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April 17th, 2021
Arrogant people take pride in themselves. Humble people take pride in other things, like family, friends.
The vectors of attention for each are in opposite directions. The narcissist is focused inwardly, the humble outwardly. We think of these two categories as definitive and mutually exclusive, but they represent two parts of a single process.
Fact is, we all start out quite arrogant and narcissistic, frankly because we are helpless. No one in their right might would bother a friend or loved one in the tremendous and destabilizing way that an infant does. That wouldn’t just be rude, that would very quickly be the end of a a relationship. Just imagine, waking a friend up at odd hours of the night, multiple times a night, by screaming and crying in a particularly irritating way. Not to mention all the other inconveniences that infants inflict upon parents. This sort of behavior in an adult would be the absolute pinnacle of arrogance and narcism. There simply is no such thing as a humble infant.
Humility comes later, if someone is lucky and open to the slings and arrows of life. It’s no surprise that a sheltered life that requires no effort often stokes arrogance and narcism. Is that because such people genuinely think they are better than others? Or is it simply due to the fact that no other perspective has been learned to replace it?
Certainly there are some psychopaths who are incapable of the sort of humility that we tend to value in people, but a lot of arrogance may simply be a lack of development in the manner that we hope people would make.
There is of course some worrisome traps along the way. The hard lessons of reality can lead to a defeated and jaded perspective on life, as though a person has one foot still stuck in the self-obsessed narcissism of infancy, bummed about their own ineffectiveness as a result of having a taste of the notion that there’s more to life than their own idea of it and the role they thought they had as the only protagonist.
A healthy sense of humility comes when a person realizes that they aren’t alone in this wide dynamic game of life. This is an insult to the narcism of course, but it also turns out to be a comfort: you aren’t alone, and the loved ones who populate our life become a source of joy and fulfillment that self-importance can never grant.