25 Amusing Human Arrogances to Laugh at in Ourselves

We all have them. Let's put them on the table so we can keep our eyes on them.

Posted Jan 15, 2020

I’ve never met anyone immune to the appeal of each of the arrogances listed below. They’re easy, fun, and harmless if constrained through serious attention. They bolster our self-esteem, usually at the expense of others. They float our boats but often make the waters choppy for others. 

They’re narcissistic but really, who among us isn’t at least a bit narcissistic? How would we not be? By pledging to be selfless from now on? Ridiculous. It’s narcissistic to think we have that kind of cognitive control over our human appetites, as though we could just decide to be superhumanly selfless and, voila, suddenly we are.

As Stevie Wonder sang, “Everybody’s got a thing, but some don’t know how to handle it.” We all have egos. They’re not going away until we die. We are, after all, selves. Selves will be self-ish. Still, as Stevie notes, we do need to know how to handle our thing. 

Some think the way to handle selfish arrogant egotism is to hide and scorn it. Bite your tongue. Swear off all arrogance forever. If you pretend you don’t have it, maybe yours will go away.

Maybe, but no. 

I say expose and universalize it. Put your selfish arrogant ego on the table so you and others can keep an eye on it. And then hang out with other people who put theirs on the table, too. That way, you can all laugh at each other with each other, embracing the human condition including our selfish, egotistical, pep-talking and score-keeping.

In other words, tease yourself about these temptations. Laugh at yourself when you spot them surfacing in your response. Don’t deny them; admit to them like those charming, charismatic sitcom characters who give light voice to their human impulses. 

Here’s a list of all-too-human arrogances:

  1. Thinking we'd easily solve problems we don't have.
  2. Thinking we'd easily manage large groups we don't manage.
  3. Thinking we knew this would happen after it happened.
  4. Thinking that we were right because they were wrong.
  5. Thinking that the more contempt we have for a trait in others, the more exempt we are from having that trait.
  6. Thinking we see the whole picture.
  7. Thinking we're the inclusive ones, unlike others.
  8. Thinking that we’re not hyper-sensitive because other people are hyper-sensitive about things we aren't.
  9. Thinking we’re not crass because others are crass about things we aren't.
  10. Thinking we're entitled to authority because of our passionate commitment to ideas that, look around, pretty much everyone else shares.
  11. Thinking that bias is a rare disease we don't have and that therefore can see reality unfiltered by our own appetites.
  12. Thinking our ideas are superior because the alternatives are simplifications that don't cover everything.
  13. Thinking we've seen the light and now know what's right and righteous.
  14. Thinking we're more realistic than other people.
  15. Claiming to have virtues because they sound good and we like ourselves.
  16. Denying we have vices because they sound bad and we like ourselves.
  17. Being outraged that someone would accuse us of a human trait from which there is no reason we would be exempt other than that we like ourselves.
  18. Thinking our outrage at others makes us pure.
  19. Thinking an old bad habit is gone forever and can't come back in different guises.
  20. Thinking that our self-talk is our walk, that what we say flatteringly about our behavior must be true. 
  21. Making proud claims about the unknowable that came to us in a vision or revelation.
  22. Thinking that our big revelation/breakthrough solves things once and for all and therefore will be our last.
  23. Pretending that we’re totally open-minded as if, unlike others, we actually welcome all the hard costly work of having to change our minds. 
  24. Thinking there must be a good reason or at least a plausible excuse for everything we do. 
  25. Thinking that we're not rationalizing because we are good at detecting other people's rationalizations.

    And one more for good measure:
  26. Indulging in unrealistic, supernatural, magical thinking when free and safe. No, leave those comforting therapeutic illusions to those whose lives are harder and therefore can't afford to face as much reality as we can.