How do you define bragging?
I just received a text from a bragging friend that prompted me to write the blog post.
My kids encounter this all the time with other children at school, in extra circular activities, within family circles and with friends. They are constantly asking for my advice or complaining to me about a bragging situation they have encountered. I always ask my kids first how did the friend sound, what was their tone what words did they use? I want my kids to understand the difference between a bragger and an excited friend with something cool they want to share.
One of my favorite books to help explain to my kids is by Dr Suess "The Big Brag". It reminds us all that a talent we have, an object we posses that we are proud of, can become so blown out of proportion it becomes lie. I tell my kids all the time that a brag is close to, if not lying. When someone has to say something about themselves in a boastful way they are surly lying or coming as close to a lie as they can to self promote who they want others to think they are. They are also demonstrating their lack of self confidence and need the approval and attention of others to be reassured about themselves.
Oddly knowing all of this and patiently reminding my children of this when they get annoyed at a friend for bragging, I still find myself equally annoyed and frustrated. I also find myself distancing myself from the bragger. I never walk away from a bragging person feeling good about myself or upbeat about the world. I in fact really don't like how I feel and want to lesson my interaction with that person.
There is tone and language that clearly differentiates between a proud "I can't wait to share this amazing news with a friend, Im just so excited" and "I want all to know that I am superior and deserve their respect and admiration, you may now basque in my glory of awesomeness"
My daughter, after 3 hard years of hard work and dedication in the theater, auditioned to go to a preforming arts school and got in! Of course we were proud of her but were not sure how to share this news with our friends and family. We knew that we would eventually have to start letting people know that she would not be going to middle school with all her elementary friends. As we started to quietly tell people we found there were two kinds of people. 1. The person who was excited for our daughter and were already eager for more opportunities to see her preform on stage. 2. The person who looked at us with judgment and smugness stating how talent their own child was or how they know of a child who was far more talented and how they should have auditioned.
There is a handful (or sadly more) people in my life currently that brag. Constantly building themselves up and at the same time they are working very hard to discredit those who truly deserve the praise and glory. So often I find that the ones working silently, compassionately, that are kind and do things with a love and joy are over looked for the boastful glory seeking bragger. When the kind person tries to share some happy news the boastful one is quick to step in and out do their claims.
In the past week alone I have been confronted too often with boastful people who would have been more respected if they had been proud of their friends then try to outdo them.
Let's be clear, when you brag you are trying to out do what someone else has said, done, or possess. You want acknowledgment and approval from those around you that you are superior. Likewise, when you are excited to share news, talents or possessions, you are hoping that others will be supportive and happy for you.
As an artist in this day and age, if you don't show your work on social media then no one will find you to hire you. Gone are the days of running around with a portfolio in hand trying to get others to hire you. Sharing your art is an art form in it's self. You can come across as a complete bragging jerk or someone who really wants to share a piece of their soul with the world. It all comes down to language and tone. But it leaves me with a sense of not wanting to share at all at times. Just knowing that the bragging people I know will quickly dismiss my work. The Braggers always seem to know someone far superior or have a talent themselves that has yet to be discovered, and they like to make sure I know it too.
I think that bragging has become such a casual way that some people just speak. They are completely unaware of their audience or how their words are affecting others. How they are pushing people away.
Arrogance is not becoming and eventually, the lie from their bragging bubbles up to the surface and the bragger can lose a lot. Friendships, jobs, respect, and trustworthiness are just some of the things that are at stake when bragging takes place.
So the next time someone comes to you with joyful news, or shares an accomplishment, stop making it about you. This isn't your springboard to outdo a friend. This is your chance to be a friend. Get excited for them, let them know you are truly happy for them. Listen and enjoy the fact that they like you enough to share with you something special in their lives.
Likewise, the next time you have something you are proud of or excited to share with others, be kind with your words. Don't boast or brag. Keep it real, keep it upbeat, keep it happy and choose wisely those people you find worthy of sharing in your joy.
One of my favorite quotes to sum up bragging
“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't.”― Margaret Thatcher