Pride is defined as “a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.” Probably the most famous scripture that relates to pride is from Proverbs 16:18. Although it is commonly said, “Pride goeth before a fall,” the scripture really reads, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Pride is a complex emotion. Most people think of pride as a vice rather than a virtue. The positive side of pride can be seen as self-esteem or having respect for one’s accomplishments. Society encourages people to take pride in heritage, ethnicity and family. The problem with pride occurs when pride manifests as vanity and self-idolatry.
The negative aspect of pride is when a person thinks too highly of oneself. It can be seen as arrogance or haughtiness. Conceitedness is another negative aspect of pride. Pride often makes someone not admit a wrong. Not unexpectedly, these feelings can make it hard to be in relationships. When a person is too prideful, it’s difficult to be vulnerable. The prideful person seems to be on a pedestal, making it difficult to be on the same level as someone else.
Distinguishing Healthy Pride From Negative Pride
Healthy pride can make a person satisfied with his or her accomplishments. It’s about self-confidence. Unhealthy pride is having to keep proving yourself, not only to yourself, but to those around you. Healthy pride acknowledges that you’ve done well. Unhealthy pride is a feeling of self-doubt, like you’ll never be good enough, no matter how successful you are.
A healthy dose of pride can make you feel good about yourself. Even more importantly, there’s no need to put on “airs” or boast about your competence. You have self-assurance in your abilities. You don’t have to compete with others. It can make you cooperative and agreeable.
Unhealthy pride manifests as defensiveness or an announcement of being special. You have to make sure that people know you’re capable. You might believe that you have to be better than everyone. Pride feeds your ego. It’s about “look what I did,” while never considering those who helped you along the way. Healthy pride not only lets you be proud of your own accomplishments, but it also lets you be proud of others. When your child or spouse does well, you can feel proud of them.
The Deadliest Sin
Pride is usually considered to be the worst of the seven deadly sins. The sin of pride is excessively believing in your own abilities or failing to give credit to others when it’s due. Thomas Aquinas argued that all of the other deadly sins stem from the sin of pride. C. S. Lewis wrote that pride was the “anti-God” state, because pride severs a person from God. In Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” the prideful carry stone slabs around their necks, which reminds them to keep their head bowed.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. . . . It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition is gone, pride is gone.”
Have Healthy Pride
Developing healthy pride takes time, but it’s essential to your overall well-being. Learn to have a positive self-image to have self-pride without haughtiness. Consider pride in your own life. Too much confidence often leads to tragedy. Too little pride and self-esteem can keep you from achieving your best. Don’t let pride rule your life but be proud of what you accomplish. Remember to give credit to those who helped you on your journey. That will keep you balanced and from becoming ego-centric.