Being too modest: humility or inhibition?

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Joe Dispenza
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Being too modest: humility or inhibition?

Excessive modesty is not always adequate because it can end up making us invisible and preventing our self-affirmation. Self-love, personal pride is not synonymous with arrogance, but with the right recognition we owe to ourselves. 

Last update: 26 March, 2019

Being too modest is not always good because it can end up making us invisible and preventing our self-affirmation. Self-love, personal pride is not synonymous with arrogance, but with the right recognition we owe to ourselves.



Being too modest is bad, like anything taken to the extreme. The key is "too much". With this word we can transform the most beautiful virtues into defects, the greatest pleasures into torture. Excess almost always distorts things.

Modesty is an important gift, it is a cousin of human values ​​such as simplicity, humility, moderation. It is the opposite of vanity and conceit, two aspects that are gaining more and more ground. Those who are modest do not need, do not want to boast. But those who are too modest end up diminishing their results and their qualities.

It is true that arrogance breeds antipathy and erects barriers, but excessive modesty does not help to create healthy relationships, neither with others nor with oneself. Those who deprive their person of value can also obtain a certain benefit, but they lose the opportunity to assert themselves and obtain the recognition that they deserve.

“Modesty is to merit as shadows are to figures in a painting: it gives them strength and prominence”.

-Jean de la Bruyere-

Being too modest: one of the faces of inhibition

Certainly being too modest can facilitate some aspects in social relations. Whoever behaves in this way is perceived as harmless, avoids the jealousy of others, envy, confrontation. In today's society we tend to be too competitive. And, in fact, social networks are enhancing our competitiveness. Those who behave very modestly manage to evade these tensions.



Self-confident people don't feel the need to show off, brag, and gain approval from others. This can be seen as a natural and spontaneous way of being modest. In those who try to be too much, however, a different mechanism is triggered. It is no longer a question of not wanting to self-celebrate, but rather the need to hide, to diminish oneself. Even making yourself invisible.

We could therefore say that exasperated modesty is not a sign of humility, but of inhibition. The reaction of others is feared and the way to deal with it is to blend in, hide from view. It is as if he feels he has no right to be like or better than others, in any respect. In a way, she hints at a feeling of shame towards yourself.

Pride is not presumption

We generally confuse pride with presumption, when in reality they are two different realities. Pride speaks to us of self-love, presumption is more of a wounded self-love. Self-love is the result of self-acceptance and self-esteem. When we achieve a good result, pride grows and we feel comfortable with our person.

Presumption, on the other hand, is a sham. Seek the approval, the applause of others. It creates a distance that allows you to feel superior and, thanks to this, improve the opinion you have of yourself. Presumption cries out for success, it doesn't want to share it. There is something bitter in its essence, and it never fills up.

This arrogance, therefore, is an attempt to compensate for the lack of self-love. It is usually contrived and aggressive. When the proud person is not approved, she becomes deeply frustrated. This is because she is unable to value herself, regardless of what others think.


The pride that is missing

Modesty and pride are not that far apart. These two dimensions are not mutually exclusive, but complement each other. A person can feel proud of themselves, their achievements and, at the same time, maintain a modest profile. In short, it is a question of not boasting, not seeking the admiration or recognition of others, but not even diminishing oneself or making oneself invisible.



Being too modest or, on the contrary, arrogant means attaching too much importance to the gaze of others. In the first case, because it is feared and because a feeling of shame prevails, of inability to face this gaze. In the second case we want to prevail over the others. Arrogance needs competition, it wants to win and it wants victory to be visible to all.


Feeling proud of yourself and your abilities is positive and healthy. All that involves effort, work, deserves our recognition. It is also nice to share it with others, just as it is good to share a defeat, a moment of sadness.

The opinion of others has assumed disproportionate importance in our lives. The best attitude is not to let ourselves be overwhelmed and learn to measure ourselves also with our yardstick.

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