Respect, Modesty & Pride or I Have Been Schooled By My Eleven Year Old

At 10:30 this morning, I received a text from my son who is at his dad’s acreage for their family reunion. He was just checking in and after some light conversation, I texted, “Hey. Any ideas on what I should blog about today?” His response:

Respect and modesty and how pride can be your downfall – Matt

My boy. So smart. Challenge accepted. This post is dedicated to him.

First, I really think it’s important that we really dissect the word respect. Respect, by definition means: esteem; consideration; regard; good wishes; reference, relation. To feel or show esteem or regard to; to treat considerately. I feel that sums it up nicely. So, if that’s what respect means, why do so many “demand” respect? We often say things like, “I demand respect!” or “Show some respect!” Many people feel that they deserve it simply because they are the boss, parent, older sibling. I can’t begin to tell you how many students I have come across that think that fear is respect. For example, when mediating between 2 quarrelling students, the word RESPECT came up almost every time. I began to ask the participating students what the word meant to them. In those situations, they almost always came up with FEAR. Fear does not mean respect. It means “afraid of” – more specifically, it means an unpleasant feeling excited by danger, pain, etc. A cause of fear; anxiety; deep reverence. Many people who demand respect or try to “get” it by making someone afraid, aren’t going to “get” it. Furthermore, I feel that because you are the boss, you aren’t going to “get” respect simply because you are the boss. I really think that in order to be respected, someone has to give it to you. It isn’t something that you can “get” at the store in a cute little package. It is something to be received. In order to receive something, it has to be given. And in this day and age, we don’t get something unless we earn it. Therefore, according to how my brain works, Respect is something that we must earn. How do we earn it? By being amazing people with integrity, honesty, love, and by giving our respect to everyone. I challenge you to make this pledge with me.

I will give my esteem, consideration, regard, and good wishes to all those I meet. I will show esteem and regard and treat them considerately. Even if they are mean to me. I will not tolerate any disrespect though, because I respect myself!

Now, let us continue with Modesty. Having a humble opinion of oneself. Hmm. Humble opinion. Humble means to have a low estimation of one’s abilities; unpretentious; servile. To lower in rank; to humiliate. That does not sound very fun. To humiliate? To have a low estimation of one’s abilities? I never really looked at the word Modesty in that way before. I have always looked at it as not boasting, which is – to be unpretentious. Not to humiliate someone. No way. So, the word boast means to brag; speak highly of; to possess with pride. Holy moly! I am not modest, I brag. I boast. And I boast about others too. As I struggled with this definition of modesty, I asked my super smart fiancé if he had a different perspective about this. He said “I think most people mistake modesty for not having couth or having a quiet confidence, but that’s not what it is.” And I couldn’t agree more. I’m not sure that I want modesty to be among my list of qualities – if you can call it a quality. And I will continue to boast about my children, my fiancé, my mom, my friends. I will continue to boast about the things I have worked to possess – like my self-awareness and my abilities to do all that I can do, my Buddha Board and my cute puppy, Chewbacca. Because I AM Canad…. (Cue climactic music) Nevermind. Anyway, I do think that we often mistake the word Modesty for having a quiet confidence. Just a little food for thought. *please see note at the bottom of this post*

And now Pride and how it can be your downfall – this is going to be fun… When my son sent me his response to my question this morning, I instantly felt a huge sense of pride. I was so proud of him. So I bragged, I boasted. I even posted a screen shot of the text message on Facebook. This kind of pride cannot be bad, can it? Again, I feel the need to define. Pride means to be satisfied with yourself or a proper sense of own value. Other sources say that it’s a feeling of superiority or a source of personal satisfaction. Or a group of lions. Again, I think it’s not bad to have pride. Take pride in your work, be proud of your kids. So I guess pride can’t be your downfall. Sorry my handsome son, (yikes!) With that in mind, having a false sense of pride can definitely be your downfall. I think that pride is to be proud of our abilities, because that is something that we have worked hard for. The ability to read, the ability to run fast, the ability to be good at hockey. We can all be proud of our abilities. It’s when we think we are the best – meaning that someone else has to be second best, or third best, or even last that can be our downfall. When you have this false sense of pride, you can start to become egotistical. And we all know what being egotistical is. But just to clarify, it means; somebody who has an exaggerated sense of his or her own importance or somebody who is selfish or self-centered. And that’s just no good. In summation, I take the same stance on pride as I do on modesty. I will continue to be a proud mother, proud spouse, proud sister, proud daughter and friend. And in order to be the best I can be, and grow forever, I will continue to be proud of what I do and hold myself to high standards and be a great person. I can set these goals and challenge myself to grow beyond them. I will be careful though not to let it grow so that I must put other’s down in order to feel a sense of achievement or feel false pride. Not only can that be my downfall, but it can also be super harmful to others. And that, my friends, is not how I roll.

I hope that we can all differentiate respect from fear and that we can’t just take it from someone. I hope that I have helped to clarify Modesty and Pride. I also hope that I left you with a hint of it’s cool to make note of your accomplishments and achievements and that it’s okay to think you are great.

Thanks everyone! Feel free to comment and tell me what you think abou this one. J


*Now, I do agree that we should all have a sense of pride and modesty and have the ability to measure our achievements and accept praise gracefully when people recognize our efforts. I think it’s great to really be confident about yourself. I want you to really let this sink in. Bragging, Modesty, Pride, Praise, and the like should never ever take away from someone else. It should only be a positive thing. So if you are bragging about how your watch is “better” than that guy’s, perhaps you should rethink your intent. Maybe just leave the “better than” out of your statements. Again, this is my opinion.


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