My friend and I were talking about the word pride. We both grew up with the belief that to be proud was wrong. She looked up the definitions for pride (“a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction from one’s own achievements”) vs. prideful (“having or showing arrogant superiority to and disdain of those one views as unworthy”). Whoa, pretty different for three extra letters on the end.
Whether in the home, at school, in the media or at church, society is full of messages that teach us “pride is a sin”.
“Pride goeth before destruction.”
“As long as you are proud you cannot know God.”
“Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves.”
You know what? Screw that. This silliness messes with us. We do something and we feel really good about it, we celebrate it, we share it and people tell us that we shouldn’t and that it is shameful.
“You’re too big for your britches”
“Don’t be such a bragger”
“What’s the big deal?”
“Who does she think she is?”
We stop celebrating. We end up members of the ‘keep it down’ club.
There are twisted reasons why pride got a bad rap. Control of others is a main one. Shaming people into conformity with a set of rules that serve only a small few. It’s a dark power play.
Who says that when one person decides to shine they are choosing to outshine others? That they can’t see or appreciate the brilliance of those around them? Those who are in the dark I say.
I decided to write a list of some moments in my life where I felt really good about myself:
- Jumping off the high diving board
- Riding my first banana seat bike
- Making the volleyball team
- Having my photo taken for my driver’s license
- Getting my first job
- Auditioning for school
- Leaving the boy who treated me like shit
- Cruising on my Harley Davidson
- Holding my new baby
- Running a half marathon
- Certifying as a life coach
- Walking into counseling (and going back!)
The reason why each of these experiences made my list is because I sensed a deep feeling of pride. It is the feeling state that often motivates me. Proud to work hard, to show up, to follow my gut, to be recognized, to face my fear, to reach a goal, to ask for help, to be alive.
Most of my ‘I want a do-over’ moments are those cringe-worthy scenes where I felt the least proud and far from whole. What I have learned is this: it is way more fulfilling and healthy when I embrace my desire to feel pride vs. when I allow the fear of shame from seeking the feeling of pride to guide my choices.
This human journey is about living as many proud moments as you can. There is no shame in doing a damn fine job.
My two children demonstrate this all day long. “Look at this mom!”, “Did you see me?”, “Watch, watch, watch!”. They are steadfast in their dedication to experiencing, growing, sharing and shining. They move through life with the motto “look at what I did and wait to see what I do next!”
There is a magnetic grace that emanates from people who are proud. They are being who they are because it is their birthright. It is their life view that to be human is a glorious gift. Why would we hold back? Why would we play it small?
Wouldn’t you rather hit that deathbed knowing your life was a love letter to being alive? To be able to witness your earthly adventures and feel pride with the last breath?
Take your power back. Turn your dial back up.
Make a list of moments you placed in your treasure chest. What did you feel? When did you feel lit up and expansive? What do you want to do now? What do you wish for?
It is not about besting others; it is about being your best self.
That is something to be proud of.