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  • Writer's pictureHelen @ Paloma Counselling

Pride. A deadly sin?

I was reading through some notes the other day that I took from an excellent training session with Jo from Well Within Reach. The notes reminded me that the one of the best biochemicals for neutralising stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin is activated by feelings of pride. When I shared this news with my peers it sparked some debate. Isn't pride one of the deadly sins? An excessive belief in one's own abilities?

I thought I'd research further, and in doing so found another article by Jonathan Cawte a Sports Scientist. Called 'Hack the Biology of Leadership, 2 hormones dictate your success' he writes: "it's serotonin that creates that surge of pride that you experience when you receive an award. The people in the crowd that have supported you also experience the same feelings of pride at the same time. This is what serotonin is trying to do — create the bond between team member and leader, child and parent, player and coach. The great teams want to do it for the coach, to make them feel proud. The lesser teams are chasing dopamine and are focused on the championship ring or monetary reward."

In Cawte's eyes, that shared sense of achieving a goal for others as well as ourselves is what drives success. Individualistic pride, resulting in a more self-interested outcome and possibly a less successful leader/team.

For me, pride is a very important emotion, and like all emotions exists on a spectrum of purpose. I believe that healthy pride is not necessary but essential! It not only generates serotonin but it also drives human connection! A good feeling for all parties involved! As Sznycer states, "pride creates the win win not the sin!"

This led to me googling 'healthy pride' and returning articles which labelled this 'authentic pride' with benefits of increased social support, lower anxiety and a greater desire to help others by the sharing of knowledge and expertise. This is the antithesis of 'hubristic pride' which has greater flavours of anxiety, competence and control.

So, why does pride have such bad press? It seems that for some, pride is considered only in its hubristic form, but let's not forget it's hugely powerful benefits in its authentic form! If we feel dejection and disappointment when we don't reach the target we are aiming for, it stands to reason that we feel pride when we do!

Like with all things, it's more helpful for pride to be viewed for all that it is, not just one of two opposing dimensions!

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