A few years ago, I blogged about “13 habits that can ruin a first impression,” which prompted a reader to ask me to write more specifically about arrogance vs. confidence.
At that time, I had started reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, “Big Magic,” which basically featured an entire chapter about this very topic.
Before I get into it, I want to be very clear with you in understanding that it truly is all about belief: belief in yourself, in others, in what you value, and in how you want others to value you.
In my opinion, believing is what gives you the confidence to keep at whatever you’ve set out to do, to pursue, and to accomplish. Arrogance comes into play by interpretation, by perception, by assumption, by someone else’s belief about you and what you are doing, by what you believe someone else thinks about you, etc. Make sense? Let’s get to it…
Gilbert begins the chapter by explaining the negative connotations of the word “entitlement,” but that there are times when we really need a bit of entitlement and that it can be put to good use. You will never be able to create anything interesting out of your life if you don’t believe that you’re entitled to at least try. Does that make sense? If you don’t believe you have the right to try, you’ve already lost.
According to Gilbert, David Whyte has a fantastic name for this sense of creative entitlement: ‘The Arrogance of Belonging.’ “Without ‘the arrogance of belonging,’ you will never be able take any creative risks whatsoever. Without it, you will never push yourself out of the suffocating insulation of personal safety, and into the frontiers of the beautiful and the unexpected.”
This belief is not about arrogance, egotism, or self-absorption. It’s exactly the opposite, in fact. It’s a force that will take you out of yourself and allow you to engage more fully with the world.
What often keeps us from living our most creative, adventurous, and expressive life is our self-absorption (meaning: self-doubt, self-disgust, self-judgment, and that crushing sense of self-protection).
The arrogance of belonging pulls you out of the darkest depths of self-hatred—not by saying, “I am the greatest!” but merely by saying, “I exist.”
Gilbert asks the following questions, and I’d like to challenge you to sit with them a bit and ask yourself:
- How entitled do you feel to exist?
- How entitled to do you feel to create, to invent, to change, to engage with this world, to move, to grow, to take risks, to have a voice and a vision of your own?
- Has there been a particular moment in your life when you stood tall and brave in your own existence at last?
- Was there a moment in your life when you finally allowed yourself to embrace the arrogance of belonging?
- If you’ve never claimed your existence—never claimed your belonging—what would it take to do so?
- What would you do with your existenceif you ever allowed yourself to fully take ownership of it?
- What would you be (and what would you make) if you were allowed to fully exist?
Arrogance by definition means exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one’s own worth or importance. Confidence is the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust. Do you see the difference? Why wouldn’t you rely and/or have firm trust in yourself?
Arrogance compels you to bully others, and to seek to dominate and control. It’s actually a reflection of the fear of being controlled. Arrogance finds it hard to admit being wrong; it attaches itself to false beliefs. Arrogance does not allow you to experience life because it closes you up to new experiences.
Confidence, on the other hand, allows you to get to know yourself. Begin by listening to your thoughts and to speak kindly to yourself. Journaling is a great self-discovery tool and can help you analyze your thoughts.
Confidence focuses on the good things about yourself, the things you can do well, the things you like. If you dig deep within yourself, you’ll find more good than you ever thought possible. And that alone powers influence.
When you place your value on the opinions and beliefs of others, more than on the ones you have about yourself, try to remember what Terry Cole wrote: “What you think of me is none of my business.”
You have a God-given right to happiness, wealth, and success. Liberate yourself from false beliefs and you will discover your own path—the route to your talents and limitless potential. Your time is now!
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