As a psychologist with a satisfying practice spanning almost two decades I have learnt to distinguish between two kinds of pride. Authentic pride arises when we feel good about ourselves, confident, and productive, and is related to socially-desirable personality traits such as being agreeable, conscientious, and emotionally stable. In many ways it comes from the growth mindset that helps one keep learning and growing through life experiences. Hubristic pride the second kind of pride on the other hand tends to involve egotism and arrogance, and is related to socially undesirable traits such as being disagreeable, aggressive, having low or brittle self-esteem—and being prone to shame. This is often seen in poor leaders who often control their teams with fear. People driven by hubristic pride are driven by their insecurities and use their achievements and power to mask or cover-up their flaws. These are often people who come across as very successful but deep within can never find satisfaction and so need to keep creating some kind of issue just keep turning the attention back to themselves. They are often the ones that love awards and showcase these as a way to stay one up on the others. They are often seen talking down to others, inflating the self way too often, making people around them feel small and are often the ones that have “informers” within a team to keep the team divided and in fear. They focus more on the flaws of others to stay on top. They never accept that they are wrong. Very often because of the power or financial stability they enjoy they set up charity organizations or support causes again only to be applauded for being selfless. True greatness is often in silence. That is where authentic pride steps in. Authentic pride is an acknowledgement of one’s skills, a great appreciation for the journey so far personally and professionally and most importantly a strong grounding in values. With authentic pride comes humility and the ability to accept others as they are. People with authentic pride are often grounded in self compassion and invest deeply in self development. They remember that they are a masterpiece in the process of completion and that every experience adds to that masterpiece. They usually avoid awards and accolades that are shallow but share their success with a close circle of caring friends, family or colleagues. They are grateful for every experience and remember to support others as they grow. They are like strong trees in a forest that support many life forms while growing stronger and silently contribute to the well-being of everyone around them. People with Hubristic pride often are rude and arrogant to others. They are often known to have rigid beliefs including through religion and upbringing. Since there is a deep seated insecurity from a sense of being unaccepted or not being good enough they often tend to speak about everyone else as not being good enough and attribute their own stress to the fact that they have to put up with people who are not like them. They often find it hard to embrace diversity as a strength. People with authentic pride accept differences but set healthy boundaries to be able to function well. They come across as firm and yet approachable when the needs are genuine. They tend to mentor and guide people who struggle in their teams. Authentic pride is when a person accepts genuine affection and recognition for work done or for qualities they possess. They are usually content with improving the quality of their work and life and take both success and failure in their stride because for them both states are an act of self development. On the other hand hubristic pride encourages the person to promote the self as being the best or arrange for ways to project the self to be always on a pedestal. All these are achieved in very subtle ways. They often exaggerate success and underplay failure because one inflates the pride temporarily and the other increases the insecurity. Authentic pride thrives in simplicity. Hubristic pride loves to “show” others how much they have and tend to judge those who don’t have enough or pity them instead of making and effort to share. Hoarding and non stop buying behaviours have been linked to hubristic pride whereas minimalism and balance are the hallmark of authentic pride. Every religious text in the world warns about pride being the cause for downfall. This leads to further masking making it hard for people to understand their insecurities and move forward. Very often an awareness of the insecurity helps one move ahead through acceptance and healthy, consistent or productive action. Realising that accepting the self is the first step helps one look for directions and avenues for change. Honouring values and allowing for authentic living making one small change at a time consistently is the second step. Self compassion and allowing the self to make small mistakes along the way to learn from is the third step. Setting up a balance in relationships and surrounding the self with supportive people who care enough to give healthy and honest feedback for growth is the fourth step. The fifth step is the most important. This is self validation. In self validation we learn to objectively learn and grow, accept genuine feedback and compliments and most importantly base our growth on everyday attempts to grow and not on past glory and achievements. We are who we are in this moment. Being who we are in this moment prevents us from being reduced by any failure and inflated by any achievement. Self growth and a well developed self esteem are associated with authentic pride not hubristic pride.
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