The Opposite of Pride is Not Shame

The opposite of pride is not shame.

Pride is knowing your strengths, and humility is knowing your weaknesses.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this recently.

I’ve been accused many times in my life of being arrogant or prideful, but prideful (full of pride) seems like a good thing to me if pride is simply recognising your own strengths.

Arrogance is another beast altogether (that I wrestle), and I think of arrogance as the belief in one’s own superiority.

The appearance of that self-deception, for me anyway, comes as a compensatory reaction to feeling judged and misunderstood.

Regardless, it’s an ugly, destructive behaviour.

But pride on the other hand… pride is intellectual honesty about what strengths you possess.

You did not choose those strengths, so you cannot possibly take credit for them.

You simply, blindly drew that hand of cards from the deck of the universe.

Lucky you.

You get all of those strengths, and you get to apply them to enrich your life and the lives of those around you.

Lucky us.

Humility, the equally important counterpart to pride, is important, too, because your weaknesses are how you hurt yourself and others.

Sometimes, your weaknesses even leverage your strengths against yourself or others.

For example, I’m an expert mental gymnast; I can rationalise my way into just about any situation or behaviour, even if it hurts myself or others, using my intellect (generally thought of as a strength) if I’m feeling fearful, lonely, or feeling unsafe.

I’ve been looking harder at my weaknesses these days, and in doing so, am seeing some of the hideous and excruciating ways that those weaknesses have hurt me and others.

To say I’ve been humbled would be an understatement.

However, I’m working on recognising the difference between being humbled and being ashamed, and accepting my characteristics for what they are: malleable features of a textured, complex human.

So just as I’m proud of (neither arrogant about nor ashamed of) my strengths, I’m working on being humble about (not ashamed of) my weaknesses, and – most importantly – working hard to not let those weaknesses hurt me or others.

So there’s that.

Hopefully that’s helpful.

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5 Comments

  • Robin Coffman

    Thank you so much for being willing enough to be vulnerable in sharing this insight, experience, and questioning. I appreciate the depth and dimension of that sharing …

  • Chrissie Smith

    Great post. I also believe you can be humble about your strengths, not just your weaknesses. The Bible teaches that pride comes before a fall, and in that way I think it is similar to your word “arrogance”. I think we can be humbled by knowing that we have done nothing at all to deserve or earn any God-given (or, in your case, universe-given) blessing that we possess, and in that way, our strengths make us no better than any other human being. The Bible also teaches that being humble about your strengths grants you honor! Its one thing to be a lonely friendless and dishonorable person with a lot of outward strengths, but another thing to be a well-respected person with only a moderate amount of strengths that people just love being around. It really makes one consider what attributes are most important in life. Love your blog, Dallas. Thank you.

  • Marta Tracy

    We love you Dallas Hartwig.

  • Suzanne Burton

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautifully and cleanly expressed exploration of yourself with us. It seems that when someone opens up about him/herself in such a way as to just say what it is without so much judgment, it makes it easier for me to explore these pieces of myself as well, without being so hard on myself. Growing beyond is easier if I don’t get caught up in negative self-judgment. For that, I thank you.

  • Jake Duncan

    Thanks for sharing your heart and journey Dallas. God has gifted you with many strengths and it’s cool to watch your journey of coming into and refining many of those gifts. Just to be clear, your gifts were given to you for very specific purposes. No chance or luck was involved in your design. Thanks again for being transparent, vulnerable and real.

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