Pride is often referred to as the universal sin. From the perspective of LDS theology, this seems pretty accurate; pride caused Satan to rebel against heaven, pride led to the downfall of ancient civilizations, pride is the driving factor that has caused evil individuals throughout history to come to power, and anyone who has studied the Book of Mormon has probably heard of the pride cycle. However, for this discussion, I’d like to move away from the archetypal, “big picture” idea of pride to focus on the perspective of it as an individual characteristic, that is, of personal pride.

It seems that certain patterns of pride are easy to identify. I think that one of the reasons that pride is so difficult to manage, however, is because it often appears in ways that are more subtle but just as damaging. In his well-known 1989 address, “Beware of Pride,” Ezra Taft Benson referred to this as the different facesof pride, some of which include tendencies to harbor a grudge, withhold forgiveness, or act contentiously with family members.

Identifying Humility and Pride

President Benson concludes his discourse by detailing how humility is the clear antidote to pride. This comes as no surprise; the opposite of a “me-centric” philosophy is one in which we realize there’s more to the world than ourselves, that we don’t know everything, and that we are not, in fact, better than anyone else. Pride is bad and humility is good. Sounds simple enough, right? Maybe not. Just as pride is multi-faceted and can come in disguise, humility is not always what it seems, and identifying the two can be tricky. It’s a topic that comes up frequently in therapy sessions. Here are some ways that pride falsely manifests itself while wearing the mask of humility:

1) Self-deprecation

I’ve worked with many clients who have a mistaken belief that having feelings of low self-worth is humility. When we put beat ourselves up or put ourselves down, we may think that we’re being humble, but the opposite is actually true. By excessively pointing out your own flaws and weaknesses and dismissing sincere compliments, you are essentially denying the divinity that exists within you. President Benson says the central feature of pride is enmity. Dismissing the divine gifts that you have been given could be an expression of enmity toward God.

I love what C.S Lewis said in his book Mere Christianity: “It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.” Avoiding pride means not putting ourselves above others, but it also means not putting ourselves below others.

Pride is in the comparison, the ranking. Comparison creates enmity toward others or toward yourself, depending on who ranks higher in comparison. Dieter F. Uchtdorf reiterated the words of Lewis when he said that “[w]e don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less aboutourselves” (emphasis added). Respect yourself as a child of God, and don’t mix up self-degradation with humility.

Read the full article at LDS Living.