All humans being have at times felt arrogant (superior to others) and know how it feels to doubt yourself (feeling inferior). We all start life with a split – meaning that there is no integration in our concept of ourselves and our concept of others. During this phase of early development things are extreme – we love and hate, we idealize and devalue, we feel omnipotent or totally helpless and worthless. With good care, stability and love we gradually mature and start integrating our self concept and our concept of others. Gradually our concept of the world, of yourself and of others become more realistic. Gradually the divide becomes less extreme. Now we can at times feel good about ourselves without feeling arrogant or we can feel self doubt without feeling totally inferior and worthless.
When a person is psychologically split is means that your self concept and your concept of other is unstable and unrealistic. You tend to devalue or idealize others and you tend to feel grandiose (arrogant) or inferior (worthless). Arrogance and feelings of inferiority are sides of the same unrealistic, immature coin.
The more mature and psychologically healthy we become the more this split becomes integrated and the more you realize that all people including yourself have worth, but are just human and therefor not superior to any other human being. Feeling superior and being arrogant can feel very good because it tends to cause a feeling of greatness, omnipotence and being powerful. Feeling inferior can be extremely painful. We all start life in this extreme world of good and bad (total greatness or extreme worthlessness), but as we mature and we are adequately nurtured but not overprotected do we mature into a more integrated and healthy self esteem and view of others. Now our self doubt does not turn into worthlessness and our self worth does not turn into arrogance.
People who are mostly arrogant are not psychologically mature and will tend to devalue others. People who feel inferior also had a childhood that did not foster healthy development and they tend to idealize others. It is appropriate that young children are immature and therefore they will tend more towards these extremes (love and hate, grandiosity and feeling worthless, idealizing and devaluing).
Integration between these extremes is what we should aim for. Grandiosity or feelings of being worthless as well as devaluing or idealizing others are all indications of problems during early development and being stuck in an early phase of development.
All human beings sometimes feel self doubt or feelings of greatness, but the more extreme these feelings are the more it points to psychological problems.
Human being who are truly great are humble without feeling worthless and know about their worth without feeling arrogant. They can respect and value all others without idealizing them. Nelson Mandela is an example of such a person. Let us all aspire to become more mature in our view of ourselves and of others.