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  • Writer's picturePSBN David

Pride Comes Before the Breakfall – Ego vs Learning

Pride isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Quite the opposite, in fact. But it is an aspect of yourself that takes some consideration to get the most out of life.

So where is important? Where should it be put aside? There’s no hard rules here, and it’s up to both teacher and student to work through it.



Pride is absolutely vital in the learning process. If you aren’t able to take pride in what you have accomplished, you’re crippling your own ability through “I’m not good enough.” This is incredibly difficult to overcome, as well. The root of this lies in your own self-doubt, and that means that the solution to this has to come from you. Family, friends, therapists, instructors, whoever you happen to take some solace in, can only point the way. Ultimately, you are the one who has to decide to take these things to heart and lessen that doubt.

When someone has a healthy sense of pride, they learn faster and have a greater understanding of the material. If you are confident in your abilities to learn, you are confident in your ability to try something new. This is arguably the most important part of the learning process.

It’s worth noting here that I’m not saying having self confidence will give you super powers and the ability to do literally anything you try. It IS the first step, though! You also must supplement this with some rationality and self-reflection. If I’ve never practiced a backflip before, I’m going to be aware that I’ll want to take some precautions before trying. You could describe this as self-doubt, but it’s more of a cautionary doubt. Having a misplaced pride is what leads into pride’s negative:



Ego I’ll define as being over-inflated pride. You are confident in your abilities, but to the point where you believe you will be able to easily master anything on the first attempt. For some people, this may be true for most things. If you’re naturally athletic: yes, you may be able to do that backflip on your first try. When someone never experiences failure (or have gotten very good at spinning it in their head so it doesn’t count), they can very easily have their pride turn into ego.

Assuming they do everything perfectly (and aren’t a jerk about it), this will never really come up as an issue. However, humans are all still fallible, no matter their skill level. This often leads to missing small details, or misunderstanding a concept. The issue with ego comes up here. For someone who has never been taught something more than once is suddenly faced with that, they don’t know how to deal with the situation and will often just shut down. Now their ego is blocking them from learning something correctly.

Even worse is when that person is themselves in a position to teach others. Now that error is going to spread further.

This is why it is incredibly important for teachers, more than anyone, to be able to put aside their egos. This can be extremely difficult, for some more than others. I’m a third-degree black belt! I’ve been doing it this way for over 15 years! When the information is coming from a higher authority (in this case degree), it is a lot easier to put aside your ego and really listen. Sometimes the information can come from an unexpected source, however. Even if it’s incorrect 90% of the time, it is still worth listening to and considering. For one, it’s basic respect towards that person, and you may be able to understand the source of their confusion and easier remedy it. However, there is always that chance that this is a nugget of wisdom that you may otherwise miss if you dismiss the information offhand. And you are worse off for it.


Final Thoughts

If I were able to give advice on how to avoid your ego, I would be a Buddhist monk with a much longer beard. Unfortunately, it’s a little out of my depth. All I can offer is my own experience which is to do your best to be mindful of your ego. Use self-reflection to figure out where your weak spots are, what can trigger that response to defend your ego. Learn to recognize it and you will be better able to control it. Take a deep breath, consider what was offered to you, and then make your decision.

Practice mindfulness.

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