“Don’t be a show off!”
“C’mon, you’ve got skills! You should show ’em off!”
At one time or another, we’ve heard, thought or said both of these or some similar variation. Seems rather contradictory. We look down upon arrogance and bragging, but then we turn around and encourage it as part of self-esteem and being admired. We all love to be admired for our gifts, talents and features. So what’s the difference? When is it good to show off our stuff, and when is it bad?
I’ve gotta admit that sometimes animated kids shows and movies have more fun ways of illustrating these kinds of lessons. I could give real life stories, but some of those have already been simplified into more entertaining characters and situations that make the difference easier to understand. Two good ones that come to mind are The Emperor’s New Groove and one of the episodes of the new My Little Pony series. Don’t judge me! Wait… we covered judgment already in a previous post. Anyway, if you haven’t seen those cartoons, they are worth watching. Very entertaining ways to illustrate good principles.
Emperor Cusco in The Emperor’s New Groove illustrates the kind of “show off” that we don’t like. He allows his status and power to make him feel better than everyone else and treats others as if they owe him everything just because of his position. He shows contempt for the needs and feelings of others and is consumed with himself. Of course, this isn’t to say that he doesn’t actually have unique abilities & opportunities. He has a position worthy of respect and with the ability to make a real difference in people’s lives, but he misuses the power for solely his own benefit. He has to learn the hard way how to humble himself and use his gifts to help others.
In My Little Pony, there is an episode where one of the main characters who has special talents in magic struggles with the difference between bragging on her abilities and acknowledging her skills and using them in a positive way. She saw another pony who was bragging and even exaggerating her own abilities just to put other ponies down and look better than everyone. She was showing off just to feel superior. However, when she saw that pony showing off and noticed how everyone else was becoming angry and resentful of the bragging pony, she was afraid to stand up to that pony because she didn’t want to be seen as bragging also. She had better skills than the pony who was acting arrogant, but she wouldn’t stand up for herself or her friends because she thought they would get angry at her too if she were to “show off” what she is capable of. Trust me, it’s worth watching if you haven’t seen it.
Needless to say, she eventually learned that there is a big difference between showing off your abilities or features just to feel superior, and showing off in positive ways that acknowledge your wonderful talents but also encourage and inspire others in the process, rather than making others feel inferior or incapable. There is nothing wrong with being proud of who you are and what you can do as long as that pride doesn’t start making you feel like you are deserving of extra special treatment or recognition. People are much more enthusiastic about praising the abilities of someone who doesn’t feel the need for recognition than someone who is always praising themselves. When people praise themselves a lot, others may take more delight in seeing their arrogance deflated and watching them go through a situation where they can’t praise themselves.
In summary, don’t be afraid to be yourself and use the wonderful gifts you’ve been given, but be careful not to let it go to your head so that people will want to see you praised and admired, rather than humbled. If you humble yourself, you’ll be praised. If you praise yourself, you’ll be humbled.
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