Smart Arse Syndrome

Intelligent, Driven, and Struggling?
Maybe you’re suffering with smart arse syndrome

This may not apply to you. If it does, and you are self aware and honest enough to recognise these behaviours in yourself, what I’m about to tell you may piss you off. But it could be exactly what you need to hear to finally get a breakthrough.

You’re smart, intelligent, and driven. You study hard, continue learning, and people admire you for it. You also have a strong sense of pride and have an image or an ideal you want to live up to. However, you’re also stuck in a merry go round with one particular issue. Maybe you can’t control yourself around food or alcohol and secretly binge eat or drink. Maybe you give the impression your business is cranking, but behind closed doors you’re struggling and anxious.

In part you use your knowledge and intelligence as a weapon and as a defence mechanism. You have a fear of vulnerability and of people seeing the real you. You have a fear of being judged, criticised and what people might think of you. So knowledge and intelligence form the perfect shield, the perfect mask to hide behind. If you know more than anyone else on a certain topic, then they can’t criticise or judge you. (Guess what, they can, they will, and they do anyway!)

However the biggest way that smart arse syndrome sabotages you is that it allows you to create intricate, complicated, and highly convincing stories about why you’re stuck, why you have problems, and why there’s not much you can do about it. These stories will convince some people around you, but the real risk is that you bullshit yourself.

For you to overcome your problems requires you to face that which you fear most. Perhaps it’s to try something and risk losing. Perhaps it’s the willingness to be vulnerable, to let people see the real you – warts and all. Perhaps it’s to do the hardest work of all – to work on your mindset, how you handle your thoughts and your emotions. Personal growth can be challenging, confronting, and uncomfortable. But of course, if you have an elaborate, highly detailed, bullshit story that means you don’t have to go through that hard work, then that’s a lot easier right!

The trouble with smart arse syndrome is it’s so hard to see it in yourself. If you suffer with it, chances are you won’t allow yourself to see or own up to it because it doesn’t feel very good to admit it. But if you can develop the courage, and the vulnerability to do so, you will have made the first, most important, and most difficult step of all to overcome these issues once and for all.