7 scenarios in life where you should let your pride down, according to psychology

I’m a big believer in the proverb that ‘pride is a mask of one’s own faults’.

Meaning, the things we become instantly guarded about are often the things that hit a nerve.

These are the parts of ourselves we may feel insecure or bad about.

The uncomfortable emotions it brings up for us leave us feeling exposed. So instead, we hide behind the defense mechanism of pride.

But there is such a thing as healthy pride too.

This is what gives us a sense of ourselves, allows us to feel good about who we are, and provides us with confidence to succeed in life.

The real wisdom lies in recognizing the difference between the two.

Whilst self-esteem is vital, unnecessary ego is always destructive.

With that in mind, in this article, we’ll run through the scenarios where it’s definitely time to ditch your pride.

1) When you’re being stubborn

One of the quickest ways for pride to creep in is through us thinking we’re right, and making others wrong in the process.

The reality is that life is very rarely that black and white. Situations are usually far more complex than what our minds try to reduce them to.

When we dig our heels in it hardens us. And that does nothing for us.

The more inflexible we make ourselves, the more likely we are to break rather than bend.

An unwillingness to compromise or offer compassion turns us into bitter people.

The irony is that it’s us who end up suffering rather than those we are hoping to hurt.

  • Holding grudges
  • Feeling hard done by
  • Trying to win an argument at all costs
  • Seeking revenge

…These are all perfect examples of when it’s time to stop and consider:

Is it better to be right or happy?

Because even when it feels like there are grounds for it, it still does you no good.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying abandon your principles or ignore your boundaries. These are important.

But I am encouraging you to consider whether you are going about those things in the most constructive way and for the right reasons.

Because pettiness has a habit of sneaking up on us when we feel most justified.

We can cling to certain ways of seeing things, decisions, and beliefs when it’s better for all concerned to let go of them.

2) When you need help

Perhaps one of the saddest ways pride can get in our way is stopping us from accepting the help we need.

This may happen when we mistake dignity and pride, getting the two mixed up.

Yet it’s important to remember that dignity is an internal process that helps us treat ourselves and others with respect.

On the other hand, pride happens outside of ourselves and is about preserving our self-image through others’ eyes. 

Unlike pride, dignity is humble so it doesn’t stop us from receiving the support we may need.

As behavioral specialist and lecturer, Gregg Levoy points out:

“The refusal to ask for help is a kind of sickness in itself, even a kind of arrogance—the blind insistence on doing it all by yourself, no matter what—because along with it comes the message that no one’s help is worth the price in vulnerability it will cost you, that ultimately no one can console you, no one can ease your pain, if you yourself can’t. But such cussedness betrays a tremendous lack of faith in others, in the leathery stamina of love, and in your own ability to survive embarrassment.”

We are designed as a species to rely on one another. Far from there being any shame in it, this is the secret to how we have thrived.

3) When you’re not saying how you really feel

Your pride can turn you into a martyr when you refuse to speak up.

Perhaps someone has said or done something that left you feeling wounded.

Rather than express your feelings, you shut down.

Sulking, withdrawal, and other passive-aggressive methods of communication often emerge because our pride won’t let us admit our true emotions.

If we could say what we feel, without judgment or blame, then we may be able to let go of the pain and anger we carry around.

Similarly, sitting on your true feelings rather than admitting to someone that you have a crush on them can be seen as a type of pride.

Other than protecting your ego, what is the benefit of keeping it to yourself?

Because what we find is that expressing ourselves authentically is actually the best way to make peace with who we are and how we feel — as we’re about to see next.

4) When you’re hiding behind a mask

Most of us wear masks.

We may pick and choose which ones to adopt depending on who we’re with and the social situation.

But in order to feel a sense of belonging, we also have to let others in, even if that’s just a select few. 

Pride can get in the way of this when we wear it as a mask to shield ourselves.

Maybe you brag or boast about accomplishments and possessions to try to feel more worthy.

Perhaps you act overconfident for fear that people will see how unsure you really are.

The funny thing about vulnerability is that research shows that whilst we admire it in others, we see it as a weakness within ourselves.

It could be that pride is partly to blame.

nstinct to shield all the parts of ourselves we worry is too messy and that others won’t like gets in the way of authenticity.

And that can be incredibly isolating.

We all want to be seen and understood. If your pride is getting in the way of you showing other people who you really are, you are robbing yourself of this opportunity.

5) When important relationships are at stake

When my pride is about to escalate an argument or tries to convince me to stick to my guns, I try to stop and ask myself:

Is it worth it?

The answer most of the time is a resounding no.

Certainly, when it comes to our closest relationships with those we value and want to stick around.

As John Amodeo Ph.D., MFT highlights in Psychology Today pride can be a destructive force for our connections.

“Pride prevents us from acknowledging our human vulnerabilities. This shame-driven pride makes us too uncomfortable to say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong, I made a mistake.” When pride rules, we believe we’re always right. This makes it difficult to sustain intimate relationships; nobody likes being with a know-it-all.”

6) When you’re cutting your nose off to spite your face

We’ve touched on this already in other scenarios on the list. Misjudged pride can tempt us towards self-destruction.

What I love about the expression “cut your nose off to spite your face” is how graphically it highlights the damage we can do to ourselves when we rush headfirst toward malice and rage.

But our prideful overreaction or insistence about something only winds up making things worse.

Perhaps you act out in anger before you’ve had time to consider the consequences. Or maybe you turn down an opportunity that could have truly benefited you.

As Grant Hilary Brenner highlights it can require plenty of inner strength to avoid falling into this trap.

“Spite does indeed feel like a compulsion, an evil spell, a runaway train; when we feel that sense of moral outrage, we are tempted to go to war. Likewise, scorned lovers—hell hath no fury like one—are often driven to make the other person pay, even if it tears them apart.”

7) When it’s getting in the way of personal growth

 The tricky part of course is, how do you know?

Seeing pride in ourselves admittedly takes a certain level of self-awareness.

Psychology shows how easy it is to cling to cognitive biases that strive to justify our own behaviors and beliefs.

That’s why reflection is your greatest ally in life. Because without the ability to objectively consider yourself, you remain trapped in unconscious conditioning and patterns.

One of the biggest indicators that your pride is stopping your development as a person is when arrogance rears its head.

If you notice conceit or start to feel superior to certain people, your pride probably needs to be reined in.

As explained by the Greater Good Science Center at the University of Berkeley:

“If individuals inflate their importance, take credit for others’ achievements, bully others, or act hostilely and aggressively toward anyone who questions them, it’s a sign that pride has turned to hubris and is hiding a wounded narcissistic personality.”

Pride comes before a fall

Whether it’s the misguided belief that you know or can do more than you really can, or by landing yourself in even greater hot water — pride usually comes before a fall.

That’s why learning and understanding the significant difference between healthy and unhealthy pride can save us a lot of heartache.

I hope this article helped you to consider the role of pride in your life, and whether it is serving you or where it could be holding you back. 

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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