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