Emotional Competency

Explore the Logic of Passion

Feeling good about yourself

We become proud when we have good reason to think of ourselves as special. Pride is the emotion reflecting an increase in stature, while shame reflects a decrease in stature. Because stature is often confused with status and is often considered competitive and relative, expressing our pride carelessly or unjustifiably may offend others.


  1. Feeling good about yourself.
  2. Satisfaction from our assessment of an increase in stature
  3. Approving of your own actions or accomplishments.
  4. A sense of accomplishment.
  5. Expression of competence.

Old English prūd, from Old French prou, prud, brave, virtuous.

Pride reflects an increase in stature, not necessarily a high level of stature. As a result, pride is inherently temporary.

Related Terms:

Many mental states are often confused with authentic pride. The confusion is generally related to a mismatch in a subjective appraisal or projection of stature with an objective evaluation of stature. The mismatches are based on discrepancies in the following assessments:

  • Authentic statureAn actual, authentic, and objective appraisal of stature based on representative evidence.
  • Self-esteemWhat you believe about your stature,
  • ImageWhat others believe about your stature.

We have many words that describe a variety of misalignments between authentic stature, your estimate of your own stature, and what others believe about your stature. These represent counterfeit forms of pride. Several words are defined here in terms of these stature appraisals.

  • Hubris: Unrealistically high self-esteem; self-esteem exceeds authentic stature. You appraise your stature to be unrealistically high and reject evidence-based comparisons to authentic stature. It is a failure to recognize your own defects. Synonyms include arrogance, conceit, egotism, narcissism, and vanity. It can be caused by your first-person viewpoint.
  • Bluster: Projecting your stature as higher than you believe it to be. Attempting to create an image that exceeds your self-esteem. Synonyms include false pride, immodesty, boasting, bragging, showing off, and know it all.
  • Stubborn Pride: You are unsure of your actual stature, so you hold fast to your position as an attempt to show strength. It can be manifest as a reluctance to apologize or take responsibility for your own actions. The likely cause is that your self-esteem is fragile or variable; you are insecure about your stature because you are not confident your authentic stature is high.  Synonyms include smug??,
  • Humiliation: An image change reflecting a decrease in what others believe about your stature. A public humiliation is the result of an insult and is generally painful enough to provoke anger. If you believe the insult is justified, then the humiliation may result in shame rather than anger.  Synonyms include losing face, feeling foolish, hurt, and disgraced.
  • Humility: A quiet and sincere confidence that comes from a realistic appraisal of your stature that recognizes you are doing well, while recognizing your shortcomings. It is an incentive to continue to learn, improve, and do more. Self esteem is aligned with authentic stature and is judged to be satisfactory and with room for improvement within a humble person. Humility reduces our need for self-justification and allows us to admit to and learn from our mistakes.
  • False Modesty: An insincere attempt to project an image of stature lower than your self esteem or authentic stature.
  • Contempt: Feeling superior to others. Our self-esteem exceeds the image we hold of another.

These terms and their relationship to stature appraisals are summarized in the following table:

Term Self Esteem - What I believe Image - What others believe
Hubris Unrealistically high
Bluster Unsure or low Unrealistically high
Stubborn Pride Unsure
Humiliation I deserve better Declining
Humility Realistic
False Modesty Unsure Unrealistically and disingenuously low
Contempt My self esteem exceeds my image of another.


Harmful mental states related to pride can be extinguished by appreciating the achievements of others, becoming aware of our own shortcomings, and working to increase our genuine stature.

Benefits and Dangers of Pride

Pride is an intrinsic reward for being good and doing well. It provides an incentive for working to increase stature. People seek challenges to increase pride. Because stature is so valuable, many counterfeit versions of pride have developed. These are discussed above.

The Paradox of Pride

Humility is essential for learning and learning is essential for continued personal growth. But pride is the result of that growth. Well adjusted people learn to move quickly and skillfully from pride to humility to continue their progress. Pride is considered one of the seven deadly sins, probably because of confusion with hubris, arrogance, vanity, narcissism, bluster, stubborn pride, or boasting. While we admire people with high stature, we dislike braggarts.

Display Rules

Display rules guide us in making the distinction between what we are feeling and what we are sharing. Most of us learn not to express pride too effusively when others may be offended or challenged by it, or if we are expected to remain humble.

Nonverbal Expressions

Beaming; a form of prolonged smiling, often expresses pride.

Primal Messages

Pride sends the primal messages of: pleased, dominant, strong, approach, helpful


  • “Wisdom manifests in humility rather than arrogance.” ~ Peter Senge


[laz] Passion and Reason: Making Sense of Our Emotions, by Richard S. Lazarus, Bernice N. Lazarus

[Ekm] Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life, by Paul Ekman

[OCC] The Cognitive Structure of Emotions, by Andrew Ortony, Gerald L. Clore, Allan Collins

[Gol] Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama, by Daniel Goleman

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Create Your Life, Your Relationships, and Your World in Harmony with Your Values, by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Arun Gandhi

Fear, Sadness, Anger, Joy, Surprise, Disgust, Contempt, Anger, Envy, Jealousy, Fright, Anxiety, Guilt, Shame, Relief, Hope, Sadness, Depression, Happiness, Pride, Love, Gratitude, Compassion, Aesthetic Experience, Joy, Distress, Happy-for, Sorry-for, Resentment, Gloating, Pride, Shame, Admiration, Reproach, Love, Hate, Hope, Fear, Satisfaction, Relief, Fears-confirmed, Disappointment, Gratification, Gratitude, Anger, Remorse, power, dominance, stature, relationships

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