A few years ago, I caught portions of a television show about the life of C. S. Lewis, the much-admired and universally respected author of the nineteenth century. I learned from the hour-long documentary that Lewis believed the father of all sins is pride. This thought left me pondering the price of pride and how it affects our relationships, our emotional health, and even our pocketbooks.
I've run into pride frequently as I've helped individuals and their families heal from destructive patterns. Pride, in its negative form, produces arrogance, stubbornness, criticism, denial, a need to be right, an inability to take responsibility for personal wrongs, and a sense of superiority.
People who are prideful are often abusive, and they tend to struggle in their relationships. They are rarely able to see the truth about people and situations, and they usually don't clearly understand what's happening in the lives of others because their inflated egos keep them focused on self. People who have this type of pride tend to blame others, deny their part in problematic situations, and attempt to improperly control situations and people. They also resist personal growth. And many times they feel like victims. They can be competitive (in an unhealthy way), jealous, selfish, and ungrateful.
Interestingly, those who suffer with pride are usually people who struggle deep down with their own sense of value--though they will never admit that upfront! Typically, prideful men and women are terrified of taking responsibility, growing, loving, or understanding others because deep down they fear they are worthless, wrong, incapable, and/or unlovable.
A wise counselor and teacher of mine once explained pride to me in a very compassionate way while recounting the struggles of a client we were both supporting. He drew a small stick figure in the center of a white sheet of paper and said, "This is a little boy who feels worthless, sad, and out of control." (Our client was once an abandoned child.) Then he drew a large circle around the stick figure and said, "This is the inflated ego of the little boy and he's using his ego and pride to hide and compensate for his deep feelings of worthlessness."
We all struggle with feelings of worthlessness at different times in our lives. Therefore, we are all potential victims of pride. We can heal our prideful hearts and overcome the negative responses pride produces when we are willing to see the truth, know our fears, face them, and transcend them by coming to know our individual worth.
The paradox I've noticed in therapy is that prideful people believe their pride protects them and gets them what they want in life--they think it's a behavior that works! Interestingly, almost always, it is pride that costs us what we want most. Whether our deepest desires are more money, better relationships, improved health, more friends, relief from addiction, or a better job, pride is almost always the thorn that prevents us from obtaining our hopes and dreams. I'm sure that is why Lewis called it the father of all sins.
Oregano is a very powerful essential oil that can relieve pain and infection. It can get through to individuals who are stubborn and hold tightly to an unhealthy belief system. It’s strong medicinal properties work similarly to prescription antibiotics. Metaphorically, oregano works similarly on our emotional system, fighting convincingly for the body’s sound emotional health by eliminating unwanted thoughts and patterns. Oregano makes a strong statement to let go of toxic attachments, bad relationships, and sabotaging habits, thus making it easier to move forward in life.
For this week's personal development, consider how pride may be affecting your life. Ask yourself how pride may be preventing you from getting what you want most? Take a further look inside to see if there's a child within you who needs to feel loved, valued, and validated. If so, give yourself the gift of love and choose your eternal part--own that you are important, lovable, worthwhile and valuable to God. And allow yourself to grow in that positive place. Also, remember that we often tend to easily spot pride in others. As with any effective course of healing, seek first to resolve the errors within yourself before pointing them out in the ones you love.
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