Feeling pleased by just completing my latest book, which I co-authored with my wife Ruth, I got the idea for the topic of this blog.
Based on their religious or spiritual training, many people subscribe to the precept that pride is a character flaw. For years I have challenged the commonly accepted belief that attitudes, feelings and expression of pride are undesirable.
As a psychotherapist with over four decades of professional experience, I assert that self-esteem is the foundation of healthy psychospiritual development and character-building. Without a strong sense of self-worth, including pride about one’s accomplishments, a person feels unhappy and unfulfilled in life. Moreover, one needs to first have a solid sense of himself in order to gradually renounce aspects of ego.
Each of us needs to learn to discern the differences between a positive versus egotistical sense of ourselves. Narcissism involves grandiosity, excessive vanity and blatantly tooting one’s horn.
I witness and am turned off by many instances of false modesty or what I refer to as prideful humility. Too often I hear someone who is being acknowledged deflecting credit or allocating the bulk of it to others. An example is a quarterback who has had a great game or season attributing his success to the blocking of the offensive linemen or to his receivers’ prowess. Certainly, I feel it is appropriate and fitting to acknowledge team or group contribution, but at least accept some personal credit, without deflecting it. Of course, none of our accomplishments or virtues are purely self-generated; we’re all strongly influenced by our parents, close relatives, friends, teachers and others.
On that note, I advocate attaining sincere and deep humility. For me, the essence of humility is realizing that literally all of life’s gifts are the result of Divine Grace. In other words, all praise is quintessentially or ultimately due to God. Each of us best flourishes by aligning her will to the Divine Will, to the best of her understanding and ability.
Note: Our new book is Secrets of a Soulful Marriage: Creating and Sustaining Loving, Sacred Relationships, Jim Sharon, Ed.D. and Ruth Sharon, M.S. Woodstock, VT: Skylight Paths Publishing, 2014.