Don’t Be Proud of Me!

Memory Monday

Last week DJMatticus was blogging about pride a little bit–if and when it’s ever appropriate and stuff. I don’t really want to get into that at this point, but I do want to explore this memory I have about pride. When I was a very very young child, if anyone ever expressed pleasure or approbation over something I had done, I  would cry out in consternation,

“Don’t be proud of me! Don’t be proud of me!”

It's okay, little monkey . . .

It’s okay, little monkey . . .

I still remember this sort of queasy, panicked feeling I would get in those moments, and maybe I even sometimes still get it–less noticeably–because every once in a while one of my parents (usually Dad) will say it to me, which must mean I’m providing some sort of (possibly) more grown up exhibition of the same discomfort with other people’s approval.

The weird thing is, I struggle with codependency, which is, as far as I experience it anyway, more or less an addiction to other people’s approval.

I’m still trying to figure out what fueled this anxiety. As a much older child (or maybe a very young adult) I remember having a sort of epiphany that pride is at the root of all sin, and  still think that (maybe with some qualification–but maybe not), but I’m pretty sure that as a two- or three-year-old I wasn’t thinking in those terms. I know I had a sense of God, and maybe somewhere, somehow, I had picked up some sense that pride was wrong. Maybe I viscerally supposed that if other people were proud of me and I just accepted it, I would become proud of me, too, and that would be Bad.

Or maybe I thought if I did something well the first time and people were proud of me, they would be disappointed when I failed to do it as well the next time. I’ve definitely had a lifelong habit of trying (not always successfully) to keep my own and everyone else’s expectations low, to minimise disappointment. The downside of this practice is that it also minimises genuine enjoyment of anything if you keep holding your breath, waiting for whatever it is to go horribly horribly wrong. Sometimes that mindset also provides the catalyst for things to go horribly horribly wrong.

Or maybe (and this, I suspect, is nearest the truth) it was some sort of hybrid of these two anxieties, where I desperately wanted the approval but was terrified of how much I wanted it.

Or maybe I just didn’t like being the centre of attention. Maybe I was embarrassed–I used to embarrass easily. There’s probably something to that, too. I’ve always wanted everyone to know who I was, but not to have to do anything about it.

Sometimes being human is just a conundrum. Or is it just me? What do you feel internally conflicted about? Or–if you’d like to keep your own neuroses off some random chick’s blog, you could analyse mine, I guess . . .


21 thoughts on “Don’t Be Proud of Me!

  1. If you don’t throw your coffee mug in the general direction of me, I once quizzed a reputed psychologist about the ‘approval’ thing (I too have a problem with it). He said I could be reversing the order of cause and effect. Have you read Robert Browning’s dramatic monologues?

    • You would think I would have done, or at least read some of it, but I don’t recall such reading.

      What did the psychologist mean in this case by reversing the order of cause and effect?

      • That, approval is the reason we do things -approval being the cause and the outcome of our deeds the effect. There is this highly quoted line from one of our epics (popularly known as Geeta)

        Karmanyevadhikaraste ma faleshu kadachana.

        “Your rights extend to the point of your deeds, but never on their fruits.”

        Sorry to be dumping theology again!

  2. I think that feeling has to do with fearing that one won’t be able to meet the expectations of others a second time. It raises the bar, so to speak, and hence, creates stress.

  3. Being human is definitely a conundrum… I’ve posted several times about the hypocrisy that is me. We want to succeed, we want approval from our peers, and yet we don’t necessarily want that recognition at the same time. I bet it does have something to do with mitigating expectations so we don’t disappoint anyone if we can’t maintain a certain level of performance going forward.

  4. It could have been inherited from your Great Grandmother who prided herself on never being “proud”. She would say “I’m happy for you.” She told me she was never “Proud” of her children. I thought it was profound when I was a college student cause she was in her 90’s and all old people are wise.. But, after I had kids I decided to be proud of them even if it’s a

  5. I suppose your own post nailed it. Sometimes you don’t want people to be proud of you because you’re afraid they’re setting themselves up for disappointment. You’re afraid you will fail them.

    That said, pride is certainly an inherent human trait, it springs from our ego or identity. I do not mean it in the negative Christian SIN kind of way. Pride is a good thing, that’s where we get our self-worth from. Without our ego we would only exist as automatons. We would all be, feel and think the same.

    But excessive pride, hubris, arrogace, denigrating and looking down on others, well, that’s what naughty people do and they should be spanked real hard for that!

  6. I love that you reblogged yourself to talk about pride issues 🙂 Tell me, apart from Jesus who doesn’t have pride issues? I talk about this a lot because I am definitely one who thrives on people paying attention to me but at the same time wanting it to be because they wanted to and not because I had something to do with it… I will say that spanking is Not the kind of attention I’m seeking 😉

    • Gah! What is happening to the content of my blog??


      Thanks for pointing out my inherent hypocrisy: reblogging myself to talk about pride issues! (That is pretty funny, isn’t it?) It’s just info that you need to have in your mind when I get to where I’m going with this week’s posts.

  7. I suggest that in order to save yourself embarrassment, you should not “reblog” but only copy your old post and paste it in the new blog. And, to relieve your conscience, you can put a note at the bottom of the post–in tiny small print– saying it’s a reblog.

    Remember, ethical deception is an art that all honest people ought to learn. *wink wink*

  8. I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the
    layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize
    it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to see a great blog like this one today.

    • Umm . . . not sure if you’re a real person, but in the event that you are,

      Thank you!




      It’s not a paid theme. I customised it with a photo of my own bookshelf.

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