Posted by: Judy | April 6, 2015

Fine Lines…

As I work to embrace the Atonement and become a better person, I worry.

Arrogance is one of my weaknesses. I’ve been taught well. It helps me to think of it in terms of “Don’t get cocky, kid.” But I do it anyway.

It’s confusing. I was belittled… I was taught I was worthless.

So where does this “I’m better than you” come from?

Maybe it’s an effort to prove to myself I have some worth… That makes more sense. It was the example with which I was raised. Now, I struggle to root it out of my life. The insults were usually backhanded compliments or subtle or covert. Sneaky. I learned well…

And yet I believed I’m stupid.

Messed up.

The jig is up, and I’m learning new, healthier ways of behaving and interacting with others. I’m not perfect, but I’m doing better than I have in the past.

I’m endeavoring to learn the difference between being arrogant and being self-confident or self-assured. I’m not sure if there’s a difference between the latter two. Under the definition of ‘self-assurance’ the first thing listed in ‘self-confidence.’ So maybe it’s one in the same, simply another way of saying the same thing. The thesauruses find.

What brought this to the forefront of my concerns right now?

I pray for God’s inspiration when I write. I’m proud of my work. I put in the time and effort. I endeavor to listen to the gentle prompting to add this or that and cut this or that. I want to give God the glory, but I know I worked hard.

When do I cross the line from acknowledging my efforts to preening?

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Responses

  1. The word arrogant it just about the last word I’d think of to describe you.

    • Thank you. 🙂 I’ve hurt a few sweet people, when I was much younger and still unaware of the insanity in my life. It’s a side I endeavor to keep only as a thought and only rarely.

      • Eh, we’ve all said things we regret (except for narcissists — they blame rather than regret). Mistakes don’t make you a bad person unless you keep repeating them. You’re a beautiful work in progress.

        • Thank you, and included you in the comment below. 🙂

  2. I haven’t been directly involved with the church in any way for quite a while now, (other than when I spent a lot of time taking my mom to church in the years before she passed away), but I remember a sermon that talked about arrogance. It spoke of having a serving heart, in that anything you accomplish is done by using the gifts bestowed by God, so when we take a moment to acknowledge our victories, we are really acknowledging the God that resides in each of us. According to the sermon, we are only exhibiting arrogance if we fail to acknowledge that it all begins and ends with God.

    I spent many, many years believing I was worthless and unlovable. I had no voice. I expected and accepted various tragedies in my life, because I believed I deserved nothing more. It was only after I began learning how to recognize my own strength that I started to believe in my own worth, and during that process, I had to get comfortable with sometimes acknowledging how awesome I could be, especially as it pertained to healing. All these years later, there is still some part of me that believes that any time I give myself any credit at all for surviving, that I’m being arrogant.

    It can be a delicate balance; believing in yourself, acknowledging your accomplishments, and yet still remaining humble and gracious. I guess it comes down to the dialogue in our heads. If we’re trying to build our confidence, that’s one thing, but if we’ve allowed ourselves to believe we’re superior, then we’ve gone too far. Everything in life, it seems, is about balance. 🙂

    • One more thing: In my case, one of the things I work on constantly is the belief that I’m smarter than most people. Ironically, I grew up in a home where my older sister was truly genius-smart, in that she earned high marks in school without even cracking open a book. Her intelligence was like a bright glow that followed her everywhere, and I grew up being the dumb sister. The one that spent hours and hours studying, struggling to get passing marks.

      As I made my way into the adult world, I constantly scratched and fought to become smarter, whether that meant book smart or street smart. I craved knowledge like a heroin addict craves the needle. I read everything I could get my hands on, and studied all sorts of things, always trying to cram more information into my head. The whole time, without realizing it, I was just trying to become smarter than my sister. I didn’t want to be the dumb sister anymore.

      I never did manage to surpass my sister, (she’s still scarily smarter than anyone I’ve ever met), but in the process, I did get smarter than some folks. I also found out that I was never really dumb at all, and that that was just one of those false messages that had been painted across my psyche, which meant that I needed to adjust my way of thinking, and let go of the whole “stupid sister” belief.

      The next challenge was to not use my intelligence as a weapon against others, or to allow myself to accidentally put myself on any sort of pedestal. I might have a larger vocabulary than most folks, and I might have lots of experience living on the meaner side of the street of life, but in some ways, I’m still in the infancy stages of knowledge and learning. I try to remember that, especially when I catch myself puffing up my chest about being intelligent. The smartest people I know live with humility. Good to remember.

      • I also complained about being the dumb one. Yes, geniuses in my family as well. My SIL and my sister developed the habit of saying, “Think of who you’re comparing yourself to.” And I need to remember that I’m able to keep up in the conversation.

    • The concept of always acknowledging God in the process is helpful. I’m learning to do that. Combining Judith’s comment and yours, it’s that I sometimes forget God and occasionally brag, “I did that.” I did, with God’s help. Some of the “I did that” is actually acknowledging my own effort, which isn’t a bad thing.

      What I need to remember is that tearing myself down is not the opposite of arrogant. Recognizing the good in myself is, in fact, recognizing the bit of God within me. Wow.

      Thank you! ((ntexas99)) ((Judith))

      • This was brilliant: “tearing myself down is not the opposite of arrogant”. I feel like I really needed to hear that today, so thank you! Brilliant!

        • We make a good team. 🙂 Thanks for being on My Team!

  3. Acknowledging achievement is a Christ like attribute. He said that he was the Son of God and those around him proclaimed blaspheme. He was stating fact. False modesty diminishes who we are without uplifting anyone else. I think every healthy person claims their work. Those that love God bend their knees and thank Him for the gifts that make it possible. I am learning that arrogant is referring to the inflating of ones ego with the intent of diminishing someone else. You are a great writer. I love your stories. In my opinion, if you say you are a great writer, it is not arrogant. Not inflating anything. 🙂

    • Thanks ((Ruth))


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