Monday, 21 May 2012

Is pride a problem?

How often is being proud seen in a negative light? We are cautioned that pride comes before a fall...

Pride can come across as arrogance. Or if you are proud of something you can come across as boastful.

As adults do we know how to be proud for the right reasons, and exercise humility while enjoying success? And how on earth do we help our children get to grips with these social complexities? Being proud of yourself as a seven-year-old is to be encouraged as a boost to self-esteem but at the end of the day you need to keep your friends on side!

The ballet exam results came back the other day and P was pleased with her Merit award. The teacher was not pleased - not because she was not happy with the girls - indeed she thought they had been marked harshly and were worthy of Distinction. However for P, it was a slight improvement in marks from her Primary exam and although essentially all the girls in her class got around the same, P was actually the highest marked of her group.

So we've had plenty of conversations about how good Merit is, well done. Yes, you can take your certificate into school and tell the whole class. Yes, let's ring the grandparents and tell them the good news. Feel good about it. By the way, don't go on about it too much as your friends will think you are showing off and may feel a teeny bit jealous.

She's a sensitive kid and seems to have got the balance between being proud of herself whilst not bragging about right this time. And that in turn makes me proud of her.

Actually, I've been thinking about pride in general of late. When we are young we just want to grow up, gain new experiences and either fit in or stand out - mostly depending on whether you are an introvert or extrovert. But as you get a bit further into adulthood then perhaps you have the luxury of thinking more about your choices, or at least reflecting on your work, home, family, community. Or perhaps it is not a 'luxury' but some shift in circumstance that has undermined something you previously took for granted. Or you panic that time is running away with you.

A little less than a year ago I decided I would like to do some fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support, which quickly grew - with some post-treatment energy and enthusiasm - from a coffee morning and a fitness challenge of some kind into a year's worth of activity. The motivation was not specifically to do something I could be proud of, but I've realised as I've got into it, that this is a welcome bi-product. Now I'm starting to think that being proud of what you do is very much a valid motivation to underpin future choices. I'd like to do things I can be proud of, and that the girls will be proud of when they get older. "That was the year that mum cycled 40km for Macmillan, that was the year mum wrote her first novel..."

Well, a first novel is not on the cards. Yet. (Maybe a children's book by Christmas? Now there's a challenge). However, the sponsored cycle is ticked off and over the next couple of weeks I hope to get the hospital gift bags idea properly off the ground so watch this space for details.

I hope you'll agree with me that it is OK for everyone who is doing something to raise money for charity to feel a bit proud of themselves - even putting an olympic torch on ebay! - and so a wee bit proud I'll be. And while I'm about it: a big congratulations to all those ladies who have just completed a Race for Life.
My fundraising year (which does not include running) continues...

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