Break up with boyfriend number three went something like this.
Him: I’ve been thinking and when I get back we should talk. I haven’t really been happy.
Me: (to myself- “Are you bleeping kidding me? You just left for Chicago today and are there for over a week. You want me to wait a week to talk about you being unhappy? You want me to wait a week to potentially heartbroken? You’re crazy!!!”) Don’t bother.
Him: What? (His voice increased 8 octaves.)
Me: Don’t bother. There’s no need to talk when you get back.
As I talked to a few friends, males and females, no one gave me any slack for the way I handled things. The consensus: “You should have waited until he got back.” No one wanted to hear my side. However, to be honest, I could have handled it differently. I didn’t have to go straight into battle-0f-the-egos mode. I didn’t have to deliver an unexpected blow (the screech in his voice made me even prouder of my coolly delivered line) that would ensure I won the battle.
Typically, when we let our pride get the best of us it’s usually a result of an underlying feeling like fear, anxiety, or shame. I really liked this guy (although the way I ended things suggests otherwise) and the thought of having to wait to figure out if he still felt the same way about me, or liked me enough to figure out if I was a part of his unhappiness or a few unexpected things that had come up with work lately (I failed to mention that detail earlier) felt unbearable. I felt like I had failed and that I was bound to be rejected and dumped. There was just no way could I tell my friends, many of whom though he was a great catch, that he broke up with me. So, in order to curb my own fear of being broken up with and rejected, enduring the return of my own insecurity of not being pretty enough (as a child I prayed to be pretty, that’s how unpretty I felt) I ended it first.
No confetti fell from the sky. I didn’t get a trophy to adorn my mantle for initiating the break up. It was a shallow victory for a battle that in retrospect didn’t exist.
That’s the thing about pride. It is the giver of shallow victories over battles that our own fears, anxieties, and insecurities disguise as real battles or issues. Pride robs us of real victories over opportunities seized, chances taken, issues addressed, life experienced.
So, how do you experience victories over real battles (i.e. applying for that job across country, applying for grad school, negotiating a salary increase, etc.)? You let go of your pride. You recognize pride as a mask for other feelings you should take the time to address.
What are some of the feelings that like to masquerade as pride?
- Low self esteem
What are some of the experiences that lead to those feelings?
- An absent caregiver
- Hostile or unhealthy professional/personal environments
- Unhealthy relationships ( past or present, romantic or otherwise)
- History of abuse/assault
- Traumatic experiences
- Unfinished business (i.e. relationships or experiences that did not end well but you never processed)
What does the mask of pride look like?
- Overspending and living above ones means
- Consistently minimizing the work and worth of others to esteem your own work and worth
- Refusing to ask for or seek help
- Having oodles of acquaintances to happy hour or salsa dance with but no real friends
- Ignoring reason, good advice, or being told “No” from people you know have your personal/professional interest at heart
- having to have the last word
How do you remove the mask?
- Be honest with yourself about the root of the pride (i.e. Being made fun of as a kid for being overweight and fear of still being made fun of although you’re at a healthy adult weight).
- Ask for help. Whether it’s a close friend or a professional, once you realize whatever the experience is that has left some of the aforementioned common feelings, ask for help in resolving those issues. Friends can be helpful as you start taking off the mask, however I recommend a professional for helping you adjust to all that pretty your pride was hiding.
I don’t know if reining in my pride, fear or insecurity would have salvaged our relationship. However I do l know it would have kept me hidden from the beauty of other relationships I have since been able to enjoy.