Are we prejudiced about Pride?

Pride isn’t something us British do well, self-deprecation being preferred – and I think that’ can be real problem – for pride doesn’t have to be smug, loud or arrogant, it can be quiet, well-earned and good for self-esteem.

There’s a real epidemic in low self-esteem – far too many very capable and competent people struggle with it. The reasons are wide ranging, but feeling you mustn’t celebrate your achievements or your qualities certainly can’t help.

We’ve all heard the term “Pride comes before fall” and even if it doesn’t happen naturally, the UK tabloid press or social media will be sure to tear down a person who they believe has become too big for their boots. But what’s wrong with pride? The dictionary defines it as “a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s achievements, qualities or skills”. There’s absolutely no mention of being smug or shouty, or of bragging and flouting, nor of looking down on others – and while some proud people can also behave badly in these many ways, it is not pride which is at fault.

Many of us take our understanding of pride (and proudness) from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but Miss Austen is clever and she is toying with us. For it is the lesser used adjective – prideful (dictionary meaning “arrogant and disdainful”) which is the real problem, whereas that same dictionary describes pride as “being gratified or feeling honoured” which I believe makes clear the difference.

Having, keeping or cherishing mementos of your achievements is a good thing. You don’t have to go all Feng Shui about it, displaying your achievements on the wall facing your career luck direction (unless you want to), but making sure that you keep evidence of those good things you’ve done, those things which you’re proud of having achieved, from the mundane to the amazing, can prove to be a valuable resource when your self-esteem needs a boost.

This practice is especially important if you are someone who is externally, rather than internally, validated. Neither one is better than the other, by the way – it’s simply how you’re wired. I am externally validated, and I regret not holding on to many things from my past which could’ve provided me with a boost on those days when self-doubt have crept in. But I was all British about it and threw everything out. Fortunately, I’ve been able to recall the emotions they generated – good, healthy, helpful, life-affirming emotions.

These days I advocate collecting your evidence, and keeping it safe. You can put it in a book, a folder, or a file. You can take snaps to keep online if you’re determinedly paper-free. You could go all out and create a display, even a video. The size of the achievement doesn’t matter, simply that the acknowledgement of it made you feel good, feel gratified, or honoured. I cannot tell you the difference having something like this would’ve made to the vast majority of my coaching clients.

How comfortable are you with Pride? Do you keep evidence of your achievements? If so, do you simply store it, or do you display it?

16 thoughts on “Are we prejudiced about Pride?

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  1. Maybe I should have read this before letting Andy get rid of all my dancing plaques and awards (and his own). Or maybe I just needed a bigger house in which to display them. You’re right, though, that folks tend to equate pride with arrogance. It’s okay (and common) to tell someone you’re proud of them, but overt pride in one’s own accomplishments is frowned upon. Especially if you are a woman, I think. It goes hand-in-hand with women who seek office being heavily criticized (how dare Hillary Clinton think she’s qualified to be President) versus women being praised when someone else appoints them to a position (look at what a great Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is). Meanwhile men who do nothing but brag/ lie about their supposed accompaniments get elected.

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  2. Great title!

    I think struggling with pride is a universal human condition. How many times do we hear “thank you” and reply with “it was nothing”? It was not nothing. It was something! Own it!

    Having said that, I think we’re afraid of “owning it” because there’s a fine line between genuine pride and boastfulness, whether real or perceived. I recently did something counter to my own usual self-deprecating nature and took pride in an accomplishment that took years of hard work. When applying for our home loan, the lender ran our credit, of course. And one of my scores came back at 840. That’s just about as high as you can get! I relayed this news to my parents and literally told them how proud I was to have achieved that. I struggled with finances for many years and even had to short sell my townhouse in 2014, so to rebound from that to having a great credit score truly is an accomplishment that I felt was worthy of touting.

    I totally owned it!

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  3. I had a discussion with someone about this…pride is good. We should be proud of ourselves. Now, we don’t need to be arrogant. We don’t need to be boastful. But we should be accepting of our accomplishments both big and small

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  4. I agree we should be proud of our achievements. Now, having said that my 3 degrees are stuffed away somewhere and I have no intention of hanging them up anywhere now that I am retired. If they gave out awards for surviving 2 troublesome marriages, that is something I would display with pride. 😉


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  5. I agrée with LA. There’s such a thing as quiet pride. You should take personal satisfaction from your achievements, and keeping mementos from those achievements is a good way of reminding yourself of what you’ve accomplished. They don’t need to be on display so much as mementos (awards, letters, cards, certificates, etc) you come across or take out from time to time.

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  6. Oh Autumn, what a shame 😦 It’s hard when the decluttering drive is a good one, and stuff like that certainly does take up space. Can I ask if you took pictures of them or maybe had certificates for them as well? Those could be held electronically. That said, no doubt the day will come when we’re going to drown in exterior drives holding all our “stuff” 😀

    Yes, yes, yes to your example of Hillary Clinton. It makes me so mad. The utter nonsense that male politicians get up to without the same level of judgement (actually males in any area, but that’s another topic for another day).

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  7. Why thank you kind sir (bobs curtsey)! I can do a virtual one, but the cronky knee would probably laugh at me for think I’d be ok to try it in real life 😀

    Yup, that whole “gee shucks, it was nothing” thing is prevalent, except among those who should be more modest. Well done you on that credit score. Whoop, whoop! There is no better feeling than turning that situation around, so you should be proud of it.

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  8. Yeah, exactly LA. I meant to say feeling proud doesn’t mean you’ll behave like an ass, except when you’re already an ass. I may’ve had a strong word in mind and so edited myself 😉

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  9. Totally agree on deserving awards for surviving troublesome marriages Deb. Although they do say that the best way to show ’em, is to live a fabulous life which you are surely doing.

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  10. Yes indeed Jane. I had a couple of major declutters after my previous relationship ended. There was a lot of “stuff” and I enjoyed reading some of it, but now wish I’d thought to take snaps of them and store them on a hard drive. One job in particular which I left feeling very undervalued by my colleagues (it was a thankless job with a huge staff turnover), yet received amazing letters of thanks from the clients, a couple of whom were very tough and demanding cookies indeed. Also a text my daughter sent me shortly after my 50th birthday which I lost after my phone was stolen – I wish I’d found a way to save that. I’ve bottled the feelings, but it would be nice to still have them somewhere safe.

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  11. I don’t display anything that would suggest I’ve been successful in the ways you mention. That’s because I don’t care I suppose. I know I done good and that’s enough for me. Whether that is prideful I don’t know, but I’ll muse on it.

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  12. Well said, Debs. I definitely agree that there is a big difference between feeling pride and being prideful. Taking pride in your accomplishments not only boosts your self-esteem, but helps build your resilience and can give you courage the next time you face something challenging.

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  13. Interesting Ally, I had to stop and think twice about what you’ve said. I don’t believe it is prideful, because your pride is quiet and internal, you’re not behaving like a jerk, or displaying any other unpleasant or negative behaviour traits. That’s what I think anyway, and I hope you’ll agree. You’re definitely not someone I would consider prideful.

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  14. Thanks Christie, it’s an interesting distinction. To be honest, I don’t believe pridefulness is found in those who aren’t jerks. But maybe that’s just my reading of it. I agree that taking pride in what you do and in your achievements does build resilience – which can only be a good thing.

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