Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) and Self Centered Pride
“There are two kinds of pride, both good and bad. ‘Good pride’ represents our dignity and self-respect. ‘Bad pride’ is the deadly sin of superiority that reeks of conceit and arrogance.–John C. Maxwell
Pride paints a rose-colored picture through designer lenses called “denial,” hoping to deflect any wrongdoing. Growing up as a child of angry, hostile, and alcoholic parents, self-centered pride was secondary to breathing. I lived to escape one critical situation after another, and the way I did that was to take a lead in arrogance and blame someone else for my own indiscretions. It was comfortable living in denial with the typical response of, “It wasn’t MY Fault…” It was a disguise of lies.
What is the difference between Self-Centered Pride and Arrogance?
In an article in Psychology Today, printed June 29, 2014, Guy Winch Ph.D. writes in part:
“Psychologists distinguish between two kinds of pride.
- Authentic pride arises when we feel good about ourselves, confident, and productive, related to socially desirable personality traits, such as being agreeable, conscientious, and emotionally stable.
- Hubristic pride, sometimes referred to self-centered pride, is egotism and arrogance at its best, often exhibited in undesirable traits such as becoming contrary, disagreeable, aggressive, having low or brittle self-esteem—and being prone to shame.”
WHAT ARE ACTIONS WE CAN DO TO OVERCOME SELF-CENTERED PRIDE?
Stop denying. Anytime we deny our truth, we hurt ourselves. Denial sends the message that either we are not strong enough to find or to face our truth, or we feel we are not deserving to stand up for our self which is our truth.
Share our truth with others so that everyone can hear in a non-threatening yet honest way.
Admit our mistakes to others. Yes, we all make mistakes, and thank goodness. If we never made mistakes, not only would we be in denial, but self-centered pride would continue to keep us stuck, wearing the garb that protects the world from seeing we were not perfect. Ego would suffocate any chance of our own candidness.
Give Credit where Credit is Deserved. That’s right. When we were locked into the guise of pride, we would never think of deferring to others and saluting their success.
Why? We wanted all the glory for ourselves! We handled it all, didn’t we?
It’s interesting how that worked. When the show appeared as planned, we stood up, took a bow, and took credit for every aspect of the work. But when the show plummeted, we turned to whoever was around us and spouted that it was someone else’s fault things failed!
Practice Active Listening. There is so much communication on any day whirling around us, we take for granted, presume we are listening when, in reality, we already know how we want to respond, what it is we need to say, and how we need to say it. It is as if we’ve cut the person off before they even finish their sentence.
Get Rid of False Beliefs: When we do not give ourselves sufficient nurturing, it is impossible for us to see the baggage we still carry around inside us, called false beliefs. We grew up with them. Who knows where they came from, parents, teachers, friends. Some false beliefs are:
I’ve been doing it this way for years:
I don’t need any help. I can handle it myself;
If it’s not broke, don’t fix it
I don’t need anyone, I’m just fine;
Emotions are for sissies. You don’t need to see mine.
No one has ever complained before now!
They’ll never get rid of me, they need me too much;
Let someone else be in charge and/or take the lead for a change. Let someone else decide or manage the solving of a problem.
What Is The Difference between Healthy Authentic Pride and Arrogance?
Pride is confidence. It is easy to see then how too much pride, as it becomes boastful, sounds like arrogance. Arrogance is insecurity wrapped up to appear to be pride.
Prideful individuals are aware of other people’s ability and are often sensitive to their successes.
Arrogant people come from a place of strong indifference, are boastful and need to be heard with little concern for their choice of words.
Proud people believe in the adage that hard work is worth the wait for success, while arrogant people expect everything to be handed to them.
Proud people understand their core values and sense of self. People of considered arrogance see themselves as better-than, even when and if they are not.
Arrogant People often do these gestures and more:
- Look down their nose on those they serve, or anyone different from them.
- Beat themselves up over minor mistakes. …
- Feel anger as their first response to human frailty.
- Secretly manipulate, rather than openly influence, others
- Help, as if from a high tower position of superiority
- Cheat to win. …
- Consider people as objects to be used for personal gain.
- Often see themselves as ‘better than,’ or would never be ‘caught dead acting, talking, or laughing “like that.”
- See themselves as omnipotent
- Judge everyone and everything
- Have trouble admitting they were wrong.
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS WE CAN DO TO OVERCOME ARROGANCE?
When we acknowledge to ourselves we are self-centered to the max, so arrogant that we close off our thinking from reaching the sunlight of the Spirit. What then, is our solution?
The solution is humility: prayer, meditation, and the promise of a closer relationship with our Higher Power. Step Eleven, taken from the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, is the step we used to become right-sized and to recalibrate an over-exaggerated ego.
Here we speak with our Higher Power and work collaboratively to become the person we most want to be, all the while striving to rid ourselves of self-centered pride. If we don’t know what that is, then we ask in prayer. The answers are already within us. We strive to:
- Seek openness to others’ opinions, their way of doing things, and their suggestions. Believe it or not, there really is more than one way to connect the dots, and one way is not necessarily better than the other, so long as the task gets accomplished (how important is it??)
- Get rid of judgment. We are not judge and jury, no better nor any worse than the next. We just thought we were.
- Keep special attention on your own failures. We know how to recite our successes. But can we, do we, spot our failures? Yes, it is true; we are not perfect. Our ability to “see” our own shortcomings is the first phase of acceptance. It’s an acknowledgment, in fact, that just like everyone else, we too make mistakes. When this happens, humility, instead of self-centered pride, speaks to actions we’ve become ready to be rid of for what we don’t like or need any longer.
- Let others know about your struggle with arrogance (a best friend, sponsor) so they can help to point it out to you in the rare case you neglect to see it. For as we spot our irrational side, pride (and ego) becomes protective, hiding from us what we don’t like to look at. Other people, however, come from a personal perspective of having met your pride upfront. They have the advantage of letting you see how your behavior affected them.
- Remain teachable! No one is above learning something new every day.
- Laugh at yourself and not just in private! Let others ‘see’ your difficulties so others know you are just like them–imperfect but lovable.
- You’re NOT that important!: New in recovery, a dear friend used to tell me to, “GET DOWN FROM THAT CROSS, we need the wood!” Grandiosity and self-centered pride walk hand-in-hand. As we listen, we can hear Grandiosity say to self-centered price, “HA, We are just the best aren’t we? Better than anyone that I know of!” When we remember that in this big picture we are neither favored nor neglected; when we see ourselves as just another cog in the wheel of life, we become “right-sized.” Together with others, we each take on a role to make things happen.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does. Pride takes offense at a spiteful comment. Humility shrugs it off, because it already knows we are all imperfect, no matter our posture.
- We begin by forgiving ourselves first. When we lighten up on ourselves, our need to appear greater than becomes diminished. Others spot it too. The more we work to forgive ourselves, the gentler we become with us, but also with our fellows, friends, and families alike.
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