How Arrogance Prevents Connection

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How Arrogance Prevents Connection

by Paul Garrigan

The thing that allowed me to finally begin to let go of my own arrogance was the realization that I didn’t need to be better than other people – I just needed to be at peace with who I was.

The Importance of Connection

Clients walking to meditation at Hope Rehab Thailand

This ability to form meaningful connections with other humans is vital for anyone trying to break free of an addiction problem. After all, it may have been the capacity of drugs to help us feel temporarily comfortable around others that attracted us to these substances in the first place. We need to feel connected in in other to experience well-being and without it we begin to wither and die. One thing that can prevent us from developing close relationships with other people is arrogance, so let’s take a look at this behavior.

What is Arrogance?

Arrogance involves looking down on other people as if we are somehow superior to them. This can be a behavior that we develop in response to the feeling of being inferior to others. It can start out as an attempt to prove to other people (and to ourselves) that we are worthy of respect and admiration. Arrogance can also be used as a kind of barrier to prevent others from hurting us (e.g. ‘I don’t care what they think, I’m better than them).

Common Signs of Arrogance

  • A feeling of superiority (i.e. looking down on other people).

  • Inability to handle criticism.

  • Hijacking conversations – can we talk about Me now.

  • Being highly judgmental of other people’s behavior.

  • Constantly offering unsolicited advice.

  • Being overly-opinionated.

  • Ignoring other people’s point of view.

  • Not appreciating other people.

  • Finding it hard to apologize.

  • Responding badly to any signs of not being liked by another human.

My Own Struggles with Arrogance

Arrogance was a behavior that I picked up in childhood. There was never a conscious decision to look down on other people, it was just a response I developed due to a lack of self-confidence and the desire to be liked. I had a deep yearning for connection, but I mistakenly picked up a behavior that made such connection impossible. The thing that allowed me to finally begin to let go of my own arrogance was the realization that I didn’t need to be better than other people – I just needed to be at peace with who I was.

How Arrogance Prevents Connection

Surprisingly enough, most people don’t respond well to our attempts to make them seem inferior to us. It can make us hard to be around, and our behavior may even be damaging to others. This sense of superiority not only gets in the way of other people feeling close to us, but it also means we don’t feel connected to them. It is just not possible to have a meaningful connection with someone we look down on.

How to Overcome Arrogance

The first essential step to overcoming arrogance is the recognition of this behavior in ourselves. This can be difficult because part of being arrogant is the inability to handle criticism. What helped me greatly was the practice of metta (loving-kindness meditation). It was this (along with insights that arose in meditation) that allowed me to become at peace with who I am, so I no longer needed to feel better than others. (Click here for a YouTube video about my own struggles with arrogance).

Other things that may help us overcome arrogance could include:

  • Therapy/counselling.

  • Volunteering (so long as we can do this with a sense of humility).

  • Become more interested in other people (i.e. listen to them instead of trying to dominate conversations).

  • Stop treating conversations as a ‘sales pitch’ where we try to convince others of how great we are.

  • Apologize when we make a mistake (this may be hard in the beginning but it gets easier).

  • Learn to not take ourselves too seriously.

  • Start appreciating what other people have to offer.

  • Recognize that all of us humans are in the same boat.

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