Inspired by a line from Carole King’s song, Your So Vain - you’re so arrogant, you probably DON’T think this article is about you!
Oh my, what a huge subject. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, arrogance means: an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions.
Recognizing arrogance and the limitations that exist inherently within this personality trait is very tricky. A boat load of courage is required to be willing to step away from this deeply imbedded way of being. Or even to admit the possibility that it exists. Why? Mostly because arrogance is a ‘self’ centric way of being.
Let’s be clear also, that self-confidence might look like arrogance at times, but self-confidence usually demonstrates itself in a way that invites others to bask in the success of the one demonstrating it, and it makes room for many to play together. One who is displaying arrogance will gather fans and groupies, but not necessary individuals who are equally strong. For one to maintain their arrogance, they must have an audience, that they can basically dismiss at will. Individuals who display this personality trait do not want to be a team member or be questioned about their intentions.
Being arrogant can leave one living a very isolated life, except, of course, the fans that are gathered. But more often then not, they are not living a life of collaboration, they must call the shots and feel in charge. I have seen arrogance demonstrated in individuals and in groups. Yes, there are religious, spiritual, and cultural groups that get caught up in groupthink about who they ‘think’ they are and their influence upon the world around them. It is just as important to look at arrogance in groups as it is in an individual.
Learning to recognize the signs of your own arrogance is not simple. Cut and past this link for an article about 15 signs of arrogance:
Learning to recognize the signs of arrogance is step one, choosing to evolve is another whole question. What I have learned from my own journey is this, as I began to notice my behavior, and recognize the places where I was arrogant, I also began to feel the weight of this inflexible and very heavy role. As I became willing to be teachable, to receive feedback, and to be more available, my life expression became lighter, more open, and more loving. This does not indicate at all that I always agree or that I surrender my opinions, but I am now willing to listen, to see, and to grow out of this limiting personality trait where it existed within.
Quick story, a couple of years ago we rented a Christian Retreat Center who informed us that we were not welcome back because we were just not Christian enough. I wrote them a respectful letter but one that stated my disappointment, but also stated that I respected their point of view and it is too bad that we can’t play together in the world considering we were both dedicated to serving humanity. I bless them and left them alone. Come forward two years. I just received a phone call from their facilities manager who regretted our parting and wanted to offer a possible solution. We will be in conversation at a later day. Why I mention this story is this: they collectively moved out of the arrogance of their Charter to make room for individuals that walk a different path. How wonderful was that! I thanked him and honored him for his, and their, willingness. The arrogance that created the initial separation has now evolved and we, two different philosophical organizations, will once again be in conversation.
This is what arrogance looks like as it matures. It looks like love and possibility and collaboration.
In closing, if you are a committed arrogant individual then you probably already stopped reading, BUT if you are seeking to be spiritually mature, there’s a lot of room for progress. Ask for feedback, listen to your inner voice, look for where you are dismissive. If you know someone that you want to love, but their arrogance is in the way, love them anyway, have compassion for them. Their arrogance is born out of their not-enoughness, the last thing they need is more people finding fault with them. Or, is this more arrogance speaking? The mind and the ego are very tricky places.