Written as part of the #DailyWritingChallenge #pride

Well, what a can of worms this emotion / value is. I feel that I am at a point in my personal development where I am beginning to really come to terms with pride, but I know that I’m not quite there yet.

Just reflecting on the range of responses in our #DailyWriting blog DM group shows how differently people experience this value. It’s definitely something that needs more than a short blog typed into my phone can give but I’m hoping to start to chip away a little if I can.

This morning my husband and I woke up to a handmade Welcome to DisneyWorld poster thrust into our faces by our 11yo daughter. She was dressed in her Disney park attire from our once-in-a-lifetime trip last Summer, including her favourite mermaid-inspired mouse ears. We were given our tickets and downstairs we were treated to some top-class, All-American table service for breakfast before being whisked off to the sofa for a trip on The Little Mermaid Ride – complete with a very realistic queuing experience (just much quicker!). Next was a visit to the souvenir shop before a Star Wars ride and meet & greet with not only Chewbacca but Darth Vader too. Next we were graced with an autograph signing by Cinderella and (after a quick costume change) we got to meet Ariel back in her grotto. River rapids & a lazy river ride in the paddling pool were promised for the afternoon’s entertainment.

She had planned and prepared the whole thing herself and it was VERY impressive. On top of that she looked beautiful, oozed character and confidence, and was downright awesome. I was so PROUD of her – and I told her so.

In her very usual and innocent way she just absorbed the compliments so completely and without even the hint of a flinch of embarrassment. “You’re awesome”; “What amazing ideas” – I know. “You look so pretty”; “You’ve really outdone yourself” – thank you.

These interactions normally wash over me but today, with the #DailyWriting theme of pride they seemed much more poignant than at other times. I find myself wishing that I could accept compliments just as easily and wondering why so many of us can’t. I was proud of her but, more importantly, she was proud of herself and she was happy to share that with us. As a parent, I’ve made a concerted effort over the years to try and help my children develop positive self-talk and, thinking on this today, it certainly seems to be paying off. I really hope she never loses this mindset!

Being openly proud of ourselves and our accomplishments seems hard as an adult because we fear judgement by others. Or, because we worry that we will end up with egg on our face if things change or go wrong … the old ‘pride comes before a fall’ idea.

As part of my own professional development, I have treated myself to the odd coaching session and in one of these early sessions, I was asked to talk about the things about myself that I was proud of. This was hard. Not because there wasn’t anything to be proud of (there was lots!) but because I’d never openly said that I was proud of myself before.

Fortunately, time with my coach is a safe space so it didn’t take long for me to get over the fear of vocalising my pride but it does make you wonder why we struggle so much with it in the day to day.

Being openly proud makes us vulnerable. We risk being considered ‘big-headed’ or ‘too confident’, or being labelled a ‘bragger’. The problem with this is that these assumptions are made by others … there is very little we can do to control it. In fact, I wrote a little bit about this idea in my post on humility a few weeks ago. I think there is much connection between pride and humility, and in the previous post I started to wonder – how much does our humility rely on that of others? (and, vice versa).

When we are proud of ourselves it not only makes us vulnerable but it can also makes others feel vulnerable as well. They can question themself and their own achievements in relation to ours. This seems to be when the negativity towards open pride sets in. I don’t think this is always aimed at the person showing pride, but rather it is much more to do with the other and their relationship with themself.

When others are genuinely pleased for us and to hear of our pride then there is some kind of relationship there – they feel a warmth or love towards us that means they are happy for us. They feel happy or content in knowing we are happy with ourselves. In these cases, the individual is not referring the source of pride to themself, they are secure enough in themself or the relationship to allow the entire experience to be held by the other.

To enable others to be openly proud and to ensure this is accepted for what it is – i.e. a positive self-assertion, there needs to be a safe environment. One that provides a relationship or connection of sorts, and one where individuals do not allow their personal vulnerabilities to colour the others’ sharing of themself.

Where a safe space does not exist, the proud individual needs to remember that they cannot control the responses or opinions of others. It is out of their hands. The real dilemma is whether the proud individual feels empowered enough to share their pride anyway.

Sometimes a silent pride is enough assertion for us and we don’t feel the need to share so the reaction of others isn’t really a concern. However, when we deny ourselves pride because of what we fear others might think or say, then we deny ourselves our truth and there develops an incongruence which eats away at us as we shy away from our sources of pride and, as a result, we lack pride in ourselves and our accomplishments – our self-esteem takes the hit.

It’s a bit of a vicious circle I suppose, in that our diminished self-esteem then leads us to become like those others whose vulnerability served to shadow our pride. We struggle then to accept others’ pride because our own vulnerabilities arise from our low self-esteem and we can’t then help but turn other people’s positives into negatives in an attempt to make ourselves feel better.

I have become braver and feel more empowered to be proud of myself through the benefit of being exposed to safe spaces, such as coaching and genuine relationships with secure and caring others. I feel less restricted by the judgement of others because I am beginning to accept that I cannot control that, and nor do I want to.

In feeling more able to be proud of myself, I am also better able to provide safe spaces in which others can be proud too. I don’t feel threatened by the success of others and I can rejoice in their successes much more easily because I know their success does not mean my failure.

In thinking back to my daughter, I guess that, on my mission to ensure she doesn’t lose her self-confidence and pride in herself, my role is to ensure she always has a safe space in which to be proud. And, in cultivating that ‘safe space’, it is important that I keep my own sense of pride in check by ensuring that I am openly proud of myself and others around her; that I remember to teach her that you cannot be responsible for others’ response towards you; and, that I find safe spaces for myself where I can be with others who are as proud of me as they are of themselves.

So, I guess the questions to close with then are:

How comfortable are you with pride?

How comfortable are you with others’ pride?

How ‘safe’ is the space that you offer to, or create for, others?

Published by clairedutton

KS1 primary school teacher, lifelong learning enthusiast and part-time EdD student. Passionate about teacher agency and professional growth. Asker of questions, avoider of ironing, seeker of a work-life-study balance! Blogging to share, to learn and to grow. You can find me tweeting at @Claire_D_Teach

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