Saint Augustine called negative pride, “The love of one’s own existence.” What is so negative about loving oneself?
I believe that valuing oneself with good self-esteem is a good thing. The problem starts when comparing begins. Negative pride can be defined as an undue sense of one’s own superiority or an inordinate sense of arrogant self-esteem.
Superiority can’t exist without comparing our sense of self with others. And when we compare and find ourselves superior, we are exhibiting negative pride.
What is the connection to Addiction?
An addict continues to use something/some behaviour despite adverse consequences.
The key word with addicts is denial. Denial means a refusal to acknowledge that there is a problem.
If we can’t acknowledge or even see that pride is working destructively in our lives, then just like an addict, we have a problem that produces adverse consequences.
As a counsellor, I have observed that negative pride is the most destructive element in all our human relationships.
Just like an addict, it offers immediate gratification and provides deleterious long term effects. For example, “I am right and you are wrong,” produces an immediate victory, but it often ruins the relationship, and sometimes forever.
C.S. Lewis said, negative pride sits in our head and we don’t even see it. We don’t even know that we are hurting other people. The lack of awareness and denial that it exists causes ongoing negative consequences in our relationships.
Some people think pride is a false front to protect our undervalued self. Some people are just so smart that they don’t care what other people think – they just arrogantly proceed through life as a bully.
Whatever the cause, Proverbs 11:2 says: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
As the old expression warns, “Pride goeth before the fall.”
What does this warning mean for us? We need to understand what negative pride is so that we can recognize it. We need to see how it is working in our lives. We need to acknowledge it, which is what the alcoholics do. They confess it and lay it down. How do we recognize negative pride? Look for comparing, for competing and judging ourselves as better, right and arrogantly superior.
Then stop comparing and in humility, lift others up. Loving others produces great relationships. Pridefully putting others down destroys relationships.
Be like an AA member. Stop denying your pride. See it for what it is – a real problem. Acknowledge it and then learn to stop comparing. Look at others and stop looking at yourself. Love others and enjoy the fruit of great relationships.