Several Christians I’ve worked with can’t connect with self-love becuase a false humility that says “I can’t celebrate how awesome God made me because I don’t want to be proud”. Nine times out of ten it’s nothing more than a fear of embracing their own God-given strengths. Let me be clear, the fear people feel is real and mostly justified. Often they grew up in a Christian home that taught them how to partner with self-hatred for the sake of becoming more spiritual. It’s not their fault, but it is their responsibility to change that reality.
It’s not humility to belittle, degrade, or downplay the good you offer to the world. It was God who gave you those in the first place. I doubt His thoughts were for you to stay small and insecure while He was giddy with excitement creating your future long before you were even born.
How you tell pride and self-love apart:
It’s always good to start with the definition of each. The difference is subtle, yet it makes a significant impact in the way we interact with ourselves.
Pride: A feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.
Self-Love: Regard for one’s own well-being and happiness (chiefly considered as a desirable rather than narcissistic characteristic).
Pride says I’m amazing because I have, I did, I know, or I own. It means your ability to celebrate yourself is contingent on external circumstances. This causes you to build your identity around your ability to achieve instead of love yourself. It’s what causes people to spiral into depression or worse when they lose their job. Everything is connected to their pride instead of self-love.
It’s like the man in Matthew 7 who built his house on sand. When the challenges of life come, the false foundation will wash away and leave you with nothing.
How to prevent becoming a proudful person:
It doesn’t require you be passive and allow life to dictate how you express yourself. There are a few key things you can do to prevent embracing pride.
Be OK with being wrong – Guys, pay attention to this one… it will make your life a lot easier. 😉 If you feel the need to be right at all costs, you’ll quickly find yourself isolated from those who love you. It simply shows your identity is trapped in pride because being wrong is an attack on your identity. This is a recipe for self-hatred.
Be quick to apologize – The point above is the first step. The second, and more mature one is a willingness to apologize when you’re wrong. This is something that took me a while to learn, but I found connection each time I chose love over pride. Not only that but embracing this as a personal philosophy strengthens your ability to find forgiveness for yourself when you make mistakes. When you make a mistake your inner dialogue goes from “Stupid! How could I do that!!” to “Sorry heart (soul, self, etc), I should have thought of you before I did that”. It’s hard to respond with love for yourself if you’re too proud to apologize to others when you’re wrong.
Know when to be meek – How does this connect to self-love and prevent pride? Each time you choose meekness you display confidence and security in who you are. It’s hard to be meek and proud at the same time. In fact, I would go as far to say it’s impossible. Not only that, but meekness enables you to point your strength inward. It’s a powerful act and a great way to flush out pride in your life.
Speak less than you listen – This is a good life principle in general. It can apply to several areas in life and will benefit you far more than just managing pride in your heart. I’m not dismissing the reality of different personalities and how some are more talkative and outgoing also those who are verbal processors, the list goes on. That said, it’s a powerful approach to life and it does keep your pride in check. Take a moment and think about who you know that you would consider proud… do they talk a lot? It’s a sign of maturity to be known as someone who is a good listener. 🙂
Have the ability to embrace corrective criticism – The thing that’s important, is to allow the criticism to come from those who have your best intention in mind. They could be peers or mentors. It’s likely they see something you may not be able to see for yourself. If their heart is for you then it’s best to swallow your pride and take into consideration what they share.
How to engage with self-love instead of pride:
It may sound cliche, but it’s all about the heart. Really. Going back to the difference between the two you can see how self-love is considering you and pursuing happiness, but without the narcissism that’s connected to an unhealthy need to puff yourself up.
Be OK with celebrating your strengths – We all have them. Ask people who know you well if your list is missing anything. You may be surprised to learn you’re gifted at something you dismissed. This is an indicator you have been afraid in some way to embrace that attribute. Then, take time at least once a day to acknowledge your strengths. Become comfortable with how they make you unique and look for opportunities to use them.
Pause when you do something amazing – It may be due to the Marine Corps, but I’m not great at this one, although I’m working on it. You can ask my wife and close friends. I have a tendency to blow past an accomplishment and keep moving. Here’s the problem with this approach. Over time you become fueled by your need to keep accomplishing more, which can easily slip into pride. Not only that but refusing to take a moment and acknowledge yourself causes you to feel like you’re chasing a standard you’re never able to reach. It’s not pride to take yourself out to dinner with friends to celebrate something you overcame or accomplished.
Become aware of your inner dialogue – This has a ripple effect and reaches far beyond this topic, but being aware of how you communicate with yourself will highlight areas you may need healing or the need to change from self-hatred (false pride) to self-love. We often treat ourselves the way we were treated growing up. We leave our parents, but we pick up the role of being the taskmaster. If you ignore this your pendulum will swing one of two ways. You’ll become oblivious to how you affect those around you, which is pride. Or you’ll spiral into a puddle of self-hatred, which leads to passivity. Both only hurt you in the long run.
Pursue positive triggers – Positive triggers help you access happiness and self-love, and they can unlock hidden strengths you may have had in your past. If you’ve never heard of positive triggers or want to learn more about them click here.
As a Dad, it would break my heart to have any of my children become passive and silent in life for a false perception of my approval. I would much rather have children who are overconfident and need guidance than ones who are passive and unable to thrive in life.
Just imagine how much more God longs for us as a people to step up and own our greatness??
Take one or two of the points above and be intentional with them for a week. Don’t try to tackle all at once. It will only lead to failure and disappointment. Remember, small tweaks to life over an extended period of time creates a ripple effect and will transform you.