Self-righteousness is a sneaky little son of a bitch, isn’t it?
When it comes to personal growth, many of us fall prey to the trap of self-righteousness when we get super excited about discovering a new way of doing things. We find ourselves frustrated at those who aren’t “awake” to certain ideas. Judgment and the false sense of superiority that typically accompanies self-righteousness start to rear their ugly heads.
In the moments when I feel these impulses bubble up within me, there are a few things I try to remind myself of:
First, I remind myself that we are all on our own path and we have our own timing at which we navigate through that path. How we navigate through our path is based on many factors: our conditioning, habits, how we were raised/treated by our family, our perception of that treatment (or any other information thrown at us throughout our lives for that matter), etc. With so many variables to consider, it’s completely unrealistic to expect someone else’s path to look exactly like our own.
Second, I remember the glass house. Remember that saying, “Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”? Well, if we’re human, every single one of us lives in a house made of glass. They may not look the same based on our own unique path, but it’s still a glass house. We all have a past, things we have done that we’re not proud of, mistakes that we have made, mistakes that we will continue to make. So, I try my best to make a conscious effort to look at my own glass house and leave the stones on the floor where they belong.
Third, I think of the moments on my own path when, not only was I “sleeping”, but “sleeping and blindfolded”. I think of the reasons why I was “sleeping”, and most of the time it was because I was suffering in some way. This allows me to jump right back into my humility and humanity. It offers the space for me to say, “Yup, I’ve been there” so I can offer compassion and support, rather than judgment and condemnation.
Speaking of which, there’s one more thing I remind myself of, something I’ve learned through personal experience from being on the giving and receiving end of it: when it comes to inspiring others, judgment and condemnation simply doesn’t work – it just puts people off and pushes them away.
What I found does work, however – again, through my own personal experience of being on the giving and receiving end of it – is offering compassion, empathy and support. That, and leading by example.
I know for me personally, those who I’m inspired by are those who have had their own set of challenges, who persevered through those challenges, who had the strength to be vulnerable and humble in sharing those challenges in order to inspire others, who are relatable and who embody the very qualities that I strive for in my own life.
On the other hand, those who attempt to manifest change by condemning, judging and making others feel inferior because of their choices – well, if we’re being completely honest here, I want to tell them to go fuck themselves. But it is at that moment when I also have to remind myself that those who feel the need to condemn, judge and make others feel inferior to get their point across are probably doing so because they are suffering in some way too – I know this because I’ve been guilty of this as well.
There’s a reason why Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” People aren’t inspired to change from one’s opinion – they’re inspired by one’s example.