What one person views as confidence, another person will view as arrogance. It’s a fine line that doesn’t exist on a set standard or a measuring tape or in the levels on a scale. It’s not a tangible thing that can be measured for everyone to share and compare. Because it’s based on perspective and everyone’s perception is different.
How you see yourself and your abilities will determine where that measuring stick is for you. Let’s give our stick a range of 1 to 10.
If you hold confidence in yourself, and believe in your abilities, your skill and experience than the bar for achieving arrogance will be set pretty high. Let’s put it around a level of 9 on the arrogance chart.
Consequently, if you’re someone who has self doubts in any or your abilities, skill, knowledge or experience, then your bar for achieving arrogance will be set lower. Let’s put that one at level 6 on the arrogance chart.
If you have self doubts, your always questioning your abilities, skill, knowledge or experiences and you’re unsure if you can do something successfully, then you may have serious confidence issues. Let’s put that down at level 3 on our arrogance chart.
Now if you a lack self-esteem, lack confidence in your abilities, skill, knowledge or experience and you’re constantly looking in the mirror and feeling bad about what you see, then your bar for achieving arrogance will be set at the lowest level. Let’s set that one at 1. Why not Zero? It takes some measure of confidence to get out of bed each morning, shower and make an attempt to walk out the front door.
So here’s our scale in a nutshell. Where do you think you fall on the chart? Today after voicing my opinion on a subject of spirituality, I was told that I’m arrogant. Not arrogant and condescending, which a totally different topic. But simply arrogant. “One person’s confidence is another person’s arrogance” is an old quote that no one knows who originally said it. But it’s exactly what I’d like to talk to this person about.
But that doesn’t help me much in the scheme of things. Because I don’t know the person who called me arrogant. I have no idea how they view themselves on our newly created chart here.
In order to understand their perspective, I need to know a bit more about them. But that’s not likely to happen. Especially now that I’ve been labeled as arrogant.
In return, I can freely admit that there are times when I can be wholly arrogant. Sometimes it happens when I don’t even mean for it to. Which tells me that the person/people I’m talking to are way down on the scale here. But mostly it happens because I’ve gotten annoyed about something and flipped the switch. I’m human, it happens. I do my best to talk to people with respect. But when I don’t receive that same courtesy, my Irish ire shines through. I don’t like being talked down to any more than anyone else does.
But when you consider that at one time in my life I was pretty far down on the scale as an abuse victim, I’ve come a long way. Verbal, physical and mental abuse can really screw up your view of yourself. Especially after years of hearing you’re ugly, fat, stupid and blah blah, you start believing in those labels and thinking they’re true.
And you don’t have to be an abuse victim to the extreme to go through that kind of mind altering trauma. It can happen in subtle ways, it can happen from societies view of who you are, what you look like, where you come from and on and on.
At some point, many people reach the bottom and find a way to rise up out the dungeon of self-loathing. It’s a different trigger for everyone. But when it happens the climb back up the scale begins. I found the way out and with a lot of help..A LOT of introspection, self work, and fight, I managed to move the scale. Now if I can do it after all that, so can you. I don’t care if someone calls me arrogant today for that very reason. Because I will NEVER be a victim of someone’s view of who I am! So if you call me arrogant, don’t be surprised when I respond “Gee thanks for noticing. I worked hard at it.”
But let’s get back to the scale and your perspective of who you are and where you fall on this line.
I’ve studied my entire adult life on matters of religion and spirituality. I think I have a fairly good understanding of religions and spirituality in general. I definitely have an understanding of paganism, metaphysics and of course my spiritual path of Pagan Metaphysics. In fact, I’m comfortable with being called an expert in these latter three topics.
So yes, I have a well-formed level of confidence in my abilities, knowledge, skills, understanding and experience of Paganism, Metaphysics and Pagan Metaphysics. And I’d even throw in general Spirituality in there too. I think I’ve earned that perspective.
I don’t think it was given to me on a platter, nor is it a perspective that I woke up one day and claimed as my own. It was earned over decades of study, research, practice, introspection, being honest with myself and feedback from those I’ve worked with, served, counseled and taught. I think it’s a healthy level of ego with a dash of humility tossed in when appropriate.
What does when appropriate mean? When someone thanks you for the information you shared and what they have learned from you, or because they had their own personal “Ah-ha” moments, do you really think you’re the one who made that happen? Really? You can’t learn lessons for other people. Nor can you make them listen and understand. All you can do is share your knowledge and leave the hard work up to them. They must take it in and apply it to their mind and consciousness. You really had little to do with it. Understanding that, is understanding humility.
You did the work, make sure you’re thanking yourself. It’s easy to write and talk your head off from now until sunset about spirituality or anything really. The hard part is listening and being brave enough to look within yourself and applying what rings true to you and setting the rest aside. Even if you later pick up the other information you put away, you’re still the one who has done the real hard work. Looking within is not an easy thing. Accepting that there needs to be alterations to your thinking isn’t an easy thing. Then actually making that change…. wow. Change is not easy! So give yourself some credit. No, give yourself a lot of credit for being brave and having the courage to look within and changing to become a better YOU!
Now does this confidence in my ability to teach what I’ve learned and share my perspectives make me arrogant? Well doesn’t that depend on how you view your own knowledge? If you feel the need to defend your path with passion (or emotional anger), then perhaps you don’t have the confidence in your beliefs that you thought you did. Can your views be held up to scrutiny of facts, history or what has been written by scholars or even written in the original source material of your views?
Perhaps you’re seeing arrogance and closing off from further discussion because the perspectives being put forth contradict your view and shake the foundation of what you thought you understood. Shouldn’t that be a good thing? Wouldn’t that suggest there’s something about the topic that you don’t know or have missed and perhaps need to think about? Then decide if what you thought you knew should evolve a little or maybe even a lot.
New views don’t shake the foundation of belief, they expand it. New perspectives challenge your concepts and force you to widen your views and your understandings. There’s nothing wrong with that. Change is a good thing most of the time. It keeps us going forward, inspires us to learn more and encourages us to reach for enlightenment and wisdom. Expanding your views or altering your perspectives doesn’t make you ‘wrong’ in your original thinking; it makes you better educated and knowledgeable. ~ Something I wrote in March 2012: Living A Life of Confidence or Insecurity.
No one knows everything. I’ve said before here on my blog that I don’t know everything. I’m not so closed-minded as to think I don’t have more to learn. That’s another part of humility by the way. Being able to admit your limitations allows you to still have confidence in your own knowledge and ability. If you have a healthy ego, you can admit your short comings and not allow those to impact your confidence. And..by the way..it’s ok not to know everything. Really, it is.
I have confidence in what I do know. I’ve done my homework, my research, I’ve put it into practice and I’ve gone through the experiences that have validated my study for me. Or that have shown me that I didn’t get that research right, or that this area of information doesn’t resonate with me. I have proven my abilities to myself and I’m proud of the work and experiences I’ve had that have gotten me to this place in my life. I have moved past the need for outside validation from others. So you can call me what you want; it’s a label that defines your own short comings, not mine.
Some people say this view comes with age. But I’ve come to believe that it comes with experiences. Going through hardship on varying levels forces individuals to grow up at varying speeds. I know some very wise 20-somethings who have faced hardships and struggles that some 60 somethings have never even thought of, much less gone through. They are wise beyond their years, as the saying goes. And consequently I know some 50 and 60 year old’s, who have virtually had life handed to them on a platter and still act and react as if they were in high-school.
What ever level you are on the scale, or in your own life study and journey through knowledge and awareness, the biggest lesson you can learn is to believe in yourself. Be open to new perspectives and allow them to stand up or not, against your own views and knowledge with an eye of honest scrutiny. If your views don’t survive the comparison or test, then don’t be afraid to look within yourself and figure out how the information impacts your views. You still may not agree with the new perspective, but at least you know that your view is missing something and more research and study needs to be done.
Allow your ideas to evolve and expand. Allow your perspectives to grow and speed your journey forward toward the enlightenment you seek in your own life. You can do it, if you allow yourself to look beyond the aspects of personality and how a message may have been delivered. In fact, if you do get annoyed with something and think someone is arrogant, that’s a clear sign that something within yourself needs to be examined. Don’t look at them and point fingers or call them names. Look in a mirror and decide what within yourself has failed. And what needs to be changed to improve your vision and perspective.
© 2014 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.