The Dangers of Pride in Recovery

Right to be Proud of Recovery

When people give up an addiction they have a great deal to feel proud about. They have just managed to escape a condition that had been ruining their life and could easily have lead to their death. If the individual puts enough effort into their sobriety they will have many more things to feel proud about in the future. Feelings of pride can be one of the rewards of recovery, but care needs to be taken that this emotion doesn’t become excessive. Some people can become so full of pride that it stops them from making any further gains in sobriety. They start to believe that they already have all the answers and may start to view other people as a bit inferior. The individual has every right to be proud of their accomplishments but they should never allow this pride to become a liability.

Pride Defined

The word pride can have negative as well as positive connotations. It can be defined as an inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, merit, superiority, or importance. It can also be used in a positive way to mean a sense of satisfied attachment to some work or achievement. Pride is a contentious emotion that has been described as a sin by religion or as a virtue by some philosophers such as Aristotle. In the modern world it is generally agreed that excessive pride can be a dangerous thing. Pride is not always related to personal accomplishments or characteristics. People can feel proud of their country or their favorite football team.

Pride and the Addictive Personality

The addictive personality is a set of attributes that is often associated with addiction. Not every addict will have all the characteristic of the addictive personality but they are likely to have at least some of them. Most of those people who fall into substance abuse will have problems with self-esteem. The individual may react to this by putting on a show of excessive pride – this is sometimes referred to as bluster. The addict develops an amazing capability to be lying in the gutter yet still looking down on everyone else.

Pride and Self-Esteem

If people are excessive proud it is referred to as hubris. This generally means that their self-esteem is unrealistically high. The individual overestimates their importance in the world, and may look upon other people as inferior to them. Even those individuals who generally suffer from low self-esteem can exhibit excessive pride in an attempt to hide their true feelings. Most people who have fallen into addiction will also suffer from low self-esteem. They can regain their feelings of self-worth once they are sober and able to rebuild their life. A healthy level of self-esteem for people in recovery is for it to be high but realistic and tempered with humility.

Benefits of Pride in Recovery

It is doubtful that humans would have progressed so far without feelings of pride. The benefits of this emotion include:

* It is a reward for a job well done. Getting sober and building a new life is a wonderful accomplishment and people have every right to feel proud of this.
* It encourages people to work hard.
* It encourages people to seek out challenging experiences so that they can experience a sense of accomplishment afterwards.
* It can help people more like a member of a team if they have pride in their collective accomplishments. The pride of a team can give it the strength to achieve something really remarkable.
* Having pride in the accomplishment of other people can be a source of happiness for the individual.

The Dangers of Pride in Recovery

Pride can be detrimental for people because:

* The individual can feel so proud that they refuse to acknowledge their own mistakes. If people refuse to acknowledge their own mistakes they will become stuck in their recovery and possibly relapse.
* Hubris is an unattractive personality trait. It can make it difficult for the individual to make friends or form romantic relationships.
* If the individual is struggling in their recovery they may feel too proud to ask for help. This means that they will not have to tools they need to stay sober.
* If people have an unrealistic sense of pride it is likely to mean that they have lost touch with reality. In order to get the most from sobriety the individual needs to face life on life’s terms.
* In order to gain new knowledge the individual may need to put aside some of their preconceived ideas and beliefs. If they are excessively proud they may struggle to do this.
* Most spiritual paths require that the individual let go of at least some of their pride. Those who have an excessively high opinion of themselves will struggle to make progress on a spiritual path or could even become completely deluded.

The Benefits of Humility in Recovery

Humility can be highly beneficial for people in recovery. To be emotionally sober the individual needs to have a healthy mix of pride and humility. The benefits of being humble include:

* If people have humility they have no fears about admitting that they do not know something. This makes it much easier for them to learn and develop.
* The individual who shows a bit of humility is far less likely to experience conflicts in their life. Excessively proud people always rub others up the wrong way.
* Being humble means having a beginner’s mind. This means that the individual does not allow their current opinions and beliefs to get in the way of new learning.
* If people are humble they are more able to help others in need. Doing some type of service is a wonderful way to strengthen sobriety.
* If people are humble they will have fewer qualms about asking for help when they are struggling in recovery. This means that they will be less likely to relapse.
* Those individuals who have a bit of humility should find it much easier to make new friends.
* Those who are following a spiritual path will find that humility is a wonderful asset for this.

How to Avoid the Dangers of Excessive Pride in Recovery

There are things that the individual can do to avoid the dangers of excessive pride including:

* Developing a beginner’s mind. This means that the individual is always willing to learn new things.
* Developing humility is a great way to temper pride.
* Learning to think critically will encourage the individual to challenge their own ideas about themselves.
* The individual should avoid taking themselves too seriously.
* Spending time helping other people can be a great antidote to excessive pride but only if the individual is humble about it.
* Mindfulness meditation can allow people to become more objective about their own thoughts and behavior.
* Those who are following a spiritual path should find that this reduces their feelings of excessive pride.

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