When I was 12 years old, the entire ensemble of my female classmates sat me down during recess and unanimously rejected me as a friend.
I had always known that I wasn’t the most popular girl in class. But in that very moment I became an exile. Persona non grata. Outcast, unwanted, unacceptable. And the reason they gave was simple.
I was too arrogant.
Thought I was better than they were. Looked down on them.
Which left me puzzled, shocked and confused. All my life I had struggled with low self-worth, considered myself inferior to others. Irrelevant, not good enough. A lesser human being.
How could anybody believe I was arrogant? How could I look down on others from my lowly position amidst a world of superiors?
For years, the accusation haunted me. Stopped me from increasing my self-worth and improving my confidence. For fear I would be rejected once more for my alleged arrogance.
And still sometimes today, when I feel particularly good about myself, I tend to caution myself not to show it. I conceal the fact that I feel worthy, strong and confident. So, I won’t appear arrogant.
Because I suspect that, all those years ago, my classmates’ charges might have been justified.
Especially if our self-worth is low, we may experience disrespect, arrogant behaviour and presumption directed against us. We meet people who think they are better than we are. And demonstrate it at every opportunity.
We become victims of arrogance. Detesting and resenting the perpetrators for their judgement. Which diminishes our worth even further.
But how often are we guilty of looking down on others? If we are honest with ourselves.
Don’t you sometimes feel better about yourself just because somebody else appears inferior to you? Doesn’t it occasionally comfort you to realise that you are not the lowest of creatures? To look down on someone from a rare position of superiority?
I know I did.
And do you feel ashamed for it?
Believing that you are a horrible person for being critical, judgemental and condescending towards others (even if it’s only in your mind). When you know full well how much it hurts.
Then it might console you that you are not an arrogant, condescending, self-important bastard! And neither am I.
We are all just victims of a disastrous misconception that stops us from seeing the truth.
You see, in a society where our worth is defined by external standards, we categorise people into different levels of worthiness. Depending on the degree they fulfil criteria such as possessions, status, success, purpose, accomplishments, qualifications, beauty, skills etc.
And we quantify our own worth by comparing our achievements and attributes to those of others. As such, we will inevitably encounter people who are "better" and those who are "worse" at meeting the benchmarks of a worthy existence.
Thus, making them worth more or less than we are.
Now, this is no excuse for treating others with derision, condescension or disrespect. But a certain level of arrogance and an "I am better than you" mentality are natural, if undesirable, side effects of defining our own level of worthiness.
On a worth league table based on our accomplishments and usefulness for society, there will always be people above us. And below us.
But the thing is, that our rank in the worth hierarchy is an illusion. The greatest misunderstanding of our time. Causing unspeakable suffering and a vast array of needless struggles, hardship and misery.
Because our worth is not defined through external factors. It doesn’t depend on what we have, gain or earn. It simply originates in our being.
We are, therefore we ARE worth. 100 %. Now and forever.
And that’s a game changer.
For many years I worked on my self-worth. Countless times I repeated "I AM worth the same as everybody else" to myself. So, I wouldn’t feel inferior to others.
But it took me a long time to understand that there are two sides to this mantra. That it also means that I am no better than others. No more important, valuable or deserving.
That we are all equal in worth. All identical in deservedness of love, respect and acceptance. We might all be vastly different as individuals. But our true, inner worth remains absolute.
No matter who we are, what we do or how we look. We ARE worth. The same as everybody else. None better, none worse. No exceptions.
And this particular knowledge of our true worth is the key to dealing with all arrogance.
No matter whether arrogance is directed towards you or whether you are dishing it out to others, it is always rooted in the misguided belief that humans have no inherent worth.
And that we are worth more or less depending on our ability to gain, earn and accumulate worth.
And society makes the rules. Dictates the criteria. Provides a nice little guide on how worthy we can expect to be. Considering our achievements, wealth, gender, race, popularity etc.
We all want to feel worthy. Be deserving of love, appreciation and happiness. So, the pursuit of worth becomes our life’s true goal. And the only way to measure the level of worth we achieved, is to compare our worth to that of others.
Arrogance is a mere by-product of this measurement. If we are better than others, we must be doing something right. We must be on our way to be worthy.
So, in reality, arrogance is a sign of low self-worth. A futile attempt to feel better about ourselves by looking down on others. A reassurance that, despite feeling worthless, we are not the lowest in the ranks.
And it’s all caused by the tragic fact that we forgot our true, infinite, innate worth.
As such, the best (and only) way to deal with arrogance, is to remember that we ARE worth personified. And that we ARE all worth the same.
Just imagine a world where everybody knew they are 100% worthy. Where everybody realised that nobody is worthless, none different in inherent worth.
I reckon the world would be a happier place.
If only we all knew our true worth. And that of others...