This week, I want to discuss the importance and value of pride in building ourselves as individuals.
What is pride?
According to a quick Google search, pride is a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.
Pride is attached to pleasure and a feeling of greatness. I liken it to a statue – if built with the right materials and with adherence to reality, your pride can stand up against the harshest of conditions. There may be a little wear and tear, but constant maintenance will ensure it looks good. This is rational pride.
However, the ego can also be built out of flimsy and weak materials. This version of ego – arrogance, if you will – easily topples over when faced with harsh conditions.
Pride ensures we feel value in the good that we’ve done. This value translates to higher self-esteem and self-worth which makes it harder for the collective to manipulate the individual.
Why is pride important?
Self-esteem protects us from predators and gives us a firm sense of value. We should be proud of what we’ve done, who we are, and the efforts we’ve invested in shaping and improving ourselves. Simply put, when we accomplish great things, help people, and follow our values, we feel a sense of self-confidence from making the right decisions and shunning the bad.
For example, when we help others, we are building communities and enabling others to do the same. When we forgo a one-night stand in pursuit of a long-term, stable relationship, we are pursuing higher ideals than carnal pleasures. And when we decide to study and learn a skill instead of playing video games, we are developing ourselves as individuals. These are all long-term, beneficial actions that are not easy to pursue. Because we as individuals are willing to make the sacrifice, we should be proud of ourselves for seeking virtue over vice.
This is rational pride: we are not satisfied with what we have not earned or cannot control – we are proud of the hard decisions we make that benefit ourselves and our community.
So when someone saunters up and states you are not an individual or your actions are not your own, just ignore them. They wish to hurt you, but a firm understanding of your own value will prevent them from breaking you.
How does one develop rational pride?
We develop rational dignity through accomplishments because self-esteem is tied to one’s achievements and successes. Through the proper exercise of will, we set goals and accomplish them.
Individuals make choices to pursue the good or the bad. If we choose the moral, we make a conscious, difficult decision to be virtuous and we should be proud of that. We’re never alone, but no one else can pursue virtue for us.
What is irrational pride?
Irrational pride is simply pride from that which you haven’t earned. Narcissism for things you’re born into – country, race, class, religion – is small-minded thinking. Simply following the course of history is unimpressive and isn’t something one should be proud of.
I understand that there are caveats. However, satisfaction in things such as one’s gender, race, or sexuality makes no sense. You never fought for that. You never bled or cried or pushed. You just are. Pride in just being is the lowest form of pride because being requires no effort and will never change; thus, there is no conflict or opportunity for virtue.
We can be pleased with the difficulty we have overcome despite the race or class we were borne into. However, action is still key.
For example, a person who’s proud of being black requires no higher thinking or functioning – that person will always be black regardless of their actions or lack of. However, overcoming racial injustice while avoiding committing abuses and cruelty to innocent people is something to celebrate and be proud of. Why? Because that person is pursuing good despite the evil they are suffering.
Pride is complicated and multi-layered. However, it is fundamentally about acknowledging our greatness when we pursue what is virtuous.
- What are you proud of? Why are you proud of this?
- Are there things you are pleased with that you’ve never earned and don’t have to fight for? Why are you satisfied with these things?
- Where have you heard that pride is bad? Why do you think people argue against pride?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.