Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary's Blog

Aloofness - Misguided Self-Confidence


Over the years I have come to chuckle rather than be annoyed when the aura of aloofness passes me by. The individual who by their own sense of importance looks over or down upon others is aloof. How important can one be where one outwardly discards another human being? Individuals of true importance are those whose character includes selflessness and humility, not arrogance and egotism. I am not referring to shyness as it may relate to being aloof, but aloofness as it pertains to the attitude of elitism. Aloof is defined as, “not friendly or forthcoming; cool and distant, conspicuously uninvolved and uninterested, typically through distaste.” Have you ever asked yourself, “What did I ever do to them?”, as a person you know, made eye contact with, walks by with that look of disdain without even acknowledging you? Did you appear distasteful to them? Trust me, if a person has an attitude that others are less important and less human based on outside appearance it says more about themselves then the person they are disdaining.

Do the clothes we wear, cars we drive, and amount we own justify an attitude of self-importance over those who have less? Personally, I would rather enjoy the company of one who may have less and genuinely cares for others, then one who has more and in their mind the world revolves around them. Glitz and glamour may be fun to enjoy, participate in, read about, and observe, but when the glitz and glamour subside and the outside is no longer looking the inside takes over. Am I more important because I have a nicer dress or suit then someone else? Am I more important because I can eat at a fancier restaurant then those whose joy of dining out is fast food? Am I more important then a mother who can barely put food on the table, because I can afford to attend a gala? I hope anyone reading this would say, of course not. Yet, there are those who feel superior to others because of what they have, rather then understanding an importance of self is reflective in the positive difference made in the lives of others. The German philosopher Theodor Adorno, stated, “He who stands aloof runs the risk of believing himself better than others and misusing his critique of society as an ideology for his private interest.”

Genuine self-confidence is generated based on behaviors that reflect the values that form the substance of your character. Character is defined as, “ the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual” i.e. your values. Our individual values are validated by the accomplishments we have earned, not been given. For example, if you achieve success by following the values you adhere to, and have earned that success though hard work and diligence how could you not be self-confident? An appreciation for life, the things we have, and the ability to be empathetic toward others are attributes earned not provided. Each day these attributes are undermined by a growing sense of entitlement and dependency our society is progressing toward. It deteriorates an understanding of what diligence and perseverance mean in regard to generating success, and ultimately a greater sense of personal confidence and happiness. Our children are inundated by the pseudo importance of glamour and glitz rather then understanding what principles are needed to create their own uniquely successful lives.

Behind the aloofness of many is an undercurrent of insecurity and a genuine lack of self-respect. Anyone who sincerely respects themselves would be respectful and friendly to others. Healthy self-respect negates any need to be aloof, nor having to use possessions to justify ones own self-importance. Mark Twain stated, “a man must not hold himself aloof from the things which his friends and his community have at heart if he would be liked.” Finally, aloofness stifles personal growth and breeds personal complacency. If I believe I am better than those around me, there is less reason to take the initiative to change and improve. Charles G. Dawes, the 30th Vice President of the United States under Calvin Coolidge stated it best, “Mediocrity requires aloofness to preserve its dignity.” Personal importance is an extension of how we generate a sense of importance in others. To be aloof is to hide behind a curtain of stuff rather than substance of character. Enjoy drawing back the curtain.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

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