Thursday, September 08, 2011

Confidence Vs Arrogance

Confidence and arrogance can sometimes be hard to distinguish, especially when we are looking at each within ourselves. How do I know when I am doing something because I believe I am good at something as opposed to doing something because I believe I am good at everything?

Confidence usually stems from an acknowledgment of both strength as well as weakness. I know what I am good at, but I also know what I am not good at it and where I make mistakes. Arrogance usually stems from an illusion that tells the individual to focus on a particular strength that they have in denial of any weakness within themselves while seeing only what is weak or wrong in others in order to further their sense of foolish pride. The overlap of the specific strength that is being valued in both frames is what leads to potential confusion.

From an Islamic standpoint, simply put, confidence is good and arrogance is bad. The latter encompasses a characteristic that is embodied by Iblees (Satan), the proper name given to the devil and eventually leads to his being cast out of heaven. What is important to understand is Iblees never says he is arrogant, the value is assigned to him because of what he does and he doesn't really ask for perspective or feedback on his actions.

If you are aware of your humility, then you are arrogant ~ From the Hikaam of Ibn Ata'illah, 13th century Muslim Theologian

Our understanding of whether we are arrogant or confident, and most other values such as honest, trustworthy, patient, etc., are not able to be self-assigned. It's the world around us that gives us indication as to whether we are good or not, not we ourselves. We should be comfortable in asking those that we trust what they think about the way we treat others or how we carry ourselves. It's not something that should be asked of just anyone, but someone who knows you intimately enough to give you advice where you are coming from, not from what they have been through, and who you respect their opinion and advice enough to not be offended by what they might have to say.

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