Pride is one of the most insidious attributes that we have to consider in ourselves and others. There is a part of pride that is necessary, good, and healthy. We can be rightly ‘proud’ of the achievements of our children. We can be ‘proud’ of our country and there is a certain measure of pride that we can and should have in ourselves. Pride also is a normal attribute of immaturity. It is the element that says ‘we are better than anyone else’. For the most part it is innocent because of our lack of ‘growing up’ and we are still socially immature. This can be true regardless of how old we are.
One characteristic of inordinate pride is an inability to admit we are wrong. Regardless of our intentions and best efforts, we all can and do make mistakes. If the mistake caused someone pain or loss, we owe them an apology and perhaps compensation as well. If we have a ‘high’ position and the offended has a ‘lowly’ position, it makes no difference. We hear fatuous arguments between political figures. Each will struggle to explain why their behavior was excusable, good, and even beneficial to the injured. We hear very weak ‘mea culpa’ statements that suggest that, maybe, they are sorry if what they said or did offended anyone. We hear news commentators discussing whether the political statement was really an apology or a justification of the action. A real apology starts out with the implication: “Please forgive me, I was WRONG.”
Such statements as, everybody makes mistakes, you started it, I didn’t mean to hurt anybody, ‘so and so’ did worse than I did, etc. reflects the inability of the offender to understand or admit their wrongdoing. This goes back to one of the statements that are repeated over and over in this book. When you finally know who you are, you will realize that nobody owes you anything that you do not also owe them. The corollary is also true; you owe to other people what they owe to you. In fact, your maturing process will reveal that you are very ordinary as is everyone else.
If you want to understand your maturity level, listen to what you say when you make a mistake. Do you explain, rationalize, minimize, and otherwise evade the issue, or do you ‘hit it head on’ with a sincere apology that says’ “I am sorry, I was wrong…” If you lied, don’t hide behind soft words such as; “I misspoke.” First of all, except in some kinds of political discussion, ‘everyone’ knows that you were wrong and you are trying to ‘save face’. You give yourself a great boost in the respect that others have for you if you are able to admit what others know I true.
Some people realize that they were wrong, but they hope that people will just forget about the offense/error without any admission of guilt. This reaction is caused by the lack of understanding of ‘who you are’. This is an expression of arrogance that comes from immaturity. They want to act as if the offense never happened, ‘sweep it under the rug’, and go on as before. If the offender is a child, this may be the best thing to do, but if the offender wants to be considered to be an adult, they must do the ‘adult thing’ and respond accordingly. Otherwise, they ‘shoot themselves in the foot’ by leaving a scar on their reputation that they are vainly trying to protect by denying the truth.
There is no way that they can ‘go on as before’. Actually, if they are able to act in a mature fashion, they may actually have a better reputation in the minds of their associates by being ‘big enough’ to accept responsibility for their own actions. This proposition is based in maturity and in knowing who you are – a very ordinary person.
The contrary problem also exists, when you must deal with a person who can’t take responsibility for their own mistakes. If the offender is not an adult, hopefully, this too will pass. If this is just a social issue, you may just ignore his personality glitch. If it involves a serious behavior problem, professional intervention may be required. I worked with a man who had such a problem. I was able to find a situation where I could bring up his problem. He asked me what he should do about it and I suggested psychiatric counseling. He was on psychotic medication for the rest of his life.
If you know that you are dealing with immaturity, even at ‘mature’ ages, as with the proverbial mother-in-law, there may not be much you can do about it except to ‘roll with the punches’ or change your associations if you can. Right or wrong, everyone has these challenges.”‘ Knowing who you are’ provides the understanding of who other people are. This is the mechanism that will enable you to do the very best that you can in the situation. In fact, understanding other people’s weaknesses gives a great advantage in negotiating to your best advantage and theirs.