Pride. Is it such a bad thing to have? What’s wrong with having pride for our country, our family, our career, and other things in our lives? Pride can strengthen us, give courage, and create a bond among us. Pride, in this sense, is a good thing. There is another type of pride, however, that has quite the opposite effects.
Pride of self, which leads us to thinking that we are better than others, does not result in any of the positive things mentioned above. Instead of strengthening us, it weakens us. This may sound paradoxical, right? If we think we’re better than others, wouldn’t we also think that we are stronger? While we may choose to believe that this is the case, we may not realize that our pride actually weakens us from within. It distills in us fears and insecurities. What if someone better than us comes along? What if someone else gets more recognition than we do? All these fears and securities can cause us to view others with caution. Instead of seeing others as potential friends, deep down we wonder if they will become potential rivals.
Pride can also come in a more subtle form – sometimes it is so subtle that we may not even realize that we have it. While the example of pride mentioned above shows signs of anxiety and jealousy, the more subtle form of pride may not necessarily bear any of these signs. Instead, it may come with an air of cool confidence, a dignified certainty that one would fare just as well without any help from others. We may not even think of comparing ourselves to others and thinking that we are better than they are. Our dismissal of the need for others, however, in a way implies that we are somehow better and stronger.
Regardless of the type of pride we may have, it can eventually lead us to building an invisible wall around us. The wall may be intended to protect us from rivals, from people who give more recognition to others instead of us, or from others with helping hands who somehow make us feel inferior. By building this wall, we think we are protecting ourselves, but at the same time we are also sealing ourselves from the possibility of receiving others’ love and gestures of kindness.
So, how do we destroy this wall and let go of the insecurities that come with it? The pride that we have may have various roots, but I believe that one of the underlying reasons for pride is our desire to merit something. Whether we are trying to merit love, praise, or recognition, we think that somehow we have to deserve it – which we do by trying to be better than others. Consider children for a second. They do not concern themselves with pride, because they do not think (at least in the beginning) that they need to deserve something to have it. They receive love, presents, help, without worrying whether they deserve them or not. Somewhere in the process of growing up, we learn that we need to earn things, and in order to do that we need to be better than others. Life becomes a competition, in which we try to get ahead of others. The moment we let go of our impulse to deserve, we let go of our idea of having to be better than others. Consequently, we also let go of our wall and the insecurities that encase us within. Interested in giving this a try?