Pride. People who have it in spades probably won’t think they need to read about it. People who don’t have as much will likely test themselves endlessly to see if they do. Pride is sneaky and blinding–an elusive and insidious foe in full camo gear, somehow deceiving its owner into thinking its parasitic existence doesn’t even, well, exist.
But it reliably kills, steals and destroys relationships, dreams, growth. Pride is the very perversion that caused the fall of the primary nemesis of God himself. That’s big. So it’s an issue best grappled with and understood but admittedly very difficult to find and face. Again, it instinctively lies to and hides from its host for sheer self-preservation–like a tick in between the shoulder blades of a dog.
If we so often can look directly for pride and still not see it, then, we best learn the telltale signs that pride is present and (obnoxiously) active so we can blow its cover wide open. We can learn to recognize the effects of its blood-sucking mean streak and hold an immediate eviction of the unsightly tenant before it destroys our property or health.
Namely, pride prevents an individual from learning and changing, period. I’ve seen no exceptions. So, overcoming it is no small matter unless your goal is to stay exactly how and where you are eternally and forever in every way, amen. Look for an inability to change, grow, adjust, submit and learn (physiological challenges excluded obviously). Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes? Hello pride.
It’s true that pride is often a false front or overcompensation for massive insecurity and pain, so compassion and patience are usually warranted as well. But nonetheless, there pride sits in the middle of many a stagnant situation, crushing the life out of a person’s potential like an elephant sitting on a caterpillar. Dreams die and damage ensues, because pride hurts everybody in its vicinity simply by its dead-halt power over progress. And if we’re not getting better, we’re getting worse. Pride can’t do anything other than encourage its owner to remain exactly the same; its defining characteristic is, after all, I’m fabulous and perfect precisely and exactly the way I am, and don’t you dare imply otherwise.
I’ve obviously had reason to contemplate pride and its antagonist (humility) lately, or I wouldn’t dive into such a fun topic (on par with tax time, adios and good riddance, April 18, 2017). But I’ve needed to brave it, white-glove testing myself and some circumstances for pride’s residue–that gooey coating on a situation that seems to stick it thoroughly stuck at a point of large-scale stuck-ness, preventing it from rolling in the right direction (or any direction at all).
And while I was mulling on all this (and by mulling, I mean agonizing), I recalled a blog on humility I wrote years back. We could talk more about pride right now, but I find it more productive to focus on our targeted behavior more than on our natural human vice. I present the piece here, if only for my own reminding. For what it’s worth to anyone else befuddled by a battle that just won’t budge:
Humility says, I’m not better than another person. But it also says, I’m not worse. So, humility is the great equalizer of people. And since humility views all people as its equal, it avoids the terribly hard work of leveling (pulling others down to feel even) or putting on appearances (presenting what you suppose you ought to be instead of what you truly are).
If you picture a humble person as a wall-flowery, insecure type, picture again. Only false humility devalues a person that way. In reality, insecurity prevents humble actions and interactions, because an insecure person will often try to position herself above another person or disappear into invisibility altogether. Quite to the contrary, a humble person carries herself with a disarming and inviting ease–nothing to prove and nothing to lose.
On a worldview scale humility believes that something greater and bigger than me exists, but that doesn’t make me less valuable. Feeling the comparative smallness only takes the pressure off; it simply means I don’t always have to control everything or everyone in order to be alright. Phew. There’s Somebody smarter and more loving in charge. Humility, therefore, allows for a life of ebb and flow, flexibility, submission, deference, serving, letting go.
Beyond just allowing for these things, humility can turn words like submission and serving–which can carry negative connotations–into perfectly positive experiences. When you know who you are, both independent of and in relationship to others, self-worth is never lost or compromised when yielding to another’s wishes or ways. And proper humility always knows when it’s under no obligation to yield–to bullying, abuse, subservience or being improperly used.
Humility helps us relate to one another evenly and smoothly, with stability, without chaos. The interpersonal scales (on which we all inevitably try to weigh ourselves) balance easily when everyone simultaneously defers to and elevates one another out of genuine humility.
Here’s to growing in humility and, as a result, growing up.
With Hope and Heart in Hand,
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