Show Off

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“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.

Kuzco

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.

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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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One thought on “Show Off

  1. It really is interesting how we often find ourselves being moved more towards a balance in almost every area in life. Even with pride. If we are humble, often those around us and even ourselves to some extent, will encourage us and help us to see our value. Those who are prideful (especially without reason) will often be reminded of their shortcomings, thereby pushing everyone towards balance once again.
    It is also incredible to see how much intention and character change a statement or trait. The statement “I give to others because it helps them” if coming from someone who has a genuine heart and wants to give what little they have to help the people around them makes it a very humble statement. That same statement coming from someone who is always bragging or talking about how wonderful they are and views themselves as better than everyone else becomes very arrogant indeed. But it is the same statement from both people.
    I heard it once said that we judge ourselves by our intentions and we judge others by their actions. I like how you talked about the good side of “showing off” with the My Little Pony story. It is important to realize that, though “showing off” can be seen as arrogant or prideful, when done with the correct motivation and attitude, can really be an inspiration to others. I once had a girlfriend that took dance lessons. We didn’t get to see much of each other so I volunteered to drive her to her lessons to spend some more time. Many times, I would stay and wait for her to finish up so I could drive her home. During one of these lessons, I watched and became very inspired by what they were doing. I had no dance training at all and couldn’t do anything they were doing, but I was so impressed that I wanted to express my appreciation somehow. I did have some skill in writing and so I wrote a small poem about the beauty I saw in their dance in the margins of a desk calendar near by. A month or so later, the dance instructor came to me and expressed how much she really liked the poem I wrote and asked if she could include it in the program of their next recital. I was shocked. I had no idea displaying my own talent in appreciation for theirs would inspire someone else. So I learned that when you display your talents when you are inspired or want to share in the beauty you see around you, it will inspire others to do the same and start a chain reaction that could go on forever!