Self-Righteous Indignation

Sometimes something will set me off. Its almost as if because I caught someone in an error I have this "got you" moment, then I find I am filled with self-righteous indignation.

Dictionary.com defines self-righteous as

"confident of one's own righteousness, esp. when smugly moralistic and intolerant of the opinions and behavior of others."

And indignation as

"strong displeasure at something considered unjust, offensive, insulting, or base; righteous anger."

Here I sit in my own self-righteous indignation, so deeply immersed that I cannot concentrate on my statistics homework.

I found Kellevision, "Musings on mental health by a licensed therapist"

There were some interesting thoughts on self-righteous indignation. First, that people (I) focus on what isn't "fair" what people "should be doing." That sounds a lot like the tapes that play in my mind. Her advice?

"Why shouldn't we distinguish when people aren't doing things "correctly", or the way they "should" be done, or the "fair" way? For two reasons:

  1. Because it is not real. They aren't doing it that way. They are doing it "wrong" or in a way they "shouldn't" or "unfairly". That is the reality. That is what's happening. Expecting them to do something else just sets you up to be frustrated and angry.
  2. Because it makes us unhappy. I always ask people, "how much time and energy have you invested in being upset about this? What could you have done with that time and energy instead? Most have invested a lot of both. And for what? Is this issue really that important?"

"By pointing out the errors of someone else we are attempting to position ourselves as better than them. People with low self esteem, people who are unhappy in their lives, people who are frustrated with where they are in life are most susceptible to self-righteous indignation."

This is very true about my own perspective. I feel insecure about myself, so I jump at an opportunity to feel superior. False Pride.

In 12-step programs we learn that pride is one of the seven deadly sins, and the death of pride is slow, painful, and it starts on the inside. How to remove this defect of character? Become entirely ready, and humbly ask. God could and would if He were sought.

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