If you’ve read an accounting of someone drowning, or witnessed the horror first-hand, you may know that when the tragic events are unfolding, the victim loses all sense of reason. They become disoriented to that point that the help they are being offered is often pushed away and they put themselves in even greater danger. Those trying to save them often perish as the drowning victim pushes them under trying to find their own way out.
Sadly, the same can be said for those who live in a world so over-inflated by pride and lack of positive self-esteem. Their world is a house of cards built to protect their ego. The proud exaggerate their accomplishments, struggle with self-admiration and have an overwhelming need to be at the center of everyone else’s circle. They are the ones who dominate every conversation, brag about their vacations, list all of their degrees and memberships on their email boiler plates, etc.; they live in a world of constant drama to ensure the spotlight is always on them. Most of us are blind to the pride that overshadows our ability to approach life from a balanced vantage point; we don’t see it for the evil force it can be in our lives.
What does pride look like? It makes us struggle to admit our mistakes. Prideful people feel like they know everything. Pride makes you need to have control over other people and situations. Pride will make you inflexible and unwilling to change unless you can initiate it and have it your way (that control thing again). People who struggle with pride think they are better than others, whether they ever articulate it or not. They harbor grudges, cannot forgive easily and feel very self-righteous about their offenses.
“Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves.”
― Emily Brontë
Like the drowning man, struggling with issues of pride and lack of positive self-esteem is a horrible, frightening nightmare. Flailing in the water and struggling for air, it becomes difficult to find the outreached hand of help. The survivor-fighter mode is so strong, as they scratch and claw for every breath, that nothing is sacred in their path. Anyone, anything in their way will be sacrificed in their own fight for survival.
Low-self esteem is pride. It is easy to criticize and judge others on the flaws we see in ourselves. When we pick on people about how they dress, their parenting skills, the quality of their work, etc., it is judging. The result is that we feel better about ourselves; that’s pride. The feeling, however wonderful, is short-lived. It is usually followed by a lot of “I wish I had said…” or “I should have,” “I could have,” and even worse, “How could I have…” We do all this to distract our own selves away from the feelings of inadequacy in our self. That darn pride, again!
We are all guilty. We do it because we’re afraid! Afraid our own short-comings will be exposed. People might find out we’re not as good of a spouse as we’d like to be. Not the perfect parent we aspire to. That our job is not as secure as we had hoped. That we have a secret addition no one knows about. That we battle with feelings of self-worth and failure. That our mask will fall off.
Overcoming issues of pride and self-esteem are very real, very emotional and critical to leading a full and outrageously wonderful life. I fight the fight every day and admittedly don’t always win. Thankfully, in my seasoned age I am learning to win more than I lose and humbly learning the most important lesson of all that comes with fighting the good fight in this arena:
Humility is the antidote for pride and low-self-esteem and God at my center keeps me humble.
Having a healthy outlook on life, that critical foundation for this outrageous life I am building, requires me to stay grounded. It means taking myself out of the center and submitting to one greater than myself. God made me in his image. He loves me for me and accepts me just they way I am. He gives me opportunities to mold and sculpt myself daily, to learn how to trust him, lean into his plan and count on his mercy and daily blessings. When I let go of all of the distractions and the self-imposed responsibilities that come with it, this amazing world of happiness, healthy living and my aspired outrageously wonderful life awaits.
Pride and ego are a deadly house of cards. The higher you stack the control, the judging, the attacks on others, need to have your hand in every aspect of everything your world touches, the more precarious your entire life becomes. It is truly a house of cards in a Potemkin village. Fix it before it falls.