Let’s start this little diddy of by defining self righteousness. According to Dr. Hurd, self righteousness derives from fear and a lack of inner peace. Authentic certainty comes from a place of serenity. People that act self righteous feel like they are being attacked, so they try to beat you to the punch with a verbal attack before you attack them. It is a survival based defense mechanism learned for protection from either actual or fictional mental activity.

Dr. Hurd also notes that when you really grasp that something is true, no self righteousness is required. It is a deep sense of denial of reality that temporarily keeps us safe from real or perceived harm. Dr. Hurd brilliantly sums self righteousness up as the more we drift from our own reasoning and thinking and our intellectual and psychological independence, the less sane and calm we become. He simply notes that self righteousness is anxiety masquerading as confidence.

Steve Brown ranks five important characteristics on self righteousness:

  • It’s subtle. We don’t know when we’ve got it.
  • It’s incremental. It never starts out as self righteousness, but starts out as something positive and good.
  • It’s addictive. We love when we are right and want more.
  • It’s indiscriminate. Once we see it, it’s everywhere and not just in religious folks.
  • It’s terribly destructive. It makes genuine love nearly impossible.

Paul Ellis notes that self-righteousness can also be reflected in a low sense of self-worth (“no one can possibly love me”), an inflated sense of self-importance (“I need to do more for a higher power”), and outright unbelief (“I am beyond the reach of grace”). He goes on to note that the self righteous mindset feeds on comparison with others, is hypocritical, independent, and hostile to grace.

Wikihow notes a few ways to rid ourselves of self righteousness by practicing humility, connecting with others, and thinking without bias or judgement.

I am no better than anyone else. And neither are you. We are all differently unique in our thoughts and actions and comparing ourselves to others makes us sick.

How do you define self righteousness?

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