Confident or Arrogant?

Posted by Jacinta Hin on May 20, 2007

Over lunch the other day my friend explained how arrogant he was before coming to Japan and that his experiences here have really humbled him. He went from a big body to a nobody to a somebody. Today he operates from confidence. He feels confident about who he is and in what he does. Yet he recognizes a tendency within himself to slide back into arrogance; when that happens he gets careless.

I recognize a similar tendency in myself. I would not call myself arrogant, but I do have moments I feel so on top of things I stop learning, looking and being curious.

From confidence we can slip into arrogance and arrogance can transform into confidence. This shifting and slipping between different expressions of the same tendency is something we all do. I, for instance, can easily fall into self-absorption. I am an introvert and naturally look for information and confirmation internally, inside of myself. The moment I stay there too long I get caught in my own thoughts and disconnect from the world around me.

It is not a question of what is good or bad, but of what works better for you. What makes you content, efficient and successful? Self-absorption does not work well for me, arrogance does not work well for my friend.

It is also not possible to be in a permanent state of confidence, just like I cannot avoid my moments of self-absorption. Life is, as my teacher so beautifully said during a workshop yesterday, “about balancing, not being in balance”.

But the more aware we are of our tendencies, the more skilfully we can manage the shifting and slipping. At some point it will become a matter of deliberate choice.

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