As I reflect on the past 13 years I reflect on the stages of my own evolving consciousness that I have had to go through – sometimes once, sometimes over and over and some right now. I hope what I have learned may help you.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle described pride as the “crown of the virtues”. It’s after all an emotion we experience when we’ve achieved something great, or when someone close to us has. It usually has a recognisable physical expression – a slight smile, the head tilted back, the chest expanded with arms raised.
Yet pride often gets a bad rep. While it can help us feel dignified and aware of our self-worth – ensuring that others do not walk all over us – it can seemingly interfere with empathy and make us come across as arrogant and egocentric. Pride comes before a fall, goes the saying. It is also one of the seven deadly sins, sitting alongside terrible traits such as envy, greed and arrogance.
Pride derives from the French word “prud,” which is a late Old English word variously translated as “excellent, splendid, arrogant, haughty.” It is thought that “having a high opinion of oneself” might reflect the Anglo-Saxons opinion of Norman knights who called themselves “proud.”
We might believe that healthy self-worth means taking pride in our achievements. But if value is tied to our accomplishments or self-image, it’s built upon on a fragile foundation. There’s nothing wrong with feeling satisfaction when we achieve some goal, such as getting a promotion or buying a new car. But if we allow these things to define who we are, we set ourselves up for misery.
Perhaps there’s good reason why pride has been considered one of the seven deadly sins. We’ve all been repelled by people who have an inflated view of themselves. They may talk about themselves excessively and rarely show interest in others. They pump themselves up and come across as snooty–exuding an attitude that makes others feel judged.
Such over-confidence and arrogance pushes us away. Instead of relating to us as equals, they display an obnoxious superiority that makes us feel small. They have the knack of making us feel the shame that they refuse to face within themselves.
Pride is often driven by poor self-worth and shame. We feel so badly about ourselves that we compensate by feeling superior. We look for others’ flaws as a way to conceal our own. We relish criticizing others as a defense against recognizing our own shortcomings.
Pride prevents us from acknowledging our human vulnerabilities. This shame-driven pride makes us too uncomfortable to say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong, I made a mistake.” When pride rules, we believe we’re always right. This makes it difficult to sustain intimate relationships; nobody likes being with a know-it-all.
As the light of our dignity shines more brightly, we realize that we don’t have to be perfect. Showing vulnerability and humility invites people toward us. We become approachable rather than intimidating. We don’t see ourselves as better or worse than anyone else. We recognize that we’re all a part of the human condition; we all have strengths and weaknessess.
A more genuine and stable self-worth is based upon validating, affirming, and valuing ourselves as we are. Self-worth is a function of living with dignity, which exists apart from any accomplishments. Achievements are ephemeral and can become a trap. If too much of our attention goes toward accomplishing bigger and better things in order to feel good, then we become addicted to external sources of gratification.
Kevin T. Cahill is an award winning sales professional and consultant specializing in the art of managing change and achieving great results. As the founder of The Change Revolution, this international best selling author and speaker inspires men and women alike. As someone who has mastered the art of resilience and hope, Kevin’s philosophy as a clarity builder is strategic and results driven. Kevin’s passion is to equip individuals and organizations with a renewed sense of clarity and excitement, knowing that positive change will bring about positive gains. His exciting creation The Change Revolution offers a winning blueprint for navigating through change and achieving success.
Speaking inquiries email email@example.com or call 519-836-7989.