In terms of doing therapy, one of the major issues clients face is dealing with their pride. Should a person apologize and admit that they made a mistake? Should a person take a job at a lower pay than s/he made before? Should someone go out of their way to help someone when that person has been hurtful? What I usually hear is, “I have my pride. So I can’t.” But the issue is larger than that. Are there ways to maintain one’s self respect and be flexible? Here are some examples and suggestions.
One of my clients has a teenage boy. Like the cartoon character Zits in the comic strip of the same name, he eats an extraordinary amount. And he doesn’t do it consistently. Mom came in and said she was broke. How was she going to feed him? And was all this food good for him?
I mentioned that she apply for food stamps. She is awaiting them. I mentioned Catholic Charities and a local charity that gives out food. She says it’s degrading. I said that unless the doctor says that her son’s eating too much and the wrong kinds of foods—and, by the way—he’ll grow to 6’4”—he needs to eat. I said that her pride was getting in the way. She argued a bit, telling me how she has different coupons and tries to remember and memorize the prices at different stores, but that she has too much on her plate. I said, “Look what this is doing to you. Use what you can. When your life is stabilized and you can get a job, give back so that others can get by.”
There are lots of situations where pride can get in your way. Examine it by yourself and with your therapist. Could you have handled the situation differently? Would a little bit of honey make the situation smoother? Do you have any real alternatives? Can you work it out with the person or people involved? Be flexible—not a patsy!