You Are the Common Denominator in Every Problem You Have

October 2, 2015

In the last couple of weeks, I received two unrelated requests to re-publish a piece I wrote 2+ years ago regarding pride. 

So…here it is:

Pride is apparently difficult to define, as the dictionary offers three very different definitions for the word. It is a tough concept to grasp. On the one hand, pride can be a good thing. We want to take pride in our work – our daily work in the adult world or our schoolwork as a student. We want to take pride in ourselves – in how we look, how we behave, and how we carry ourselves as upright and moral human beings. When we take pride in our work and in ourselves it sends a positive message about us, our family, and our workplace or school. Definition number one tells us that pride is the pleasure taken in something that is believed to reflect favorably on oneself or others.

On the other hand, we see pride listed among the seven deadly sins. What’s up with that? Definition number two says that pride is an exaggerated sense of what is due to oneself. Looks like when trying to determine if pride is a good thing or a bad thing we need to ask ourselves, “Is my pride a sense of satisfaction or a sense of entitlement?” When it is the latter, it can lead to habitual finger-pointing. This type of pride tells me that I am right and nothing is my fault. I see it when I question a student about a pattern of inappropriate behavior. The cause of the misbehavior is another student, or a teacher, or a school policy. Rarely do I hear, “I accept responsibility for my actions.” I have seen it with struggling teachers who blame their struggles on this student, that parent, those unreasonable deadlines, or the poor communication of administration. I may hear it from parents who point fingers at others when their son or daughter receives a poor grade, doesn’t get enough playing time in basketball, or did not get the lead in the play.

Lest you think I consider myself exempt, I am equally guilty. When things go wrong, my knee jerk reaction is to look elsewhere for the cause. It is not until the quiet of reflective prayer, when I look into the mirror of reality, that I recognize the finger should be pointed at me. I heard Dr. Greg Sipes, from Indiana Health Group, make a presentation a couple of years ago. I think he captured the essence of this topic best when he imparted these words of wisdom: “The common denominator in every problem you have is you.

I found the dictionary’s third definition of pride very interesting, too: a group or community of lions.

You might be able to outrun or even tame one lion…a group of them (pride) may just tear you apart.


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