Pride – generally referred to as a high opinion of own dignity, importance, merit or superiority – is an inherent part of human nature. Everyone takes pride in one or several merits, own or other persons. Pride can take many forms. In many cultures pride is inherently linked to honour and while this is not necessarily linked to a feeling of superiority, it is most definitely can be linked to societal perceptions and norms. In many contexts though, pride is perceived negative. Vanity – or excessive pride if you want – can be destroying for yourself as well as for those around you. While the two concepts are inter related, some say that vanity is charlatan, while pride is silent. Hurt vanity might cause frightful suffering, while hurt pride can cause death. Does this mean that pride is all negative?
Pride can be a matter of arrogance, haughtiness snobbery or similar. Yet there is another aspect of pride masqueraded as humiliation. The state or feeling of being proud may vary from person to person and from situation to situation. For some, pride may prevent them from asking for help even when they desperately need it. This can be due to fear of being rejected or it can be related to a feeling of superiority preventing them from bending down, admitting failure or a mistake and simply – ask for help. Why is it that we have such a difficulty with crying out for help? Is it because we are scared to be looked down at and to be perceived a failure or weak in other people’s eyes? Have we created a society where success is the only acceptable way and the only road to pride?
Surely when newspapers or other media highlight stories about people that have chosen to stand up and present their stories (like “I am gay” or “I suffered from depression”) that diverge from “standard” we sometimes admire their courage yet if that was the case why do many others with similar stories remain silent? Simply because it is not fully acceptable and while we hate to admit it, diverging from the standard is the road chosen by the few not the many. It simply affects how we value ourselves – this meaning our pride - which in the next instance is partly a result of how other’s see us.
Worse is when pride and vanity are united and we have a monstrosity. In the name of pride people may cheat, lie, engage in violence or selfishly take advantage of others – all to achieve success. In this, pride – refers to our opinion of ourselves and vanity – to what we would have others think of us. Pride is essentially self-centred but that does not mean it is all negative. Being proud of accomplishments can be positive as can being proud of your close ones; a son, a daughter, a husband/wife. A person can therefore very well be proud without being vain. Pride is in this sense a positive feature often fostered by approval received through others.