A few months ago, we talked with our students about humility (you can check out that blog post HERE). In our discussions with our students, we pointed out that you can be humble and confident at the same time. We noted that you can only truly be humble if you have nothing to prove, and from that comes a confidence in where you're currently at.
That confidence can go by another name: Pride. By definition, pride is a consciousness of one's own dignity. If you are aware that your life and actions have value, then that satisfying feeling you get when you look in the mirror and reflect on your life is called "pride".
But there are two types of pride. First, there is pride that elevates you up. When you accomplish a goal, you absolutely should feel pride. That gratification you feel when you think about who you are should give you a confidence boost as you realize that you are a valuable member of society.
But negative pride doesn't elevate yourself by reflecting on who you are as a person. Instead, it boosts your confidence by putting other people down. Remember, pride is an acknowledgment of your own dignity. But if you feel proud because you are "better" than the person next to you, then you are not acknowledging anything about yourself, but instead belittling your neighbor.
That's the first point I want to make: Pride, when felt correctly, comes from who YOU are and not from who SOMEONE ELSE is.
But let's take that a step further. How do you know you should feel pride? Do you feel pride when you get up in the morning and look at yourself in the mirror? Or do you only feel proud when someone pays you a compliment about how nice you look today?
I think about this a lot with my daughters. Most likely, there will come a day when they want to wear make up. Now, I am not against it, but I want to make sure they understand how to use it correctly. They should not wear make up so that other people will think they are pretty. That's not pride, in fact, it's a lack of confidence because you are depending on the opinion of other people. But that doesn't mean make up is evil. No, make up is fine but it should be used only if you want to use it. It should be used because it makes you feel good. And if you are truly taking pride in yourself, then that feeling of dignity doesn't leave when you wipe the make up off. Because true pride is about being happy with who you are.
Now I used make up as an example, but it could be applied to wearing fancy clothes or trying to achieve good grades. Those aren't bad things, but they shouldn't be the reason you feel proud of yourself. Remember you don't have value because people love you or you have the nicest clothes, or the prettiest hair or the best front kick. You have value. Period. You need to love yourself and take pride in who you are. When you look in the mirror, be proud of who you see. There is no one else like you, so be the best you that you can be.
About the Author
Master Matthew Eyler is a 4th degree black belt in the Korean martial art of Tang Soo Do and a New York State certified general and special education teacher. He has over 20 years experience practicing self-defense and teaching students of all ages and abilities.