Have you ever done something so awesome that, privately, just at the moment where you would have shown exuberance, you reined yourself in?
Was this perhaps because you didn’t want to be seen as too full of yourself? Flagrantly prideful?
Sadly, we’re trained to react to pride the same way we would when alone or in a crowd of familiars. Pride, we are told, taints us, with hubris being just a step away. If a job well done isn’t its own reward, you might as well change your name to Nar Cissus.
Ridiculous, baloney, and patently untrue.
Why should it be OK to praise someone else for their accomplishments and efforts, but not yourself?
Being proud of yourself is an essential part of your happiness. Outside of the fact that sometimes you simply rock, pride signals to others that you and/or what you’ve done matters.
The danger – and the likeliest source of all the cautions – is indulging in too much of the glowing stuff. Excessive pride is actually the absence of pride; it’s boasting and inflating to cover a shameful weakness.
In the film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, the titular character makes it a point to enter a room and tell anyone with ears, “I’m kind of a big deal.”
Let’s take steps to avoid becoming quite so legendary.
1. Seek Perspective
Perhaps you made a damn good pie from scratch. People praised it to high heaven. But you and I both know you did not make the best pie in the world.
There is no reason whatsoever to act like you made the best pie in the world. Ever. Everything has been done, someone has done it better.
You are in a competition with no one…
Those with good perspectives of their accomplishments tend to accomplish more and more.
2. Share, Don’t Force
In my field (writing), being humble is the First Commandment. “Thou shalt not admit to others thou likes thine own work.”
I’m sorry, pumpkins, but there are times I want to jump back and kiss myself for a turn of phrase or an insight finally wrestled to the ground.
Creative people are supposed to be able to divorce themselves from their issues, but at the same time are told their creative work is like their baby.
Love your baby, whether you’re a waiter, carpenter, musician, bricklayer, groundskeeper, theoretical physicist, or floral designer.
No matter what you do, you know there are touches only you could do. Not only does feeling good about that fact give you a feeling of satisfaction, it can even inspire you.
Here’s the kicker: Just like with newborn baby pics, you want to share.
Do so, but recall how you yourself have likely dodged more than one exuberantly proud parent’s barrage of candid shots of their baby staring off into space while wondering whether its feet are made of farts.
Do not be so prideful as to force farty baby pictures on anyone.
Instead, make it known in a fairly straightforward yet suitably excited way that you’ve Done The Thing.
Those who are interested will respond to your enthusiasm and pride by perhaps delving for more, directly supporting you, or even – dare to dream – secretly planning a congrats party.
3. Don’t Get Caught In Your Own Hype
The more that you’re congratulated, the more you want to be congratulated.
“Pride” is saying thank you to someone acknowledging your accomplishment. There will likely be a big smile plastered on your face.
“Fueled with hype” is when every subject somehow relates to something you did; every sentence you utter usually begins with “I”; or you’re only in conversation so that others can mention to you how good you are.
That’s not pride, that’s being a glory leech.
Practice letting people come to you and share your interests, and they’ll see that you’re proud of yourself for who you are and not for how they make you feel.
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4. Be Proud Of Others
This is a big one. The ability to be proud of others shows that you can step away from yourself which, again, lends perspective.
Observing people’s reactions to your pride in them will offer a useful mirror in tempering your own pride for yourself.
5. Don’t Rest On Your Laurels
It’s one thing to have been proud of yourself when, at 14, you won the State Spelling Bee. Let’s flash forward 20 years: Are you still mentioning that bee?
That’s a problem.
You can be proud of a thing then let it go, because not everything you do in life needs to be a permanent gold star on your brow.
6. Read The Room
No matter what you do in life, read the room. If you don’t know how to read a room, start learning, stat.
You are not going to be so proud of your new startup business that you pass out business cards at a wake.
You are not ever going to help a friend come to a big decisio by mentioning you won the Booker Prize.
Inwardly? Inwardly you can do somersaults and hire a marching band, but respond outwardly accordingly and appropriately.
Delaying the exhibition, or even feeling, of pride does not lessen the potency of your awesome one bit.
7. Be Humorous With It
There’s self-deprecation that hides you and walls you off from your true feelings, and then there’s self-deprecation that’s a nudge and a wink toward how awesome you were to have started/finished/continued the thing.
Mild self-deprecation is a clear indicator that someone is proud of themselves in some fashion or other.
This isn’t false humility, it’s more along the lines of Life is wonderful, life is good, I contributed my small part to that, la la la and troubadour song…
When people see you have a sense of humor regarding your pride, they relax into the pride, which means they relax into you, and that’s a definite mark in the “good” category.
8. Be Genuine
Some people reach for pride like it’s a life preserver: without it, they drown in anonymity; with it, they grasp at anything and everything to force a sense of pride to the top.
Things like pride of geographical location, pride of essentially random affiliations, even pride of sports team are faddish once drilled beneath the surface.
They don’t contribute to or relate back to the soul. They are not genuine prideful experiences because they are wholly external.
Genuine pride requires a bit of honesty regarding who you are and where you are in service to the world. Service can be toward your children, your lover, a stranger, a community group… anything that pays positivity forward.
Positivity is important. Pride shouldn’t be felt as a result of doing hurtful things. Pride shouldn’t be a weapon. It should be a beacon drawing all toward you, rather than you hoping to use it to gain acceptance within a small, mean few.
Always remember: pride should help to enhance the real you, not burnish fool’s gold.
There’s an old maxim: Be proud of who you are… as long as you know who you are.
Identity is very important, because without a firm grasp on who you are, you’re at the whims and mercies of disingenuous predators. You’re a tool. And that’s nothing to be proud of.