Recently, a fellow Quora member asked me a question – How does one best deal with a chip on their shoulder (give up righteousness and learn humility)? The person posting the question further adds: “I have grown a chip on my shoulder. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it has born over years and, whether I like it or not, it is there. Perhaps it will go away with time, but right now, it’s apparent in the right conditions. While I don’t overreact or lose my cool, when pressed on a question I will be calm but remarkably forthright in my language. I am aware enough to realize that this isn’t healthy, so I’m looking for techniques and ideas to overcome this, though I realize it could take some time.”
Here’s my response which I believe will help all of us.
Congratulations, you are on to a great start. Having awareness is half the problem solved. Also thank you, because recently I have been feeling that I needed to learn true humility too! That has been on my mind now for some time as my next spiritual challenge. The signs that I need to learn humility are around me everywhere. Given that I am on the same journey in some ways, does not make me the best person to answer your question but I will give me 2 cents – who knows something might be helpful and I will learn in the process.
The way I see it, we are all born joyous, pure and fearless. Kids are naturally kind and cooperative and do not understand differences between people based on race, religion, beauty, knowledge or any kind of superiority. You see they are pure joy! They are natural born and untouched by fear, doubt, ego, or biases.
Then well meaning parents teach them how to be competitive and teach them comparison by saying things like “my Tommy is the smartest kid in his class”. The world teaches us to succeed and we lose our humanity in the process. The kid learns to value grades, degrees, pay and more as indicator of self worth and not kindness and empathy.
Add to that we end up getting some life altering events such as losing a job, getting divorced and now suddenly again we have to be strong. Since we have started believing that “being strong and surviving and succeeding means competing” we compete hard for survival and that becomes our habit.
What we forget in this entire race is that we are here on earth not to survive or compete but to “grow our soul” by learning more human qualities. What we forget at the deep core of us is that there is enough of everything that everyone wants in reality and do not need to strive, struggle or compete to get what we need. We forget the fundamental truth of life and that is abundance!
So here is the path we have taken inadvertently:
Survival Fear -> Need for Strength -> Self Confidence -> Pride -> Competitiveness -> Righteousness (chip on the shoulder)
Now to specific things you can understand and do to (so can I) to remove the chip on your shoulder:
• Understand that no one starts there day thinking I am going to screw up today, mess around and be stupid – understand that all are trying their best they can and if it does not work for you, you have a choice of gracefully relating or not relating. What you do not have is a right to be righteous whereby you use them to feel better about yourself
- Everyone’s journey is unique and its half destiny and half free will – even if someone chooses not to use their free will to better themselves (soul) it’s their journey and the account is between them and the Universe
- You are enough – as you are! When we grow up without “total acceptance” we have to do things to get acceptance and love and we believe that we (and others) are not enough as they are and they need to do something, be certain way to get love and acceptance. That’s the biggest lie. We are all enough
- Understand that “true intentions” are always visible – we have started believing that if we position ourselves a certain way, if we can make people believe that we are awesome we will get more and will be happier. The truth is our deep intentions and feelings are always transparent and it may take time for some to realize but they will. Being righteous and condescending (in thoughts) is the worst kind of relationship karma
- You don’t owe anyone anything and neither do they owe you anything. Understand “individual rights and free will” to the absolute degree. To the degree where if they choose they can totally and completely screw up their lives and that’s fine too and probably has a spiritual reason behind. This does not give you a right to judge or be judged
Last but not the least
What we hate or dislike in others (the basis for chip on the shoulder) is really a part of us we do not like. See these feelings of “holier than thou” as a mirror to go deeper into who you really are and what you can learn for yourself.
Give yourself tons of “Self Love” so that you do not believe in “external validation” at all. So long as you believe in external validation, you are prone to judge and be judged.
I will end with a story of an African tribe that does the most beautiful thing. (Shared on Facebook by Page: “Sun Gazing”).
When someone does something hurtful and wrong, they take the person to the center of town, and the entire tribe comes and surrounds him. For two days they’ll tell the man every good thing he has ever done.
The tribe believes that every human being comes into the world as GOOD, each of us desiring safety, love, peace, happiness.
But sometimes in the pursuit of those things people make mistakes. The community sees misdeeds as a cry for help.
They band together for the sake of their fellow man to hold him up, to reconnect him with his true Nature, to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth from which he’d temporarily been disconnected: “I AM GOOD”.
Photo by Hugh Sitton (Getty Images)