The Negative Side of Pride

From Wikipedia, Pride is an inwardly directed emotion that carries two antithetical meanings. With a negative connotation pride refers to a foolishly and irrationally corrupt sense of one’s personal value, status or accomplishments, used synonymously with hubris. With a positive connotation, pride refers to a humble and content sense of attachment toward one’s own or another’s choices and actions, or toward a whole group of people, and is a product of praise, independent self-reflection, and a fulfilled feeling of belonging.

There are two kinds of pride, both good and bad. ‘Good pride’ represents our dignity and self-respect. ‘Bad pride’ is the deadly sin of superiority that reeks of conceit and arrogance.

John C. Maxwell

For now we’ll focus on the negative version of pride as it tends to have more of an impact in most of us. To me pride is the feeling of entitlement to something in our lives. Entitlements or the feelings of entitlement have nothing to do with what we deserve by our actions or who we are, but is a mutated, extended form of the feeling of deserving. If we think ourselves beautiful we expect others to recognize it as well and give us admiration or praise for it regardless of what they think of the way we look. If we consider ourselves more intelligent than others we expect to be ‘right’ and have very little tolerance for argument or discussion. If we are famous we expect others to recognize our fame or greatness and treat us accordingly.

pride is the feeling of entitlement…

For people of certain occupations we expect respect because of our jobs or the schools we attended or people that we know, who our family members are. We take pride in these aspects of our lives and feel that a certain entitlement goes along with it even though we ourselves did nothing to deserve it. When we are skilled at a sport, game or contest of skill we feel entitled to win and are emotionally crushed when we don’t without understanding why. Even when we are alone and we apply ourselves to a problem or project we feel that we should be able to solve without any problems, something easy to finish and hit rough patches we feel frustrated when that entitlement is not given to us.

Pride Makes Us Mediocre

Pride is the emotion that pushes us towards the easy path as failure damages our pride and causes anxiety, frustration and anger. Failure and the shattering of the image that we have of ourselves is the biggest worry for those that are proud and arrogant. In order to avoid it we stop ourselves from reaching for our limits and live in fear of being tested again. We use pride to define a pinnacle of our careers and lives and to be pushed off the top is often too much for us to accept.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Pride blinds us to our own failings and lacking. Instead of using that knowledge to fill in the blanks and make ourselves better, much too often we are pushed in the opposite direction of taking the easier and easier way out of situations. Taking the life choices that require as little effort as possible in order to fulfill our own ego.

Pride pushes us away from personal responsibility as any failure on our part does not make sense to us. We should have won, gotten that raise, succeeded in whatever endeavor we attempt because we are ‘special’ and entitled to it. If we don’t get what we are entitled to then it is because it was taken or stolen from us, that the world isn’t fair and that we are the victim of others or circumstance. To avoid that feeling of victimization we hide ourselves away from challenges.

Life is no longer about Challenge

I remember when I was young at the dawn of video games that in most cases games were ultimately unbeatable. That there wasn’t a happy ending but just a neverending series of challenges as levels got harder and harder, things moved faster and faster until we eventually lost. It was the challenge of doing better and better, improving on our skills and scores that drove us to plunk our quarters into arcade cabinets at the pizza parlor or bowling alley and not the sensation of actually winning. Games didn’t have a story or easy mode to beat but were simply a challenge of personal skill that developed over time.

Nowadays, there really isn’t a game that is not meant to be beaten even by the most casual of players. The need for gratification in sating our egos has driven the gaming industry to make games into things that anyone can finish. The basic sense of achievement in conquering a monumental challenge have changed into simply filling time with a story and pretty graphics. Some games still have a hardcore mode or endless achievements that need to be fulfilled for a minority of players to feel complete, but again it is a matter of simply filling in time and fulfilling our own need for gratification then a test of skill and perserverence. Instead of challenging us to do and be better it has changed to simply keeping our minds occupied while boosting our pride in achievements that are easily obtainable.

Even in something as insignificant in the arena of video games the sense of challenge has diminished and we take pride in smaller and smaller achievements. Not in things that required patience and hard work as the danger of failure was too high. Instead we take pride in simpler and simpler things in life diminishing who and what we really can be.

Using Pride Instead of Letting it Use You

For too many of us stuck in mediocre lives we hold onto past achievements with fond memories. At times we feel that the best of our lives are behind us and instead of attempting more and better we spend our times reminiscing on our past, too proud of past successes and too fearful of future failures.

In order to turn our lives around and move forward our achievement the proudest moments of our lives should be seen not as pinnacles of success, but as foundations for future success. Being successful means that success can lead to greater things, it is a mere stepping stone to something else to achieve in life. Too often you see those that have succeeded fade into obscurity whether in business, entertainment or sports. Still there are those who use their past successes as starting points to succeed elsewhere.

Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid, one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Douglas MacArthur

Bill Gates used his business success to help create and grow an entirely new market and then used that success to become one of the greatest philanthropists the world had ever seen. Michael Jordan used his success on the basketball court to create a business empire that impacts the world in a bigger way in terms of fashion and style. Tom Hanks started as a comedian to a comedic actor to a dramatic actor to a producer and director ultimately becoming one of the most well recognized people in the world today. All of these and other ‘great’ people weren’t satisfied with scaling one mountain and reaching the top, but used that as a starting point to scale the entire mountain range.


They should all be proud of their accomplishments, but don’t use that pride as an anchor to hold them down instead they use it as a launching point to something else. Just like scaling a mountain range you may need to climb down from one point in order to get to the next mountain, but each subsequent peak and summit can be higher than the one before.


Originally posted 2016-12-31 16:48:34.

One Comment

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