Pride causes a lot of pain. As soon as we feel that we deserve to be treated a certain way, we get hot under the collar. We stamp and shout about how we want to be treated better. We get angry. We get demanding. Social relationships suffer.
One of the problems with pride, is that it, in effect, insists that others give us a particular social status. Anything lower, and we become impatient, and feel de-prioritised.
Imagine a proud person who is born into an average world, but in a past life she has been a queen. She may stamp and shout, but others will simply treat her just like everyone else, with no special privileges… She will get more and more upset, and others will avoid her more and more.
Now imagine a humble person who has been born into an average world. It does not matter what this person has or has not been. She does not expect to be given any special privileges. She has no reason to have her pride upset, and others are likely to accept her presence.
Perhaps the greatest combination of attitudes, is to have high standards for oneself, but to be happy with the lowest status among peers. In terms of mental health, this can be very protective. Having high self-standards can provide constant focus , and prevent an individual getting lost in anger about other people’s standards of behaviour. And being happy with the lowest status saves a lot of energy. It means that no effort needs to be expended protecting the false bias of self-importance.
Today, can I see myself as the careful servant of all?
When I’m stuck behind people in queues, can I slow down, and settle in? When I’m ignored, can I let go of my demanding nature?
When things go wrong, can I ask myself what I can do to improve my behaviour? When people take things from me, can I accept that gracefully? When people take my possessions, can I let them go without worry? When people take my time, can I patiently attend to them without getting distracted?
Am I frustrating myself by requiring a lot from those around me? Or am I staying healthy by setting high standards for myself?
Am I using up a lot of energy protecting a sense of self-importance? Or am I staying healthy by accepting the lowest status?
I certainly do not have to be a door mat for other people. I can speak out where others’ behaviour is hurting themselves, or me, unnecessarily. But the best use of my cognitive focus is what I do next; and the happiest social position is to expect little, and to be happy with whatever is.