Day 150: Ownership, Investment, Expected Returns – the Capitalist in Me

In re-reading the blogs I wrote on the Prideful Character, there is one aspect that has surfaced several times that I haven’t explicitly opened up – and that is the point of ownership. It came up in the blog ‘Day 146: The Credit is Mine!’ as well as in my last blog ‘Day149: I don’t need no-one’s help’ where I mentioned feeling that I did not ‘own’ the correction to a point if someone assisted me to see it.

An example of the role of ownership within the Prideful Character would be where I was ‘in charge’ of a certain project for a while, and then at some point needed to hand it over to someone else. I would experience major resistance, because I would feel like it was ‘my point’ that I didn’t want to give up. So – where is the self-interest within such scenarios? Because, obviously, in those moments it was necessary to re-arrange responsibilities for the effective running of the larger group – so if I within myself fight such a change, then it is due to points of self-interest.

The Prideful Character, as has become clear, runs on the need for praise and validation – so that self may ‘feel’ valuable/worthy/good enough. So, what I would do in relation to the Prideful Character when I was assigned a task – I would define myself according to that task – feeling that ‘I am now responsible’ or if I would do the task well, I would give myself ‘positive scoring points’ based on that task/project. So, the projects would become a source of praise and validation that I would give myself – thinking that – others must see me that way as well. So – when asked to hand over the project, I would experience resistance in that I felt I would be losing this source of ‘value’ – but what’s more – I would feel annoyed thinking that, ‘now I will have to spend my time creating a different project that will give me a sense of value’ lol.

And that’s an interesting point – where I felt I had invested my time/effort into a project and so didn’t want to give it up – because, hey, I finally feel satisfied about my ‘performance’ in how I am handling this project, I am finally feeling good about myself in terms of this project and so I feel I am deriving ‘value’ from it – lol, in other words – my investment is finally starting to pay off and now you want me to hand it over?!?

All of the above runs in the background of course, on a conscious level I would just experience that sense of ‘ownership’ towards the project – where I would feel it’s ‘my project’ and then the resistance in not wanting to hand it over.

The reason I find this point to be so interesting is that during my economy studies there was one point that I just didn’t understand or couldn’t grasp in ‘how it would make sense to base an economic system on that principle’ - and that was the point of ‘the capitalist’ and the principle that those who own something get to earn profits from it – because, well, to own it they invested a lot of money in it, so now they should earn returns on it in the form of profits. Somehow this point evaded me – who came up with this logic?? Because once you own something, you’re not doing anything per se, you’re just ‘busy owning something’ – yet that would give you the right to an income through profits.

And here I am, lol, throughout my life living out this exact same logic without even realizing it – where it would only become apparent when I was asked to hand over my project to someone else, as I’d then throw a hissy fit inside myself – and even then it was not always clear ‘why’ exactly this was bothering me. Yet here it is, the capitalist in me, clinging to that which I have invested my time, my effort, myself in – because I was deriving a continuous flow of ‘earnings’ from it as a sense of value. It wasn’t even the project in itself that I didn’t want to ‘lose’ – it was the ‘returns’ that I expected to receive if I continued to ‘own’ that project.

It’s fascinating that in anything we do – we’re not working with the inherent value of that which we’re busy with, acknowledging and honoring the inherent value of contributing time and effort towards a particular project because we see how it assists others, how it makes a difference – no, we’ll only acknowledge the imaginary value we assign to ourselves for participating in that project – making it about ‘how good a person I am’, ‘how good I feel about myself’. And in the same way – we won’t recognize our own inherent value – we feel the need to ‘derive’ it from something or someone else – the need to ‘own’ something so that IT may GIVE me value.

It is quite saddening to realize that we had to create such consequence on a global level for the outer reality to reflect and show us just one point: that we never accepted ourselves, that we never appreciated ourselves and that we never honored ourselves as life, as the only real value.
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Day 149: I Don't Need No-One's Help

Intertwined within the whole Prideful Character exists the refusal to ask for help.

In previous blogs I discussed how the prideful character within me originated from a self-definition as ‘someone who is good/successful at anything’ – and how this gave rise to a fear or making mistakes or not being good enough. So, asking for help has been a tough point for me to learn – because I perceived asking for help as admitting failure, believing that: if I can’t do the task on my own, then I am in some way not good enough, ‘not up to the task’ –and now I have to ‘degrade’ myself to asking another for help.

This perception started in the class room. The teacher would explain something , we would do some of the exercises together, and then we’d have to do it on our own. I believed that – after the teacher had explained everything and after we had done exercises on our own – I ‘should’ be able to get it. And I mostly did. Those that asked for help, I saw as the ‘dumb kids’ – and I always pitied them and felt sorry for them that they NEEDED to ask for help – that they were so incapable or inadequate within understanding and processing the information that they couldn’t apply it for themselves in exercises and had to put up their hand in embarrassment and ask the teacher for help once more. I always felt lucky that I was spared from that experience.

Of course, outside of the classroom – when it’s not merely about learning information, someone showing you exactly what the rules are that need to be applied and then applying it – I ran into many moments that I actually ‘didn’t know what to do’ or where I had an idea of what I was supposed to do but I had no rulebook to fall back on or a script to follow. I didn’t realize that – yes, when you’re working with information that strictly follows certain rules and you’re actually working with ‘copy/pasting’ a certain format of resolution unto certain information – then sure, if you understand the rules and the conditions under which to apply them – then you simply do it for yourself. But most problem-solving in ‘real life’, outside of the class room, outside of maths, outside of grammar, outside of physics or chemistry – doesn’t follow such strict rules and doesn’t first hand me a formula to apply. I didn’t see the difference between the two – all I saw was: I have to get a project done or I have to master something or I have to direct a certain situation: and I find I am unable to do it!!! AAAAAAAAAAH!!!! What’s wrong with me!!!! I SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO THIS!!! Lolol.

Fascinatingly, instead of simply admitting that: well, I don’t know what to do – let me ask someone else who might be able to assist me – I would just muddle on in all stubbornness – regardless of how ineffective I was and regardless of how long it was taking me to make any progress at all. I felt that – at least if I don’t ask for help, then I’m not officially stupid or inadequate – then I might ‘suddenly’ understand it, then I might find in my memory some piece of information that will be the key and all will be well in the end and I’ll see that I could do it on my own all along, it just took me a little longer.

I made many things unnecessarily hard for me this way. Also within my process for instance, if I didn’t see how I had created a certain experience for myself or if I was unable to make a decision – rather than speaking to someone about it and asking for their perspective, I would just try to ‘find the point on my own’, while in the meantime still sitting with the same experience or accumulating anxieties and doubts for not being able to make a decisionthinking that, if I ask for someone’s assistance, then I’m not the one walking my process, then even if I’m the one opening up the point further in writing and self-forgiveness and self-correction – I would think I didn’t ‘own’ that point of correction – because I wasn’t the one to see the point for myself.

Lol – it would feel like cheating and looking in the back of the book for the answer to the question I wasn’t able to resolve on my own. Again – a point I created in school where I made it quite a point not to go and look for the answers in the back of the book until I had an answer of my own – then it was okay to go and check if I had the right answer. But to go to the back of the book to see the answer while I didn’t have an inkling of how to solve the problem, no, that to me was totally unacceptable – that was cheating and dishonest. Lol – quite a morality point I created around ‘honesty’ here. But that’s in essence how I perceived asking for assistance – that I was cheating and that I was taking a short-cut. Those answers that I would go look up at the back of the book – because, yes, sometimes I was so stuck and desperate that I would go peak – after reading the answer I could suddenly see how they got to the answer and I would be able to work it out for myself in how to get to that answer – but those exercises didn’t ‘count’ then – because I had ‘cheated’.

So, a word of advice would be to look at your perceptions around ‘asking for assistance’ – specifically look at your childhood/schooling years – and to remove these associations, judgments and beliefs. If you have a look: it simply is a matter of fact that through defining ourselves through certain ideas, views, beliefs, opinions, personalities, etc – we have limited ourselves in being able to assess information for what it is and directing it effectively. If we each stick to trying to do everything on our own – it’s going to take forever to find solutions and walk them into correction, because in order to see information for what it is, we have to be able to also identify the lenses through which we view information – but if we have accepted those lenses as ‘normal’, then how can we see that they are lenses? Fortunately, each one has lived a different life, with different parents, with different upbringing, with different experiences – and so in asking another for perspective, they might be able to see something that we hadn’t considered on our own, because the particular lens we were looking through, the particular glasses we were wearing didn’t allow us to see that point.

So, in working together, asking for support and others’ perspectives and suggestions, we have the greatest chance at walking this process most effectively and formulating solutions most effectively – because in the end, it’s not about where some piece of information/some suggestions came from – it’s about putting all the pieces of information together, to see the whole picture and then directing it in terms of what is best for all. In the end, information is information, it cannot really be ‘owned’ – information is here – it doesn’t belong to anyone .
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Day 148: Let's Stop Playing the Game of Thrones

For context, please read my previous blog-posts:
Day 146: The Credit is Mine!
Day 147: A Memory, a Trigger Word

In the post ‘Day 146 – The Credit is Mine!’ I saw how the prideful character is like a queen on a throne requiring subjects to come and ‘bow for the queen’ – where the bowing stands representative of others giving ‘positive feedback’ as ‘praise’. In my last post – ‘Day 147:A Memory, a Trigger Word’ I explained how I realized the word ‘queen’ exists as a polarized word within myself – having both positive and negative charges. I used a Memory to show how – when this word was used by someone to describe me – I experienced a flood of reactions as the word ‘struck’ to the heart of who I was living as within myself as the prideful character.

I had a look then at my relationship to the word ‘queen’ and I could immediately see several Disney movies and fairytales that had influenced my understanding and definition of this word. When watching the movies and reading/hearing the stories – I would admire the character of the ‘kindhearted’ princess (who will become a kindhearted queen) and I would fear the character of the ‘evil queen’ that usually plays some part in the stories as well – be it as an actual queen, or as an evil stepmother, as an evil fairy, etc. – they all embody the same character of a spiteful woman in an authoritative position.

As I moved through the story, I would identify with the kindhearted princess – because that’s who I would want to be and how I would want to be seen by others. I’m sure this is the case for most girls – I haven’t heard any girl saying she ‘liked’ the evil queen characters more than the princess characters. But fascinatingly, when having that picture of the ‘kind princess’ who is loved and revered by all who are fortunate enough to know her, in front of self as what self would like to live and experience in this world – then disappointment comes soon enough, because – guess what: people don’t love and revere someone just for who they are. In my experience, it was grades, success and good performance that got me praise – not ‘me being myself’.

And in so desperately attempting to hold on to that picture, that ideal, that feeling of being praised, of being a princess, a kindhearted queen – I split myself – because it was only on the outside, in how I presented myself towards others that I would play this character – trying to be the ‘good girl’ – but within myself, a fear and anxiety grew that turned into an obsession – because what if this praise stops or what if others stop seeing me in a good light, it would feel as though I am losing myself – so in the background, within myself, hidden from sight – would develop a different character – the prideful character – the exact character that I would fear when watching the Disney movies or when hearing fairy tales: the evil queen.

It’s interesting when looking at it, that in the Disney movies – they tend to cut the story line before the princess actually becomes a queen – or just after – you assume that the kind princess remains true to her ‘kind nature’ – but we don’t actually know, they don’t show you – what kind of queen does the kindhearted princess become? Perhaps the truth of the matter is seen as too shocking for children – what if the children would see that the kindhearted princess becomes the evil queen over time – what if they could see that the good queen and the evil queen are but two sides of the same coin? For that matter – what kind of a princess was the evil queen before she was an evil queen? Isn’t that what the movie Maleficent has contributed in showing?

Children have a degree of innocence and ‘good intentions’ when they are young and we like to believe when we grow up that we are doing good, that we are living up to those good intentions and that we are ‘doing the best we can’ – but who are we truly? Who are we within? Who are we when others leave the room and our backchat about them flourishes? When we scheme and plot to surpass and outshine others? When we throw tantrums for not being praised? When we judge other out of sheer jealousy? We’re all wanting to be kings and queens – good ones on the outside, but evil on the inside – how about we stop trying to be kings and queens? How about we learn to appreciate ourselves and support ourselves to live by principles that are best for all – and do the same for others? Do away with fear, do away with hiding, do away with manipulation and deception – is that not what we all would truly want?

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Day 147: A Memory, a Trigger Word

In my previous post - Day 146: The Credit is Mine! - I said that as I was writing, I had a memory come up. So, if you haven’t yet – I suggest reading the previous post first.

The memory that came up was quite a ‘significant one’ – meaning: a memory that I have been working with for quite some time or that has come up several times in my process and each time there are different points revealed from/of it. And so, here again, lol.

This memory stands in relation to my relationship with a particular person that I was not on good terms with. I experienced this person as judgmental, unfair and brutal. Needless to say that over time, I accumulated a vast amount of reactions and resentment towards this particular person, but I would never voice them – I would brood and curse in silence and complain about the person to others. Now, within this memory – I was having a discussion with my mother and we were not agreeing on something. This other person was present as well and at some point started shouting and ranting at me – I cannot remember all that was said – but one particular point I remember very clearly – these were the words that triggered my reactions to ‘shoot through the roof’, smash the plate I was holding onto the kitchen floor, shout that I’ve had enough at the top of my lungs and get into a huge fight.

Now – those particular words that were said that triggered my reactions to go through the roof – I had always remembered them, but I hadn’t placed any importance on why I was remembering these words or even why these words had such an impact in terms of the intensity of my reactions increasing so extensively. The words were ‘you think you’re the queen and everyone must just bow for you’ – lol. So, in writing my previous blog about how I experience the prideful character as being a queen on a throne within myself and any time someone gives ‘praise’ it is like a person bowing before the queen and how this relationship to praise had become like an addiction within myself – in ‘needing people to praise me’ – I could suddenly why these words that were spoken in that moment would have such a big impact – because they were striking at the heart of the prideful character that I had become, lived and embodied totally and completely by that age.

It is fascinating – every time I would remember these words I would think ‘that just shows how little this person knew and understood me, if that’s how they see me – a queen who wants everyone to bow for her’ – because on a conscious level and how I would interact with people on a conscious level, I did not at all see myself this way, let alone want to be seen this way – but on a deeper level, these words summarized a very large aspect of who I was accepting and allowing myself to be and exist as.

Herein – I remember very clearly how the word ‘queen’ within what he said, was the one word in relation to which I allowed a flood of reactions to surge up inside me – showing that this is a word that is polarized within and as me – holding both positive and negative charges.

So, I’ll write a bit more on the polarization of the word ‘queen’ in my next post.
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Day 146: The Credit is Mine!

In my recent blogs I’ve been exploring the Prideful Character – for more perspective read:

Day 141: Pride – The Root of All Sin?
Day 142: Pride and Perfection
Day 143: Pride – Prize versus Hide
Day 144: It doesn’t matter what you say, I already decided I won’t listen to you
Day 145: Maleficent – Pride and Regret

Another aspect of the Prideful Character is wanting to get credit for ‘doing something good’.

Examples are for instance:

  • Sharing an idea with someone and then another person sharing that idea with a group where the group then perceives that the person who shared the idea with the group is the one who came up with the idea and people are then congratulating that person – and now self reacts – because ‘that was MY Idea!’, ‘the credit should go to ME!’.
  • When working in a group on a project or to achieve a certain goal and as the group is moving towards or reaching success in its goals, self is convinced that it is because of one’s own contribution that there is success – for at one point raising an idea, or for carrying out a specific task – as though self is the one to which all the credit for the success belongs – when actually, there was a whole group involved.

This point stems again from one’s relationship to praise – where, if one has created a relationship to praise in a way where one believes one ‘doesn’t exist’ if one isn’t being praised – then any and all situations in which self would expect a possibility of praise – will be grasped at and if the praise does not come – there is a tantrum – because self perceives having a right to the praise.

It’s fascinating, because there’s a point of desperation within this point – similar to an addict desperately needing a ‘fix’ to feel okay, to feel at peace – as though one is time and time again building and walking into this intensifying experience of anxiety and instability – as though, if someone doesn’t give some praise soon – one’s foundation will be pulled from under self – because ‘who am I if I’m not being praised?’.

Lol, when I look at the prideful character, it’s truly like seeing a queen on a throne within one’s mind – and within sitting on the throne – hands on the arm-rests of the chair – eyes straight ahead– there is an experience of absolute stability – but it’s not in fact stability – it’s an experience of control. But! The queen can only be queen if it has subjects that recognize her as the queen – and if no one has come by in a while to bow at the queen – then who is the queen a queen of? What does it mean to be a queen if there is no one bowing before the queen??

And this ‘bowing before the queen’ is in the form of receiving praise from others – when praise is given – which is not necessarily praise from the point of the person giving, but how it is perceived by the prideful character; for instance, it could just be a point of cross-reference and a person agreeing, or it can be someone encouraging what self is busy with – but in the eyes of the prideful character, any and all feedback that is not ‘negative’, is ‘positive’ and is ‘praise’ – as though someone is actually bowing before self – before the queen – and now the queen’s legitimacy is restored and can ‘rest assured’ on the throne for a while again – experiencing that point of ‘apparent stability’ which is in fact control – in being able to suppress the actual anxieties and fears underneath the surface by placing ‘praise’ on the forefront.

I’ll continue with this point in my next post, because as I’m writing I have a memory coming up that I’m starting to see in a new light, in new understanding – so will share that in my next post!
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Day 145: Maleficent – Pride and Regret

This blog-post is a continuation to:

Day 141: Pride - The Root of All Sin?
Day 142: Pride and Perfection
Day 143: Pride – Prize versus Hide
Day 144: It doesn't matter what you say, I already decided I won't listen to you

Maleficent is the name of the evil fairy in Sleeping Beauty and also the name of the new Disney movie where this classic fairy tale is told from Maleficent’s point of view. Without going into a debate about whether it’s a good movie or not or whether it is cool or not that the story was told from the villain’s point of view – I found the movie depicting the point of Pride quite nicely so will use it as a reference from that perspective.

In the story, Maleficent starts out as an ‘innocent’ fairy. She’s revered by the other creatures in her domain for her large wings, her expression, her devotion. At some point, she is ‘betrayed’ by a friend, a human, that she had trusted with access to ‘fairyland’ to call it that – I don’t recall the exact terms. In any case, her human friend cuts off her wings to bring them to his dying king so that he may ascend to the throne after the king’s death. When she realized the ‘betrayal’, she decided to take revenge and destroy what is most precious to him – his daughter.

In that moment, it seemed like the right thing to do – she felt justified in her decision of avenging her loss and betrayal. As the child grows up on the country-side under the stewardship of the ‘three good fairies’ – Maleficent keeps an eye on her and on occasion steps in to make sure the child is not harmed. As the child grows older, her and Maleficent start to develop a relationship – the child thinking/believing that Maleficent is her fairy godmother. It becomes clear how Maleficent starts to see the child in a different light – no longer just ‘the most precious possession of my enemy and therefore my target for destruction’ – but a child in her own right, with her own expression, her own life. More and more you can see the doubt in Maleficent in terms of the decision she had made and the curse she had placed on the girl, Sleeping Beauty. But she wipes away the doubt and the regret, because ‘she made that decision and in that moment, she felt so right and righteous about it, she cannot, she won’t, reconsider it. Then of course, she will only admit her mistake when it is too late and the curse takes effect.

Another way in which the prideful character is so nicely depicted in Maleficent is her total disregard for everything and everyone around her. Whereas she used to care and nurture, she starts to poison and harm – in the movie, she literally casts a ‘dark cloud’ over her land and ‘sucks the joy’ out of everything around her. The only thing on her mind is her revenge, her path, her point of view – nothing else matters – everything can be sacrificed for her self-interest. And anyone who tries to point it out to her is shut down.

Oh, how far we are willing to go to protect our self-interest. Would it not be easier to admit the mistake? To take a step back and see the consequences one is busy creating, for oneself and for everyone else involved? To see that: okay, I am experiencing some very strong emotions here and I reaaaaaallly want to stick with my point of view – but that is all it is: my point of view – am I really choosing the optimum path here? Is this really a solution? Whom does this benefit, whom does this harm?

In the movie, of course, all magically ends well, but we all know how, in real life, when our mistakes catch up with us, we don’t just get a ‘happily ever after’ handed to us – the consequences are already created and now have to be faced and walked through. Is our pride really worth it? Superimposing an experience over reality, superimposing ourselves over others – to what end? To eventually have to realize the same thing: 'crap, I made a mistake'.
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Day 144: It doesn't matter what you say, I already decided I won't listen to you

I ended off in my previous post with saying how I started internalizing ‘pats on the back’ – in that, if I felt I had done something well, I would ‘congratulate myself’ and ‘feel proud about myself’ in relation to what I’d done. As well as the other side of trying to hide the mistakes I made, not only from others, but from myself as well.

Now, where I find the Prideful Character to be most apparent is in moments where someone makes a suggestion to me or points out that something I did could have been done differently. How I experience my reactions in such moments it that there is a sudden jolt of anxiety in my solar plexus area, as though the anxiety is coming from all over my body and centers in the solar plexus. And, you know, how anxiety is experienced like a ‘current’ – like a wild river suddenly rushing in – well, with the anxiety centering in my solar plexus, I first experience it as that fast moving energy, but only for a split second – and then it’s like I harden it into a rock. Like – if you’d have molten lava, and pour icy water of it and then it turns to hard rock. So, in those moments, there is first anxiety, which I then immediately transmute into that hardness/toughness, which you can call stubbornness, arrogance, righteousness. And then, from within that experience, I reply with justifications.

Now, this reaction pattern moves very fast and very automated. I had previously looked at the point, but there was a dimension I was missing. In opening up the Prideful character, I saw a new dimension. I had already seen the point of taking it personally, the fear of making mistakes, the self-judgment and the polarization from inferiority to superiority – but there is a specific dynamic that I had overlooked. And that dynamic is that – the action for which a person is giving me suggestions/comments/criticism – I had already congratulated myself on that, I had already classified it as a good thing or the right thing to do, and from there, given myself a pat on the back for doing that – and then, of course, I felt proud about myself. So, afterwards, in someone suggesting I could/should have done it differently – I’d feel I have to ‘give back’ that ‘pat on the back’ that I gave myself – and… well… I didn’t want to – lol. In slowing down the experience, there’s a thought of ‘no, no, no! I already made myself feel proud over that decision/action, I already validated myself through that – no, I don’t want to reconsider that at all!’

And of course, herein I am completely limiting myself – because all I want to do is stick to my opinion, the perception I had of myself in the past in terms of what I did and what I considered within making that decision/performing that action. I am unwilling to re-evaluate myself – let alone take responsibility for my mistakes.

If I allow myself to stick to that stance within myself, of righteousness, stubbornness, arrogance – then we get to that ‘other meaning’ of the word ‘pride’ – where a person takes on a stance of superiority to justify what self is doing, in spite of what is common sense or best for all. And so we’ve come full circle in the base design of ‘Pride’ and how it starts off seemingly innocent - ‘just a pat on the back’, but dependent on one’s relationship with these gestures – one can develop pride in the sense of arrogance, righteousness, spitefulness, self-centeredness and total disregard for others – which, fascinatingly, are characteristics described to whom? To female villains! Have a look at the evil queen in Snow White, the evil witch in Sleeping Beauty, the evil step mother in Cinderella – each of them are the Characterization of PRIDE – look at the stance, look at the facial expressions, look at the obsessions – they are all expressions of pride.

I’ll continue in my next post by using the movie ‘Maleficent’ as a reference of the play-out of the pattern of pride, as it is quite clearly depicted there.
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Day 143: Pride – Prize versus Hide

So, my relationship with pride was one of polarity. On the one hand there was this desire of being acknowledged, validated, appreciated, encouraged and admired. And within the belief that the only thing ‘adults’ liked and appreciated me for were my ‘performance levels’ – I started defining myself/my value entirely in terms of people being proud of me and me being proud of myself. So, that energy of pride became a ‘necessity’ – if there was no pride, either from others or from myself, then how did I matter?
On the other hand – any miss-step, any mistake, or the possibility of a mistake became huge fears, and these were parts of myself I would try to hide at all cost.
So, on the one side I was trying to be visible/seen/noticed, but on the other I was hiding and isolating myself.

So – within this Pride Character I found myself participating in two ‘opposing’ forces – an outward one and an inward one. And, interestingly, in looking at the word ‘Pride’ – it reflects this duality. Within the sound of the word ‘Pride’ one can see the words ‘prize’ and ‘hide’. ‘Prize’ in terms of winning, being the best, getting to be on the stage an in the spotlights. ‘Hide’ then of course, the opposite of wanting to hide in the shadows and not allow people to see one’s mistakes/failures or even the fact that one is capable of making mistakes or fail.

This dynamic started playing out within myself as well – meaning – I would start giving myself pats on the back when I thought I did something well and I would hide my mistakes from myself – trying to convince myself that I was innocent in the matter or any other forms of self-manipulation consisting of excuses and justifications so I wouldn’t need to admit and face up to my mistakes.

I’ll continue in my next post.
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Day 142: Pride and Perfection

This blog-post is a continuation to the post 'Day 141: Pride - The Root of All Sin?', please read it for context.

In my previous post, I mentioned how I connected pride to ‘being proud’ when having accomplished something, where when I had done something ‘well’, I was placed in the limelight for a moment as a congratulation on my success.

Within my childhood, these moments were frequent. It started when I was in my ‘3rd toddler class’ – the year before first grade. In that year, my brother had started to teach me how to read. I’m not entirely sure how it started, but I think I was just fascinated by the things he was learning since he was 4 years older than me and I probably asked him to teach me how to read, or he just proposed to teach me. So, when we had time, he would teach me how to read letters and I started learning to read one-syllable words. In third toddler class, you mostly just play all day, but I started sitting with a piece of paper and try to write words. I would practice the ones that Gabriel, my brother, had taught me and I would try new ones on my own. I asked my teacher to check it once and she asked how it is I knew how to read and write, so I told her my brother had taught me some. One day she gathered the whole class and together we went to the first grade class. She said ‘I have something to show everyone! Maite here can read already! You don’t have to believe me, I’ll show you’. They had a train with letters and she started taking pieces of the train to form words, I was anxious, because, well, I only knew so many words, so I was hoping she wouldn’t make a word I didn’t know how to read. She made the word ‘sun’ and asked me to read it. I was relieved, I knew that one, so I said ‘sun’. Then she did a few others, and I knew them all. Everyone clapped and I felt a bit awkward. For one, because I wasn’t sure why they were making a big deal out of it – I just had an interest and did it for myself, I enjoyed it. Second, because I couldn’t REALLY read, I only knew one-syllable words and not even all of them, so I felt like a fraud.

From then on, I created a reputation of being ‘smart’. For my first graded report in 1st grade, I had the maximum marks on all tests and so had 100% on my report. That day, I had taken a ride with my friend to ballet class and my mom had gone to pick up my report, so I didn’t know what it said. When I came home from ballet class, I found my mother in tears. I thought ‘oh no, was it that bad!’ Then she came and she hugged and kissed me and I still didn’t understand what was happening. My brother came and showed me the report and said: ‘you have 100%!’ I looked at the report, and it showed all the tests and the marks, which were all the maximum ad then the ‘sum’ of 100% at the bottom. I thought, well, yes, I knew all the answers, so it makes sense, no? Again I didn’t understand why it was such a big deal, because I just did what they told me to do and answered the questions on the tests. I understood everything, so I could answer everything. But it seemed, from how they were behaving, that this wasn’t normal. I wasn’t sure why they were proud of me, because I didn’t ‘do’ anything special, I just ‘did it’.

And it continued like that mostly throughout my school years, I didn’t have any problems with anything really. When I got to 4th grade, my mom started becoming worried about me. I’m not sure why, but she thought I was changing and she thought I must be bored in school. She asked me if I was and I said ‘maybe, I suppose’. She asked the principal if it would be possible for me to skip a year and I did. I struggled initially when I was trying to catch up with the material from the year before on my own time, but by Christmas I had gone back to top of the class grades.

In anything else I did outside school, I seemed to be ‘naturally’ proficient as well. Whether it was drawing school, ballet, music, flute – I was always in the ‘top of the class’ and each time I was told I was ‘gifted’.

So, within my childhood years, I had many moments where I was placed in the limelight, where people were ‘showing off’ with me or using me as an example to others. Although I enjoyed those moments, because they made me feel good about myself, at the same time I was not happy with the way people saw me and the expectations they had. I felt pressured to perform well in every area of my life. It started to think that people, and specifically adults, liked me only because I was ‘successful’, to call it that. Within this I started becoming more insecure and afraid about making mistakes, because if I wasn’t able to keep up ‘the good work’, then people might start rejecting me, or stop loving me.

Herein I specifically remember a situation in 2nd grade where we were learning the multiplication tables. We would do tests almost every week and then the teacher implemented a system where, after the test she would grade everyone and those with the highest grades would then play the multiplication game. Where, basically, we each started at the back of the class, lined up horizontally and the teacher would state a multiplication calculation and then the first one to should out the answer could take a step forward, the first one to reach the front of the class wins. I was usually part of these games, but I absolutely hated them due to the amount of anxiety and fear I would experience. I would be totally shaking inside and didn’t know how not to feel like that. I would start dreading these games to such an extent, that I decided to just do bad on my test. I felt it was a dilemma, because I was expected to be one of the ‘gamers’. Anyway, I thought the trade-off was worth it. So, I deliberately made mistakes on my test so I wouldn’t be part of those playing the game. And now, that time, of course, the teacher didn’t wait to grade the tests, but just called up the same people who always participate, to do the game. After the teacher had graded the paper, I saw her comment under my mark saying ‘!?!?’

What started happening within all of this is that I started trying to hide my mistakes for fear of letting people down. What people seemed to be expecting was perfection or near perfection, so that’s what I would try to project. ‘I don’t do mistakes’. But within myself I was the total opposite, I was anxious and insecure, and would go into absolute rage when I didn’t get something right.
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Day 141: Pride - The Root of All Sin?

When working with the tools introduced in SRA2 course of Desteni I Process, you’ll be pushed to see those aspects of yourself that you have lived out as yourself to such an extent that it is hard to identify them.

For me, the point that was revealed in this way was ‘Pride’. Someone had mentioned it to me before, that pride is one of my defining characters/characteristics – but I couldn’t relate to it AT ALL. Even when writing about it, what I was able to uncover was very superficial. It was only within using the tools I had learned in SRA2 and someone pointing at one sentence showing how that was a statement/expression of pride, that I could suddenly see it. It was literally as though I was blinded to that part of myself – but once it was shown to me how I lived pride in one specific moments, I could suddenly see it all over my writing, my behavior, my relationship with myself and others – like a veil lifting and for the first time meeting this part of myself – and then being astounded at seeing it to be one of the main characters I participate in and live out that in fact creates conflict and separation, but which I assumed was simply ‘a part of myself’ or that I had justified to such an extent that I couldn’t see it for what it was.

My understanding and ‘opinion’ of pride has always been that it is harmless. In Christianity, pride is one of the seven deadly sins – pride is even called ‘the root of all sin’. But why? What was so terrible about pride that it gained that status? For me, pride was about ‘being proud of myself’, especially when I had accomplished something successfully – then I’d be proud about what I had achieved and feel good about myself. What’s so bad about that? Others were proud of me when I had done something well, and would say ‘well done’ or ‘I’m proud of you, girl’. So, why shouldn’t I be proud of myself? Isn’t it *just* me congratulating myself, giving myself a pat on the back? Lol.

It seemed to be that pride was something desirable – it’s something I believed was how I was supposed to reward myself, in the same way I would be rewarded by parents and teachers whenever I had done something ‘right’ or ‘good’ or ‘well’ – then you get to be placed in the limelight, on a pedestal for a moment – with everyone admiring and congratulating you for what you’ve done. It was so much part of my world that I never questioned it, let alone regard it as ‘the root of all sin’.

But there is another ‘meaning’ of pride that is referred to when talking about pride as a sin. In that context, it seems to be more about a person being self-centered and looking down on others – where pride stands in the way of cooperation and communication, of working together to find solutions that are best for all.

So, in my blogs to come I’ll be exploring the dimensions of how I have existed and Pride and what the relationship is between pride in the two meanings of the word as I introduced in this blog.
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