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I’m Not Who I Think I Am…

Photo Credit: Creative Commons – Mo Westein 1

I have this embarrassing problem that I need to share.

It’s not halitosis, bromhidrosis or even osmosis (that last one doesn’t really make sense but I was running out of “osis” words).

My problem is that I tend to think that I’m something I’m not.

In other words, I’m prone to pride.

For example, I tend to think I’m smarter, kinder, more spiritual and funnier than I actually am [EdiTOR’s note: that last example is the toughest one for me to personally believe.]

It seems that I simply like myself too much to think I’m anything less than God’s gift to writing – I mean I even named my blog after myself, what’s up with that?

While my thoughts of myself are much higher than they ought to be I’m not alone in that regard.

In his book How We Know What Isn’t So, Cornell University psychology  professor Thomas Gilovich writes about how we are all prone to seeking self-serving beliefs and filtering data to support our existing perspectives.

Gilovich conducted a nationwide survey of more than a million high school seniors regarding their personal perceptions of themselves and here are some of the surprising results:

  • 100% thought they were “above average” in their ability to get along and socialize with others (even the bullies);
  • 70% thought they were “above average” regarding their individual leadership skills – only 2% described themselves as being “below average” in leadership ability (classic example of too many generals and not enough soldiers…);
  • And as far as academic ranking, 60% thought they were in the top 10% of all survey participants and 25% thought they were in the top 1% (apparently these students haven’t been tracking U.S. academic performance compared with global counterparts).

Interestingly, Gilovich then went on to survey college professors and found that 94% of those instructors surveyed described themselves as “doing a better-than-average job” – speaking from firsthand experience, I can attest that 94% of my college professors were NOT above average.

Self esteem is fine and necessary for success, but that’s not the degree of pride that I’m referring to nor Gilovich’s research bears out.

We seem to be a bunch of self-absorbed braggarts, preening peacocks and self-proclaiming blowhards – I’m chief among them.

Thankfully, I have three kids and a loving wife who are able to knock me down a couple of pegs when I get too unbearable to live with.

I’m also having to remind myself of the following scripture.

…Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Romans 12:3

That’s good, practical advice but it’s a constant daily battle for me to fight the flaw that I don’t think I have any flaws.

Question: Has pride ever caused you to stumble in your home life or work life?

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  1. Yes, and God always has a way of humbling me every time I put myself up there on that pedestal. I am nothing without Him. Again, one of my favorite quotes comes to mind “You might think you have a good plan…but you don’t have a universe!”

  2. Great post, Tor! We are all prone to pride, and must die daily. The late, great C.S. Lewis said it thus “It the man who believes himself to not be conceited at all who is the most conceited of all.”

    ” Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.” I find a good way to do this is to get honest with my story, and leave my reputation to Him.

  3. Pride? Who me? I’m not proud. Never!!! NOT ME. Oh wait………..

  4. Proof that grade inflation is WAY ore pervasive than one would think!!!! Seriously, though, I wonder where he obtained his million high school students- perhaps they were all from Academic honor societies. I say that because I know many of my son’s and daughters’ peers- many of whom would never claim to be in the top 10% (they would, however, assert to be in top 50% or even 40%).

  5. I think you’re trying to say we’re not all above average. If we were that would make a new average and just push me up that much further. I jest, I jest. I have thought myself “better than.” Many times in the mission field it’s easy to be prideful coming from the “1st” world. Then I say something in my second language completely asinine and get ridiculed and corrected by a 5 yo and remember I’m just another guy.

  6. Hi. I’m here to rock the boat.

    “self-absorbed braggarts, preening peacocks and self-proclaiming blowhards”
    To be honest with you, I know very few people who are self-absorbed braggarts, preening peacocks and self-proclaiming blowhards, although that’s some nice alliteration there in the peacocks phrase.
    I used to share your viewpoint, that I was prideful and thought too much of myself. Quick, I’d say, remind me that I’m not all that! You know what that did for me?
    Nothing. As a matter of fact, it kept me focused on making sure I stayed focused on not being prideful.
    You know what it did for everyone else?
    Ever read this quote by Marianne Williamson?
    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
    Our deepest fear in that we are powerful beyond measure.
    It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.
    We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
    Actually, who are you not to be?You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the World.
    There is nothing enlightening about shrinking
    so that other people won’t feel unsure around you.
    We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
    It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
    As we let our own Light shine,
    we consciously give other people permission to do the same.
    As we are liberated from our own fear,our presence automatically liberates others.”

    I want to live my life shining the Light that is within me.

    Jumping out of the rocking boat now to swim like a fish across the bay.

  7. My experience of being prideful turns out to be more subtle and deadly for me and my loved ones, at least. It’s that I think that what I think is true IS the way things really are – whether I think I suck or I think I’m great isn’t really the point as much as whether I’m able to see “wow, have I EVER been way wrong about this!”

    I keep falling back on the description of Moses as “the meekest man who ever lived” – and that God got pretty ticked at him for, at the site of the burning bush, insisting on not being good enough at this or that or the other thing. Paying attention to whether or not I’m being humble just makes me think more about…me. Deadsville.

    Tor, using a doctor’s research on high school students to generalize to all is a little, well, general, doncha think? I have three HS students in my immediate family, and they are the LAST people I would think of having a grip on reality. Of course I love them anyway, and know they will find the truth or lies by experience, no matter what I say.

    Finally, I’m going to guess that you’re an extrovert. Lots of us introverts are prideful every bit as much as anyone else, in our thinking we’re not good enough. Either way it isn’t having a realistic perspective of ourselves, based on the gift of faith given us.

  8. It’s such a tough line to walk, isn’t it? Keep the pride under control,
    but know you were born with a purpose and created in His image. Often feels
    like a catch-22 to me. Don’t be prideful, don’t boast. But we’ve
    been gifted with amazing, diverse talents and can be a positive influence in the
    lives of as many as we’re willing to reach and touch in so many different ways.

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