Updated: Jul 13
Confidence versus arrogance and why understanding the difference matters.
Whenever people think about their own confidence, one of the first things that comes up is the fear of becoming arrogant. It's like those rising road bollards: you can see where you want to be, but suddenly you're prevented from getting there under the guise of protecting yourself.
We are taught that confidence and arrogance are two sides of the same coin, and we need to be careful not to slip the wrong way. But I think that they are emotions facing completely different directions.
Confidence is a belief in your capacity and abilities, and arrogance determines your worth by thinking you're better than others. Confidence is the driving force behind success. Confidence is the belief in oneself and one's abilities. It is the cornerstone of personal and professional success. Also, it is possible to have fluke achievements when you're being a dick, but it is impossible to achieve consistency in yourself.
Confidence allows us to take risks, pursue our passions, and overcome obstacles. When we're confident, we feel capable and competent and have the courage to face challenges head on. Competence is a vital component of personal growth and development and can have a profound impact on relationships, careers and overall well being. And it is also a bit of a dark art. Everyone tells you that you SHOULD have but very few people teach you how to achieve it.
It's almost like we subtly told that is some genetic trait that we either have or don't have. But the brain is hardwired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Confidence is one of the key factors that influence our behaviour. When we are confident our brain releases a cocktail of feel good chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. These chemicals help us feel more positive and motivated which can, in turn, improve our performance enhance our ability to achieve our goals and most importantly, stop the dreaded need to constantly criticise ourselves in the hope that it will motivate us to do better or work harder to reassure us.
In addition to release a feel good chemicals confidence also affects the way that we think and act. Confidence can enhance our cognitive processes enabling us think more creatively and critically, it can improve our decision making skills, allowing us to make bold informed choices with rather than ones we think are befitting of someone like us, or our capabilities.
Arrogance is a roadblock. Arrogance is a slim sheen on superiority. It is the opinion that your take on things and abilities are always right. It leaves no room for curiosity and no space for learning. Arrogance can limited potential and the harm our relationships. Unlike confidence, arrogance does not stem from a healthy sense of self worth. Instead, it is rooted in insecurity and the need to provide to prove oneself to others. Arrogance reduces stress hormones such as cortisol which can impair our ability to make good decisions clearly. Arrogance can also harm our relationships and can make us appear less approachable, and empathetic, which can lead to conflicts and misunderstandings. Whoever thought "I really love that person. They're so arrogant"?
So how do you build this belief in yourself? Start small by acknowledging all the things that you can do and do accomplish. Nothing is too small. Tied your shoelaces? Wicked. Made a decent cup of tea? Excellent work. Read this far into a blog? You're doing fabulously. Notice where you want to diminish your achievement as not being big enough or significant enough, and think about how much more difficult it is to cultivate a decent learning environment if you're constantly being yelled at because you weren't doing good enough. It becomes to cultivate a sense of achievement if you're constantly being yelled at because you weren't doing good enough. It's not exactly a hospitable learning environment. But that's exactly what we create whenever we criticise ourselves or say we should have done something better.
See also: Favourite remixes such as:
I shouldn't have said that.
What are they thinking about me?
Everyone else knows how to do this.
Where did you put your keys, you idiot?
And I'm crap at maths.
By finding and celebrating these tiny wins, you teach your brain that it's okay to praise yourself without disaster ensuing. It is a habit to build upon, and each time you do it, it becomes a little easier not to reject that praise is possible and the praise could actually be helpful. Think of confidence like payers of paint. And if we're going to stick with this analogy, then arrogance is like paint stripper. With each layer, the colour becomes bolder, stronger and more distinct. And the more you allow yourself and your true colours to shine, the more of your authentic self you will feel.