Have you ever been frustrated by a friend who is really prideful? At times it can feel like being next to black hole—a point in outer space that, because of its extremely intense gravity, has collapsed on itself and sucks in everything within it’s range.
Prideful people have their focus on themselves, what they like and what they want to do; they are also very closed off to the opinions of others, and when criticized or confronted, they go on the defense; they deflect, deny, and often launch a counter-attack. Pride is a relationship killer because it shuts down intimacy and kills genuine, honest, and open dialogue.
One of the most insidious things about pride is that it deceives and blinds people, especially those who have it. “Pride inclines you to see pride in others and overlook it in yourself” (Samuel Johnson). Benjamin Franklin once said, “There is perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive. Even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”
Sadly, we must all face the fact that we suffer to some degree from pride’s vise-like grip on our hearts. If we are to ever live whole and fruitful lives, enjoying the wonderful benefits of loving relationships with others, then we must do all we can to root pride out of our lives.
Here are three things that will aid us greatly in lessening its effects.
- Develop close relationships with others
The nature of pride causes people to lose relationships, so if we find a trail of broken relationships behind us, then we have to stop and take a hard look at the pride in us. Because pride blinds us to the pride in ourselves, we must cultivate relationships with others. We don’t have eyes in the back of our head, so of course there are always things behind us that we can’t see. Having people in our lives, especially those we trust who have been given permission to speak honestly with us, allows is to get a full perspective of ourselves. Developing real, solid relationships with others will go a long way in helping us see our own pride.
- Develop the habit of honestly looking at the feedback of others
Developing close relationships with others goes hand-in-hand with being open to their feedback. For many people prideful behavior is merely a mask, a defense mechanism for the pain they feel when rejected. Criticism is often heard as, “You are no good,” or “There is something wrong with you.” Of course other’s comments, corrections, and opinions are not always right, but we must be willing to honestly look at and evaluate them, and then take corrective steps if we see some truth there. Determine to drop defensive postures, denial, deflection, and counter-attacks. You can’t change what you don’t see and acknowledge, so looking to develop trusted friendships with others who will provide us with honest feedback and wise counsel is another great step toward eliminating pride in our lives.
- Train yourself to put others first
Pride is always about self, so one way to counter it is through humility. We have to avoid false humility, which is a self-debasing, “I’m not good enough type of behavior,” and embrace true humility which allows us to see things as they really are, and not assert ourselves over others. By lifting and promoting others instead of ourselves, we are training ourselves to not be self-promoting, self-righteous, and all the other “self-centered” behaviors. Putting others first can start with things as simple as allowing others to go ahead of us in line, not taking the last cookie, holding doors open, and listening more instead of cutting others off in conversations. Consciously putting others first is a great way to rid ourselves of pride.