Being proud is a positive emotion and one which feels good to the soul. However, pride, when being associated to oneself, is where the association with conceit creeps in. This is where I strenuously object. When we are proud of someone else we want others to know and there is no association to self-importance. Unfortunately many factors in our lives influence us to equate self-pride with arrogance. The distinction should be this: when we are proud of who we are, it is not necessary to proclaim it to every passerby. Self-pride includes an assurance and awareness which needs no proclamation. It is the difference between confidence and overconfidence. In many ways, pride is displayed by our countenance more than in our brash words.

At what point does pride cross the line and become arrogance? What is the key factor which separates the two; necessitating one while desperately avoiding the other? The answer is hidden in the distinction. The main reason for arrogance is the need to make others think we are better or more accomplished than what we believe others perceive us to be.  It is also likely that the greater the display of self-importance, the lower the point of self-esteem. Arrogance can be attributed to the belief that down deep inside, we don’t want people to really know how we feel about ourselves. The best way to hide those feelings was for that individual to mask them through displaying a false sense of self-worth. Unfortunately developing this “skill” only increased the frequency of the conceited demeanor and multiplied a fabricated idea of self-value.

There are, however, times when we may need to “sell” ourselves and market our skills. During a job interview or a sales pitch would not be the most opportune time to play the humility card. Overstating your situation is one thing but once it stumbles over the boundary into arrogance, it becomes easily recognizable.

No matter how it appears, arrogance never looks good on anyone. An overinflated sense of being is at the least, repulsive and it only increases strife and contention. But when we are truly confident our demeanor will reflect that and others will feel it on a more genuine yet subtle level which speaks at a much higher volume than our own voice ever could.

Thanks again to E. Rachel Thompson for the beautiful photo and I look forward to your thoughts.

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