Self-righteousness suggests a sense of moral superiority over one’s beliefs and values, to the detriment of others. If you feel that you are morally superior to others because of the values you practice, then ‘self-righteous’ may be apt to describe you. Hypocrisy is when you do not practice what you preach and display inconsistency in thoughts and actions. I have been accused of being both these things in my life.
I have mulled over both these terms in an attempt to discover if it actually applies to me. The relation between the two has been satisfactorily established in psychology. The logic is simple; a self-righteous person believes that they are morally superior because of their beliefs or actions. Reality dictates, though, that all men are imperfect and no one is infallible. This is what leads to the hypocrisy. You claim to be perfect when you are actually not. As far as I can remember, I have never claimed to be perfect. I cherish certain values more than others, such as kindness, empathy, thoughtfulness, love, loyalty among others. The only claim which I make is that I try to live by the virtues which I believe in. Am I a hypocrite? No, because I admit my weaknesses and my inability to live up to my virtues all the time. How can a person be called self-righteous if they admit to their inability to stick to their belief system always. Does a person remain a hypocrite if he admits to being a hypocrite?
More often than not, I feel that people project their expectations of me, on me. If people accuse me of hypocrisy, it’s because they expect a perfect version of me, and are infuriated to see me act differently. If people did not expect perfection, they would act normally when they found me diverging from my path. Similarly, when people accuse me of self-righteousness, they are projecting their own inability to live up to the values which they deep down believe in. It’s not me, it’s their own self which makes them feel embarrassed about themselves. At the end of the day, we are all imperfect. Accepting your weaknesses is great but there is nothing wrong in trying to be a better version of yourself.