On Pride and Paradigms…

In Personal Development, Philosophy by Eudaimonia Comments

Pride, Perception, Opportunity, & Decision Making

Pride is such an amazingly fickle beast. The amount of pride we have determines not only how we view our accomplishments, but in all likelihood, how we determine the present and future opportunities available to us.

The reason pride has so much hold on the outcome of our lives is that the reality of our human experience, the very perception of our lives, and our conscious assessment of our surroundings is largely governed directly by how we feel about the gathered incoming information from stimuli of our sensory systems.

Our sense of pride is a feeling and therefore our reality is subject to its whims.

Now…many of you would argue that you’re amazingly rational beings, you’re extremely reasonable, and that reason dictates your life decisions – not feelings, but you’d be wrong. And quite frankly that’d be your pride speaking.

Dammit....give me that emotion chip now, I feel nothing!

Dammit….give me that emotion chip now, I feel nothing!

Oh of course, I’ll concede that there are varying degrees to which people allow feelings to dictate their decisions, but inevitably feelings will end up affecting your decision in one way or another – no matter how much of an android, feeling-less, rational beast you believe yourself.

As our sense of pride affects our feelings, and in turn our decisions, it will ultimately determine our future in some fashion or another. Our pride will drive our lives in different directions completely depending on whether or not we embrace it fully, or soften our defenses and set it aside.

Pride & Value Systems

Pride is the single biggest indicator of the value we put on our lives and the events that transpire within our lifetime.

So is pride’s value a binary quality?

The American author John C. Maxwell wrote “There are two kinds of pride, both good and bad. ‘Good Pride’ represents our dignity and self-respect, while ‘Bad Pride’ is the deadly sin of superiority that reeks of conceit and arrogance.”

I would argue that pride is neither ‘good’, nor ‘bad’, but exists in a spectrum and acts within a rheostat to contribute to how we value ourselves, or accomplishments, and our past, current, and perceived futures.

A healthy sense of pride promotes a feeling of wellbeing and gives us some semblance of meaning in life. When we have a moderate sense of pride we take joy in our daily routines, we enjoy our victories, and achievements with an appropriate modicum of decorum. With a healthy amount of pride, life is good.

Not enough of it, and we’ll roll through life feeling unaccomplished and self-defeated. Low levels of pride are noticeable by everyone. Passion will disappear. Our spirit will sink, our posture will droop, our voice will soften and we will downplay our accomplishments.

When we lack pride we approach tasks with less vigor and put less of an effort into our routines, and if we do complete them – we go on to the next without taking the time to celebrate our achievements.

On the other hand, having too much pride can give off the impression that we are arrogant and conceited. It’s not listed as one of the seven deadly sins without merit.   Holding on to certain prides can result in cutting yourself off from the world…effectively stopping personal development.

Paradigms, Compartmentalization, & Personal Growth

 One of the toughest things to understand about personal pride is that it isn’t a zero sum game (unless you’re a sociopath). People are prideful about certain things in life and not proud of other facets of their life.

If you’re a compassionate (or what I call shiny person) you’ll realize this because it happens in your own life. People tend to compartmentalize their pride (they are prideful of the facets of their life they strongly identify with). This compartmentalization of pride is what leads to overcompensation and hindrance of personal growth (as we’ll see below).

In my pride, ego, and self-esteem paradigm I’d describe ego as the sum of the volume of the boxes. Pride as the material that’s moveable from one box to another, and self-esteem as the median volume of the material in all of the boxes.

Oh, and let’s not forget that each box is something you strongly identify with in your life (eg. you’re a Scientist-box A, you’re an Artist- box B, you’re the Wabasha County Bowling Champion – box C). Sounds like complete bullshit I know…but stick with me.

Obviously, you're not a golfer!

Obviously, you’re not a golfer!

The name of the game is to keep the boxes from becoming empty at any point – thus keeping the ego intact. Shift a little excess pride from box A to box B…and voila your ego is still intact and you’ve not loss your sense of self-identity. Turn off the fire alarms everything is good to go!

Putting pride into compartments is something I’ve done for years. Pride may indeed be linked to self-esteem and ego, but in my experience it’s not definitively linked in a compartmentalized way.

I may be able to have pride about certain aspects of my life (box A and box B), and not be proud of other aspects of my life (box C) and they generally seem to balance out my overall self-esteem (see shifting boxes method).

What is particularly difficult for me, and one of my greatest weaknesses and hurdles to personal growth is this bleed over of pride from one portion of my life (say box A) into another portion of my life (box C).

The bleed over of pride from one portion of my life to another hinders my personal growth in the new area, because I am afraid to let it be known that I am weak and need help (box D is damn near empty dammit, I suck at learning JavaScript).

But, because I have fairly full boxes (A and C– I’m a scientist, and can roll one hell of a rock), I’m hesitant to ask for help filling up box D. As if somehow, by me admitting I suck at writing code (empty box D) effects my bowling and scientific capacities. Silly I know right…I mean there’s got to be a ton of superior scientist-bowler-coders out there.

Dr. G's complete and utter bullshit Pride & Ego paradigm.

Dr. G’s complete and utter bullshit Pride & Ego paradigm.

Sustainable Personal Growth and Patience within the Paradigm

In order to keep the fire alarms from going off, and to make sure everything is well during a quest for personal growth (adding new interests or mastering current interests), you have to grow your self-esteem, pride, and ego in similar proportions and similar rates. It means realizing just because you’re a hell of a bowler, it’s ok to be shitty at coding (that will come in time)…and as you get better at coding your self-esteem and pride will grow.

As someone who is dedicated to the idea of self-actualization I’ve realized the most important virtue you can have with regards to the paradigm of personal growth is patience. You have all of your life to become a better person.