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David R Hawkins writes in his book, Power Vs Force, that there are various levels of consciousness. Not too many people are able to jump from one level to the next one in their lives. It takes a lot of conscious effort. Upto a certain level, it is highly unlikely without external help.
One of these levels, Pride, is something I have seen among a lot of people I have known personally. In this state, people have a positive sense of accomplishment about themselves and the things associated with them, their job, the stuff they own, their community, their country etc. While Pride seems better compared to the lower levels like Apathy and Fear, it is still a block to development of self. Proud people find it difficult to accept any shortcomings. What is worse is, there is no way for them to know they are proud and their pride is holding them back. If someone tells them they have a problem, they become defensive and deny it. They feel attacked when someone genuinely tries to help them by bringing a shortcoming to their notice. They strongly believe they are the best and will not accept they need any improvements. No matter what evidence you give to them, it is never enough.
If you are from India, you might have heard the story of the monkey and the bird. The bird had built her nest during the summers while the monkeys were busy having fun. When the bird adviced them to build a house for the upcoming monsoons, they ignored her. Some made fun of her. Finally the monsoons came and it started raining heavily. The bird was sitting pretty inside her nest while the monkeys were perched on a branch close by. They were thoroughly drenched and bitter. The bird called out to the nearest one and reminded him of her advice earlier. ‘Had you listened to me, you wouldn’t be sitting like this today.’. The monkey got so mad that he took the bird’s nest and threw it to the ground, leaving the bird homeless too.
You cannot tell proud people there is something wrong with them. Your help is taken as an attack on their ‘self-respect’.
If you are yourself proud, you will act just like the monkey in this story.
How can you know you have pride?
Pride has some indicators. Proud people are very different from humble people. Humble people are very natural. They don’t feel uncomfortable in a new situation or with new people, in fact, such situations excite them. These people see such situations as door ways to new experiences and learning. They don’t have to prove themselves to anyone. They are confident, natural and positive.
1. Do you maintain a comfort zone? Do you feel awkward and insecure in a new, unknown environment? Do you keep seeking the company of the same people and always try to keep yourself in the same comfort zone? Do you avoid doing and learning new things, because you feel uncomfortable in the new setting? Your problem is worse if you try to mock or look down upon those who do try new things. This shows that you are jealous and insecure. Humble, confident and courageous people violate your law of security and you can’t stand that, you feel threatened.
If you find yourself very defensive, even with close acquaintances, if you feel attacked, hurt and angry when someone points out a flaw, you are proud.
2. Do you hate some people? Hate is denial of self. What you perceive about others is an indication of your own personality. This world has no meaning, no reality of it’s own. It is us who assign it meaning by projecting our ideas onto things, people and events. What you perceive about something can be totally different from what someone else might perceive. Hating someone is to deny your own perception, it is to deny what you actually feel, it is to deny yourself.
It follows that if you hate someone, you are in denial of your self, and denial is the sign of the proud.
You may hate those who are successful professionally and socially. You may attribute their success to their luck, looks, use of unscrupulous methods or their back ground, but it is just your pride holding you back from your own shortcomings. Your pride is holding you from being like them(which of course you won’t accept you want to be :)).
3. Do you blame fate for your problems? Is there a constant feeling of things going wrong? Do you keep feeling that all the bad just seems to happen only to you? If so, you can be sure you are in denial, denial of the blocks you have to greater success. You don’t want to acknowledge your own shortcomings and blame it on fate.
We create our own lives. All that is in it, good or bad, has been created by us. It was first conceived on the plane of our thought. It grew and gained physical form as we believed in it and continued imagining it in our minds. What ever you believe in, with faith, manifests itself. If you see some problem in your life and attribute it to fate, you are denying your role and responsibility in creating your life. You are being proud.
I think blaming fate can also be because of Apathy, a level lower than Pride. So this alone is not a fool proof indicator. But if it is coupled with the other factors mentioned here, you can be sure you have pride.
4. Do you have an external sense of identity? Look where your sense of self comes from. Does you profession give you a feeling of accomplishment and identity? Are you proud of your country, or your heritage? These are all signs of pride. You are deriving your sense of self and happiness from external things. This sense of self and accomplishment is based on a very weak base. If these external factors are knocked off or devalued, you are left with nothing to hold on to, and your subconscious knows it. So you have to defend this base with everything. This leaves a constant feeling of stress and fear in you.
Contrast this with those whose sense of accomplishment comes from within themselves. These people are not scared of loosing something. They know they, and only they, are in total control of their value, no one can knock it off or devalue it.
How do you remove Pride?
It is more or less reverting the above factors.
1. Get out of your comfort zone regularly. Do things you haven’t done before, get yourself into uncomfortable situations, with new people. This brings you into an emergency mode where you have no way but to focus on the moment to deliver. No one knows or cares who you are or where you come from. So your past doesn’t help you. When you focus on the moment, you cannot focus on the baggage of pride you have.
This might look like too much in the beginning but it gets better, easier and fun with time.
2. Accept total responsibility for yourself. Assume responsibility for your life and your feelings. If someone makes you uncomfortable, ask yourself why it is so. This person is a part of the reality you have created for yourself. You can change your reality. Understand that the problem is within you and seek it out. Remove it.
Same goes for situations. If you don’t like your present reality, you can change it. Stop blaming fate. That takes power out of you and hands it to fate. See how you can change yourself, your ideas and attitude, your beliefs, to change your reality.
3. Base your identity on your own value. Stop associating your worth and your happiness with external factors. You are not your family, or country, or your job. Look inwards for who you are. Don’t see what you have gotten from this world, see what value you are adding to this world. That is your identity. You are not your job title. If you are working as a software developer with a big firm, don’t define yourself as a Software Developer with X company, define yourself as the work you have done so far in that role.
You are a human and, as such, meant to improve and become better through conscious effort. There is no need to let arrogance and denial rob you of the opportunity to grow and expand. Let go of the false images.
Pride is like a strait jacket you put on yourself. It constricts you, prevents you from expanding out into your true self. It seems good compared to the lower levels of consciousness, like Fear and Apathy, but compared to the higher levels like Courage and Acceptance, it is weak and limiting. Get rid of it.