I was once told a story about a young man who was a first-year medical student. One weekend, he returned to his hometown to visit his father, who, due to unfortunate circumstances, was recently admitted to an institution. While there, the young man came across the people who were staying on his father’s floor. The man struck up conversations with them, and they willingly shared the successes they achieved, the places they traveled, and the well-known people they met. After every conversation, the young man knew everything about them.
They had also made sure he remembered their names before he left. However, none of them asked for his name or what he did. The young man shrugged it off and assumed they knew he was his father’s son – the mayor’s son.
As he entered his father’s room, the young man declared, “Dad, these people are normal. There’s nothing wrong with them. I can’t understand why they are here.”
The father chuckled. He said, “Son, did you notice anything?”
The son shook his head no, trying to figure out what was amiss.
The father continued, “Son, ever since you got here, all they did was talk about themselves. We are all here because we can’t stop talking about ourselves.”
This story is not only humorous but also puts pride into perspective. Known as one of the deadliest sins, pride causes one to focus only on oneself while neglecting and devaluing others.
There is a measure of pride in all of us. Like debt, there is good pride and bad pride. First-time parents who talk about their newborn to everyone they meet is an example of good pride. A fashionista who looks down at another woman because she doesn’t wear name brand clothes is an example of bad pride. In the case of this article, we will focus on the negative pride that demeans, destroys, and devalues others.
There’s also a trend going on where many people are confusing pride with confidence, and vice-versa. I’ve attended many women empowerment conferences over the years. Each one has a similar message that instills self-confidence: “Know who you are, and never accept anything less than the best.”
So, when a woman (who suffered from low self-esteem all of her life) finally displays confidence in who she is and what she does, and doesn’t accept anything less than God’s best for her life, why do some people think she’s arrogant or prideful?
How can we tell the difference between pride and confidence? First, let’s define the two. According to the Oxford Dictionary, pride is defined as “the quality of having an excessively high opinion of oneself or one’s importance; whereas, confidence is defined as “a feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.”
Pride is an attitude that says, “I am better than you; and, I know more than you.” A person may not have to say those exact words, but anyone can spot a prideful woman through her demeanor. If we are not careful, pride can affect every aspect of our lives. Are you a prideful person? When you’re filled with pride people can’t relate to you. They avoid you because they don’t want to be around a person who condescends them. Who wants to be around a person who talks about themselves all day and makes others feel bad? A prideful person doesn’t receive input from others. She constantly craves attention from others. Her identity is based on her achievements and accolades.
However, there’s something about a woman who displays confidence. She knows who she is, and what she wants. She is not easily swayed by people’s perceptions of her. When a confident woman walks into a room, her presence is immediately felt by everyone. She doesn’t have to say anything. She shines her light without overpowering others. She’s willing to listen to others. A confident woman doesn’t seek attention, but if she receives it, she doesn’t dwell on it. She doesn’t make it a source of her identity.
What’s the solution to pride?
A man named Bishop Angelo Barbosa once said, “Don’t swallow your pride. Spit it out. The antidote to pride is humility.” Humility is not about having people take advantage of you. It’s about having a proper perspective and attitude about of oneself and others. We don’t know everything, and we can learn something new from everyone. To keep pride at bay, memorize a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.”