“Have you ever watched a baby learning to walk? He totters, arms stretched out to balance himself. He wobbles – and falls, perhaps bumps his nose. Then he puts the palms of his little hands flat on the floor, hikes his rear end up, looks around to see if anybody is watching him. If nobody is, usually he doesn’t bother to cry, just precariously balances himself – and tries again. Well, the baby can teach us. What you’ve undertaken…isn’t a state of perfection to be arrived at all of the sudden. It’s a WALK, and a walk isn’t static but ever-changing. We Friends say that all discouragement is from an evil source and can only end in more evil. Wallowing in self-condemnation or feeling sorry for yourself is worse than falling on your face in the first place. . . So thee is human.”
― Catherine Marshall, Christy
I teach children as young as seven months old how to swim and survive water accidents. I have learned a lot from teaching these children. I particularly cherish the lessons they’ve taught me about pride: how it’s built, how it helps, and how it hinders growth.
Babies don’t know much about pride. When learning something new babies know about: comfort and discomfort; frustration and curiosity; trial and error; success and failure; happiness, anger, and fear too. Pride is not a big part of the equation, yet. This is why they succeed at learning so many new things, at the same time, so quickly. At the youngest age it’s parental and teacher reaction to a baby’s efforts and results that teaches a child about pride, or it’s counterpart shame.
Pride is a double edged sword. It can push us to great heights and it can save us from ruin. Or, it can inflate our ego and make us believe we are indestructible, irrefutable and irreproachable.
As we are building the foundation of our success, if we’re not watchful, pride can turn into a stumbling block. Pride can blind the path forward with confusion, by convincing us that all success equals righteousness, every failure equals shame, discomfort is bad, and frustration will always hurt or never end, and standing alone means you’re doing it wrong.
Life can be uncomfortable and unfair at the same time you are doing the right thing at the right time –it’s ok for it to be that way.
I know an elementary school principal who keeps a sign in her office that says: “If you’re not squirming, you’re not learning.”
So, do what you love. Listen to others. Think about what you hear. Or, just think about your own stuff. Try some of it, maybe. Learn what you can. Use what works for you. Leave what doesn’t. When others try to hurt you let it slide past –it’s not about you, it’s about them. Cheer for yourself and cheer for others too, even when things are going poorly, because we’re all out there working and learning, that actually means something!
And don’t take any of it too seriously, just breathe deep and keep trying.