There is a difference between being proud of something and being prideful. It’s a small semantic difference but an important one. One can be proud without hubris…..hubris makes us prideful.
The Proverb saying “pride goes before the fall of humanity” points to hubris, that feeling that we are high, strong, powerful and untouchable. Pride, being proud, is not hubris, it is taking comfort in things with you and around you that make you feel worthy, that make you feel you are accomplished, not superior.
The things people take pride in can help you understand them, what drives them, what they spend their time on, what their priorities are. We talk about the things we are proud of, we polish them, we groom them, we display them to give us part of our sense of worthiness.
Okay….I’m making these statements as proclamations of fact. They are like a lot of my facts; they are facts to me until one of you convinces me differently. Go ahead, make my day.
It helps you to know my bride, Marty, a bit when you understand and know the things she is most proud of, those things in her life that build her sense of being. If you ask her she doesn’t think about it at all, the first thing is always, our children, Matt and Erin.
Marty has always been proud to be a mother. She was a natural, not perfect, but really really smart and loving with our kids.
She is practically boastfully proud of both Matt and Erin. If you ask her, what she is most proud of, they are the first and often the only thing she will offer. When I asked her why she was so proud of them she answered very simply, “They have become very good people.” That’s the perfect answer.
Marty is proud of her education, shoot we are all proud of her education. I remember when she finished her dissertation and received her doctorate we all felt like we had accomplished something. Yes, we all took credit for something that she alone achieved, but we, me, our kids, her parents, were all invested in Marty’s efforts. She enlisted all of us in her pursuit and when she accomplished her goal we all were proud of her and the achievement itself.
Marty has always been proud of her heritage, she took pride in where and who she came from. Her upbringing in the panhandle of Texas by a man who was a self made agricultural entrepreneur made her feel good about herself. She always saw herself as someone who could do anything, which came from the parents who told her she could do and survive anything. Guess what….she has survived anything.
This brings us to her taking pride in the seemingly simple task of surviving. If you ask Marty about pride she talks about surviving the strokes, but it’s more than her just surviving the events. She is proud of the fact she has survived the strokes but she also is proud that she has survived the procedures, that she has survived the indignities of intimate care with her dignity intact, that she has kept her humor when so many events were humorless and that she has survived the endless gauntlet of giving others control over her everyday life.
Pride is not a bad thing; taking pride in yourself is not inherently bad. The things we take pride in are clearly important to us, maybe the most important things in our lives, maybe they are the things that help define us to ourselves and to other people.
I’m proud Marty is still here, I’m proud we have made a life in the midst of this new normal, I’m proud of the care all of us, together, have provided for Marty.
See, it works; you get a clearer picture of me too.