Pride, on the other hand, is generally defined as a feeling of self-respect and personal worth or the feeling of satisfaction with one’s own (or another’s) achievements. Most would agree that pride is a vital part of an individual’s sense of self and an important component of healthy, positive self-esteem.In my work as a psychotherapist, I often find myself helping clients make the distinctions discussed above. As children, most of us have probably been taught, for better or worse, how not to boast or brag, since this is an unattractive or off-putting behavior. “Don’t be too big for your britches,” or “keep that up and you’ll get a swelled head," are among the admonitions many of us remember from the past.
The problem is that our parents may not have understood the difference between boastfulness and expressions of healthy pride. This may explain why I so often hear qualifiers or apologetic preambles like: “I’m really doing very well at my new job! I don’t want you to think I’m bragging, or anything.” Or, “please don’t hear this the wrong way, but I’m really proud of my raise and promotion.” Another client recently told me that she won a prestigious award in her industry but had not shared it with anyone but me because, “I don’t want anyone to think that I’m one of those braggarts with a head too big for my hat!”
It sometimes appears that the long-standing and well-cultivated internal restrictions against healthy, normal pride need to be dismantled and replaced. There are certainly ways to express personal or professional pleasure of satisfaction without having to worry about being perceived as a “show-off,” “braggart” or “crowing” like a rooster and strutting around the farm! “I’m really pleased with my raise and promotion, and I wanted to share it with you,” seems a reasonable way to convey satisfaction and pride. It is not “boastful” since it is not designed to claim the high ground or superiority to another. It is simply designed to express good feelings about one’s accomplishment.
We should all have a way to express our healthy satisfaction in our own accomplishments. Healthy pride can certainly be distinguished from boastfulness or bragging. We should never deny ourselves the right to “toot our own horn” when, in fact, that is exactly what we are entitled to do.