This morning I was listening to a Joyce Meyer podcast, as I usually do while commuting to the city. I love me some Joyce. She has a no-nonsense, tough love kind of approach that I can really dig. I’ve never been one for sugar coating or being handled with kid gloves, so naturally I appreciate Joyce’s direct manner of delivering the truth that I think we all need to hear. Today Joyce was talking about pride, and her message slapped me across the face harder than the 25-degree wind chill.
As I mentioned, I tend to appreciate a direct approach. I like confident people who tell it like it is, but the thing about people like that is that they typically have a lot of pride. How do I know? Well, I’m one of them. You see, I’m a tried-and-true Leo (fellow Christians, please don’t label me a heathen for reading my horoscope every day), and one of our foremost characteristics is our pride. So yeah, I know all about pride. I don’t ever like to show weakness or appear as though I don’t know what’s going on. I like to be in control or at least seem like I am, even when I’m not. I hate crying in front of people and asking for help. I would spend $100 on a taxi ride to the airport before I would ask a friend to drop me off, simply because I hate putting anyone out or feeling like I need them. In the past, I have pretended to know things I didn’t, simply because I didn’t want to come off as less intelligent than those around me. I could go on and fill two more pages with details of my prideful behavior, but I think you get the point. I used to swear that pride and confidence were one and the same, so I assumed that my pride was a good thing. I’ve changed my mind. Now I believe that pride is a way that we compensate for a lack of confidence.
Here are two of the definitions I found for confidence:
“the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust”
“the state of feeling certain about the truth of something”
Let’s go back to my examples. If I had firm trust that I could rely on a friend, why not ask for a ride to the airport? If I felt certain about my own truth, why would I pretend to know something I didn’t instead of just admitting my uncertainty without feeling any less about myself as a result? In both cases, I lacked confidence and that’s when my pride took over. Pride can be toxic because it isn’t real. Pride is our attempt to validate ourselves and present an image of perfection, lest we feel inadequate or inferior. Pride makes us speak when we should listen. Pride makes us doubt when we should believe. Pride makes us isolate ourselves when we should lean on loved ones. Pride hinders progress that can only come when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. It prevents us from being real with others and sometimes it even prevents us from being real with ourselves. Pride can make us believe that everyone is out to get us and that we can only trust ourselves. It can cause us to create a hard exterior out of fear that someone might hurt us. Yes, this impenetrable exterior can protect our hearts from pain, but the problem is that it also keeps out the good stuff, like love.
My pride has:
- Prevented me from seeking help when I had post-partum depression
- Made me feel like I should do everything myself, leading to extreme anxiety for which I used to be medicated
- Caused me to lie about silly things
- Built up a sense of perfectionism that made me feel like I was always falling short and was never good enough
- Allowed my mind to get carried away with thoughts about how others might hurt me, leading me to push them before they even gave me an actual reason to do so
- Forced me to smile and say, “I’m fine” when I am anything but fine
- Prevented me from asking questions that would have helped me learn and advance my career at a more rapid pace
I’ve been working hard at conquering my pride and replacing it with confidence. I won’t lie to you…it’s difficult. Even if we are able to forgive ourselves or those who have hurt us, it’s hard to forget the past and even harder to overcome the survival instinct and focus on self-preservation that many of us build up in response to pain. When I focus on my faith, I worry much less about my pride. Even when I doubt myself, I still have “the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust” – in God. I think we’ve all had times of loss in life when the pain is so extreme that we wonder how we’ll survive…but then we do, and we come out stronger. Remembering this helps me feel safe and allows me to shelve my pride and open the door to my heart. The reality is that I don’t want to go through life keeping everyone at arm’s length. I want deep, meaningful friendships and real, genuine love, and the only way I will ever have those things is to check my pride at the door.