March 10, 2010


Photo credit: Dunno but do read the proud comments in this link; they are good for a laugh.

Pride in its shadow form is often called hubris. For all the fears that have a controlling influence on human behaviour, none is as potent as the fear of being humiliated, which is, of course, a matter of pride.

Most often, when people speak to me of a struggle with forgiveness, what they cannot forgive is having being humilated by someone. Pride can be positively defined as self-respect or dignity, but that hardly sums up what this power encompasses within the psyche.

Pride is our most vulnerable nerve ending, because it goes directly to our sense of purpose and identity, of having a place and a role in life. Pride is an energy that can feel as if it attaches you to your life’s purpose, and your life’s purpose is supposed to be kept uncontaminated. We fear shame and humiliation so profoundly that we will shame or humiliate others just to protect our own pride.

We will avoid trying anything daring, even if we would grow enormously through our efforts, for fear of being humiliated. Ironically, this reluctance to reach for something outside our comfort zone can make us feel shame about settling for “second best.” For all its innate power, then, we have difficulty learning how to manage pride, and it becomes lethal when wounded.

We learn to take pride in ourselves from our tribe, but we also encounter our first scars of humiliation from the tribe in early childhood. Consequently, pride in both its light and its shadow aspects is closely linked to the first chakra, which I call the “tribal” chakra. Traditionally, the first, or “root”, chakra is associated with the base of the spinal column, the part of the body that contacts the ground when seated in meditation. It represents what grounds us, and its corresponding element is earth. But I also see this chakra as connecting us to our family and the ethnic, social, religious, and class groups closest to us. Just as those groups can inculcate positive feelings of loyalty and self-respect, they can also create deep scars by imposing their various taboos and stigmas on us for behaviour that isn’t acceptable to them.

Those can be among our most painful scars and, consequently, the scars that can cause us to harm others. Pride is the cause of tribal warfare, of wounds of hatred passed down from generation to generation. In older cultures in parts of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, many ethnic vendettas have been carried on for so long that the participants don’t always remember the original injury. As individuals, we will destroy our own families out of pride. Few people can get this dark passion under control, and when hubris controls a person, it is like being possessed.

  • What are you capable of doing when your pride is injured?
  • How easily is your ego or pride offended?
  • Have you ever truly asked yourself why your pride is so fragile?
  • What does it take to get back in your “good graces” once your pride has been offended or you have been humiliated?
  • What pain have you caused others as a result of injured pride?
  • What have you learned about yourself through this dark passion?

(Excerpt Defy Gravity: Healing Beyond the Bounds of Reason, Caroline Myss, p.86)



  1. Some very deep and profound things about pride in this post. But hey, let’s talk about Crasher Squirrel! I love the passionate debate about whether he’s a squirrel or a gopher. The best comment was the one that said no, he’s a whale!

  2. I love the technical discussions about how the photo was taken sprinkled in amongst the passionate debate about the fuzzy butt. Oh, and the vet waving her qualifications..

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