Pride is one the least noticed emotions that the Ego uses over us. Many people are aware of the expression of pride that comes from boastful behavior, or self-righteousness. But, one part of pride that alludes most people is the hidden pride of understating oneself.
By the age of 13, I was very shy, and what many would call a wallflower. I had very little self-confidence. That low confidence stayed with me until I became aware of it through my personal development process. One of the ways in which pride ruled me was through reinforcing my low-self confidence. It is a subtle influence, but one that is very common. It usually comes in the form of how we react to a complement from another person.
Imagine that someone has given you the compliment that they like what you are wearing. How do you react? Do you say nothing? Do you downplay your appearance? Do you emphasize something else that you like about yourself instead? All of these reactions are the hidden side of pride, a pride in one’s own low self image. I know it might sound strange that someone could be prideful of a low self image, but this is precisely the paradoxical thinking that the Ego plays into.
Because a common teaching in spirituality is to practice humility, (to not to be boastful or bragging), many assume that downplaying oneself equates humility. This is not true. Humility is not downplaying your own role in something, instead humility is about accepting your part in with an inner knowing. (Not doing it for external reasons)
Next time someone pays you a compliment or says job well done. Simply try to say, “Thank you.” See how you feel when you say those words. Do you feel bad about yourself? Do you feel like you need to pay a complement back? Do you feel uncomfortable? Do you feel like you need to defer this complement to someone else? All of these are are subtle ways in which hidden pride reveals itself. Each one showing you that you are not truly accepting your role in what took place. Humility comes in simplicity, the simplicity of accepting yourself, your role in what has happened, but without feeling that swell of confidence. Humility knows that you did not do the action for the compliment, but it also knows that to pretend you did nothing is just as prideful as bragging about it.
Pride is not only trying to elicit a compliment, but also not being able to accept one. Humility comes from the acceptance that you were a part of the equation to make it happen. When you do not accept your role in completing or participating in something, it is the result of this hidden pride attached to low self-confidence.