Why This is THE Deadliest of the Deadly Sins
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall — Proverbs 16:18
What amount of pain, to you or to loved ones or colleagues or even a stranger would be worth ignoring and continuing the practice of prideful, arrogant, harmful behavior?
I think the answer is — NONE!
The principle the above Old Testament scripture states is timeless. Stating it in simpler terms — Pride will do you in.
It is easy and tempting to slap a simple label on our problems. Our flaws, issues, challenges. Perhaps we think they become easier to deal with that way. Obvious simpler to define. Simpler to manage? I think not. Or maybe we can then claim to understand them better. To effectively deal with them.
But labeling them doesn’t necessarily make them easier to deal with or to address. Just like a doctor diagnosing you with an illness. The labeling is a start. The heavy lifting comes next. The problem is, with Pride, there usually is no heavy lifting.
Probably more accurately, the labeling leads to a justification.
Having identified the issue, we are ready to proclaim that this is not really a problem.
It’s not an issue!
“Pride is not really a problem”, we say. “It’s just human nature. Nothing to be worried about. Nothing to be done about it. That’s just the way it is. The way we are. We need not concern ourselves with it. Besides, we are powerless to do anything about it anyway”.
I beg to differ.
It is the issue!
It is the problem!
“We are rarely proud when we are alone.” ― Voltaire
But instead of acknowledging it, for those of us in denial, we merely brush it off and justify the behavior as the normal human condition. There’s nothing wrong with us. Much ado about nothing.
This is a common trap we fall into. Justification! The Pride and Arrogance monsters claim us before we even realize it. We justify our behavior as just a normal way of life. Par for the course. Most everyone likes to brag, no?
What’s wrong with a little ringing of our own bell?
We just don’t recognize the damage this causes to ourselves, and to others.
“A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”
― C.S. Lewis
So how does one effectively deal with these issues of Pride, Egoism, and Arrogance?
As I have said, and come to realize, the biggest challenge with Pride, is that often we don’t really know we suffer from this disease. But even when we do realize it, Pride itself gets in the way of being willing to do something about it.
But first, you have to realize and admit that you suffer from this disease. So let’s see how we do that.
A Mini Inventory of Pride
You can perform a simple self evaluation of pride by engaging in a personal check in. Ask yourself how you behave in day to day interactions with others. Examine how you think about situations and what you say to people. See if any of the questions I’ve listed below describe who and how you are.
Or perhaps you see these issues in someone close to you. Either way, run through the questions honestly and completely.
If you can’t see yourself clearly enough, or think you might be fooling yourself into a false sense of security, ask a trusted person to help you answer these questions. And if this is for a friend or loved one, and you are too close to offer a candid appraisal, help them find someone who can.
Take yourself through this inventory and ask these questions.
A Full Frontal Assault on the Pride Monster
- Am I placing my self importance, pride and ego above and in front of other things and other people in my life?
- Am I power hungry? Frequently boasting about my achievements?
- When others speak about something they have accomplished or achieved, do I immediately chime in with my achievements and take the wind out of their sails? Am I taking over the conversation?
- Have I alienated people around me by selfishness and prideful behavior?
- Is my self centered behavior negatively impacting relationships? Are people avoiding me? Have I lost contact with people as a result? Do I find myself on the outside looking in more often than not?
- Have the kind of people that surround me and that I attract changed? Perhaps for the worse? Is this a new and perhaps less desirable crowd?
- Am I acting in a self righteous manner and being judgmental of others?
- Do I overvalue myself? Constantly play the big shot? The Big Person on Campus?
- Does my ambition undercut colleagues, subordinates, family or friends?
- Do any of the problems I encounter come about as a result of my selfishness, arrogance and self centered behavior?
- Do I believe I’m smarter than everyone else, or at least most people I interact with?
- Am I convinced I possess mental prowess, unique skills and knowledge?
- Do I take every opportunity to demonstrate my superiority in any area?
- Have my associates tried their best to counsel and help me with my pride and ego? Have people close to me, or anyone, pulled me aside to tell me about my behavior?
- Do I love being on stage? Being the center of attention? The life of the party? Do I hunger for the spotlight? When I lose the spotlight during a gathering do I push aside others and crowd myself back in?
- Am I unaware, perhaps oblivious of the power of my words on others? Am I witty and poke fun, taunt and use my communication skills, wit and the power of biting sarcasm on others? Am I doing it to feed my ego?
- Do I have a trophy case? An Ego Wall? A gaudy, tacky, flamboyant display of my ego, self-centeredness and narcissism?
- Have I commissioned a portrait of myself?
- Do I engage in self-promotion? Do I ring my own bell? Do I frequently say, perhaps in more subtle ways “Look at what I did!”.
- Do I do the things I do for all the wrong reasons? Do I I join civic, volunteer and community organizations, attend events and give to charities not for the pure selfless act of giving and doing and contributing, but for the recognition, prestige, and fame?
- Must I always be the Solution and Answer person? When someone jumps in with an answer do I get irritated? Do I feel it’s my job to provide the answers?
- How do I handle being wrong? Do I EVER admit to being wrong? Is it always some circumstance or external event or do I blame someone else for the wrong? Or do I go to extremes to prove I am right, even for insignificant or minor points?
Some tough questions, huh?
I told you it was a Full Frontal Assault.
Your answers to these questions will offer invaluable insights into who you really are and how you come across to others. If you answer these questions honestly and transparently, as painful as some of the answers might be, you will begin to complete a total picture of yourself.
It may just be a picture that you don’t like. And hopefully one that spurs you on to some real action.
But I’m not going to share that with you in this article. The potential action comes next…
“Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves.”
― Emily Brontë
Call to Action
Do the inventory! And stay tuned for Part II.
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