Over and over again, women tell me that they want to feel proud of their life and work. And yet, so many women are hesitant to share what they are proud of for fear of looking like they are bragging or showing hubris (excessive pride).
I see pride as an untapped resource for feeling energized and galvanized into more socially valuable action. We need to change our relationship to pride so that we can access this valuable resource. Pride, when combined with humility, is the feeling we get when we have achieved something socially valuable. As an AWAL, or aspiring AWAL, I am going to assume that achieving something socially valuable is important to you – that this is a given.
One of my favourite authors, Barbara Fredrickson, in Positivity, describes pride powerfully and helpfully. It’s a positive emotion, along with emotions such as love, joy, hope, awe, interest, inspiration, amusement, serenity, and gratitude. It’s evil cousins are shame and guilt. Fredrickson says that, when specific and tempered with humility, pride is clearly a positive emotion:
“Pride blooms in the wake of an achievement you can take credit for. You invested your effort and skills and succeeded. It’s that good feeling you get when you put the finishing touches on a home improvement project…Or when you achieve something in school or at work: aced a test, won a race, made a sale or published your ideas. Or when you recognize that you made a difference to someone else, through your help, kindness or guidance.”
This, to me, is the key part: “We sense at a deep level that our actions will be valued by others. That is what makes pride a self-conscious emotion. Unless you’re sociopath, you’re acutely aware of how your actions- good and bad – can be perceived by others.”
When you feel proud, you want to share your achievements with others. You may notice that when you feel proud, you feel expansive in terms of your aspirations – you tap into a desire to achieve more and greater things. Fredrickson cites “well-controlled laboratory experiments” which show that when people feel pride, they are more likely to persist on difficult tasks.
So the key takeaway here is that pride, along with a dose of humility, is a positive emotion that makes you feel expansive. Feeling pride is a good sign – it is an indication that you have done something socially valuable.
I wonder, what would it be like if more of us shared more widely what we had done that we were proud of? I bet we would inspire others with our feelings of expansiveness and desire to achieve more meaningful accomplishments. Hmm…let’s test this out right now!
I will go first – I will tell you about something I am proud of and why, attempting to temper it with appropriate humility.
I am proud of stepping into leadership and offering a workshop last month for women who want to be agents of social change at work. I perceived, from the reactions of the women in attendance, that they valued the experience. The success of this workshop made me feel expansive and energized and led to me to quickly follow it with another successful workshop on International Women’s Day.
I am well aware that the success of these workshops had so much to do with the remarkable women in attendance and also to do with the transformational principles that I have been learning through an amazing course I have been taking in Transformational Facilitation led by Claire Zammit of Feminine Power. I am frankly in awe (another positive emotion!) of what is possible when a circle of women meet for a couple of hours using these principles. It makes me feel hopeful (another positive emotion) for our future as humankind.
The energy of pride (combined with the excitement of awe and also love) is helping me to be more courageous. I am feeling enough courage to step up to do my part in trying to make the world a better place by encouraging more women to step into their version of leadership. So, there – I hope by sharing this you are inspired and not turned off!…that I have tempered my pride with the appropriate amount of humility. How did I do?
Now over to you… What makes you proud?
And what has pride inspired you to do next?
Please share! We need you!