Pride is a deadly sin for a reason. Pride almost killed me and it still continues to almost kill me when I allow it back into my life. Pride is the antithesis of listening and learning, and therefore it is one of the biggest enemies of improvement and development. The thing about pride is it gives you the illusion that you know best. That what other beings have to offer couldn’t possibly be what’s best for you. It impedes your ability to take suggestion, to listen, and therefore extremely inhibits your ability to change. Sometimes we need to change, we need to open our ears and close our mouths. For me my pride convinced me that because I was intelligent (or so I thought) that I need not listen to other people, how could they know better than me? It was an impossibility I thought, there was no way I was wrong about anything, let alone certain things.
Obviously this is pride run riot to the extreme, and not everyone lets their pride get in the way to the point where they end up drug addicted and on the brink of suicide. But the fact is, we all allow pride into our lives in an unhealthy manner. Simply put, if you’ve ever ignore the advice of someone, or played down the value of experience and wisdom because you thought you had everything under control, you’ve allowed your pride to interfere with your life. Pride is that evil voice in your head that convinces you that you’ve got it, that you’re in control, and worst of all, that you’re right. Pride also breeds stubbornness; stubborn people are full of pride. They are unwilling to part with their old ways because they refuse to believe that their old ways are incorrect, or often times even detrimental to their own life.
This resistance a lot of people have to being told what to do is a prime example of this. Nobody likes being told what to do, because they don’t like not being in control of their own life. But the fact of the matter is when we hijack control of our own lives, we aren’t in control, we are simply letting our pride take the driver seat. Our pride doesn’t want what’s best for us; it just wants to be the leader. Pride would rather have us drive our life into the ground, knowing that it was in control the whole time, than build our life up based on the suggestions and direction of other people.
Self-centredness is the breeding ground for pride. When we are self-centred we not only behave in a manner that is all about us, but we think in a manner that is all about us. It’s not that we lose our sense of empathy for others, we simply numb and ignore it, or shrink it so we have more time to focus on ourselves. When we start down the patterns of thought that create self-centredness, then we live in an echo chamber of our own minds. All we have is our own ideas to listen to, we effectively block out the realities of other people’s existence. There are people far stupider than you that have a far greater wealth of wisdom than you could ever imagine. People you think are stupid but you could learn copious amounts from. But when we are stuck inside ourselves, whirling around in our own self-centredness, the only thing we listen to is our pride.
Pride even breeds resentment for us. It elevates us to a level in which we think we know everything, and we become angry or annoyed with others who think they have the answers. If all we are thinking about is ourselves, surely we know ourselves best and have all our own answers. That’s what our pride tells us, and when people outside of us think they have our answers, or know what we ought to do, it damages our pride. Our pride is vehemently opposed to being damaged, in fact it hates it. And when our pride gets transgressed we become angry and resentful towards whatever damaged it. This type of thinking is so easy to fall into, but it’s so important to break.
It doesn’t matter if you truly are the smartest person in the world, you can’t expect to have all the answers, and you can’t expect to not make errors. People you consider far less intelligent may actually have the answer you’re looking for, but if you don’t abandon that pride, you will shun those ideas out until you reach the brink of insanity or an emotional breaking point, and you either die or let your pride finally take a backseat. Now of course pride isn’t always manifesting itself so negatively. There is nothing wrong in being proud of yourself, or having a sense of pride to a degree. But finding that fine line between a healthy sense of pride, and this totalitarian ruler pride can become, is often very difficult.
I think pride will always be present, and it’s more a manner of relearning when it’s useful and when it’s detrimental. You need to convince your pride that being right is far less important than being on the right path; that you would much rather have been wrong, and set straight, than always been right. Because where is the utility in always being right if your life isn’t enjoyable? We have to learn that we would rather have been wrong about nearly everything, and thus been able to augment our lives into happy and fulfilled ones, than be right and be driven into misery and depression.
- Jack A. Bingham
Author of Obsessive-Compulsive Dramatic: My Fight Against OCD, Borderline Personality Disorder, and Addiction