Barriers to Forgiveness, Part 3: Pride

C.S. Lewis once noted that pride is that tendency to find pleasure in moving other people around like toy soldiers.  Pride seeks to win, to be superior, to have the light shining on the self.

When we are treated unjustly by another, then perhaps it is that other person who has moved us around as if we were toy soldiers.  It is at this time that resentment can take hold of us and if we are not able now to competitively move our injurer around like a toy soldier, we dig the trench of resentment and stay there for the battle.

If the other does not apologize, we do not want to budge from our pride-trench.  The central problem of waiting for the other to admit defeat is this: Too often those who hurt us do not apologize.

What we need is an antidote to pride, something that will extend a warm hand and help us out of the trench.  The antidote is the virtue of humility, a virtue that the philosopher Nietzsche looked on with distain, calling it a “monkish virtue.”  It is apparent that Nietzsche’s philosophy valued power and so he wanted nothing to do with humility.

The major problem with detesting humility is that sometimes the other’s power over us remains, despite our best efforts.  If all we have left is our pride-trench, then the other’s power could defeat us in an emotional sense as we develop unhealthy anger and even anxiety and depression.

To combat the barrier of pride, we need to value and practice humility, that sense that we need not always get our way and that power is an impostor not worthy of following.  With humility, we do not meet power with power.  Yes, we meet power with a call for justice, but this is very different from pride, which calls for its pound of flesh from the other.  Once we have developed the virtue of humility, which gets us out of our pride-trench, we are free to begin forgiving, which can actually eliminate the resentment so that it no longer has power over us.

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Categories: Barriers to Forgiveness, Courage, Helpful Forgiveness Hint, Our Forgiveness Blog


  1. Samantha says:

    Forgiveness is in a battle with the world. The world exalts power. Forgiveness is not about power. The world looks down upon humility. Forgiveness raises up humility as an important virtue.

  2. Chris says:

    C.S. Lewis also said that pride is the first thing that we see and dislike in other people and rarely see this in ourselves.

  3. Brigid says:

    Sometimes because of pride we find it hard to admit that another person has hurt us. So we basically deny reality and repress the anger and stay miserable. Pride is the primary reason for this. Pride thus is a path to self punishment and humility is the path to freedom from that punishment as we give ourselves permission to acknowledge the hurt and forgive.

  4. Dwayne says:

    This blog is soooo to the point. As C. S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

  5. Brian says:

    Humility is a too-often-neglected virtue in today’s society. It must be teamed with a quest for justice, of course. Otherwise, we may be left with our calm feelings and still the situation has not improved.

  6. Greg H says:

    Never thought about it but this makes much sense. Like waiting for an apology you can tie yourself in knots when pride take hold. Being aware of this seems like half the battle, but being aware of it is tough.

  7. Harriet M. says:

    Pride is a necklace I have worn. The only problem is that while I used to think such a necklace was beautiful, it was actually unbecoming to me and for anyone else who happened to be around me.


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