How Do I Deal With My Need For Pride?
First and foremost, we should very well know that this want of ‘people should like me, people should need me’ is bound to kill; the very nature of this want is such. The earlier we understand this fact, the better it is for us and everyone around us.
Now, let’s address your important question in this regard, which is ‘How do I deal with this?’
Almost every person in this world, right from childhood, overtly or covertly seeks attention.
But why do we want to be the centre of attention?
We want to be the centre of attention because we like attention. It makes us feel that we matter; that we are important. Consequently, a feeling of pride that ‘I am special’ silently encroaches into our being. The pride developed from this belief of ‘I am something’, ‘I can do this, that’, is so very sweet that although we may be aware of our pride and we may urge that we want to be free from it, but truly speaking we don’t want to be free from it as much because deep inside we like this sweetness. Our craving for this sweetness in pride makes us want to be the centre of attention.
Therefore, in practice we by all means try to exhibit our talents, appreciate others, care for them and expect the same in return. When people need us, appreciate us and care for us, we feel nice, happy and secured. It is for this feeling that we want to be the centre of attention.
Now, to deal with this, we must ask ourselves, ‘Is this sweetness, the feeling of happiness, the sense of security, etc. experienced by becoming the centre of attention permanent?’ The answer is No. It is like the happiness we get in the shade of a tree after a long wandering in the scorching heat of the sun. We find the shade very sweet owing to the sun’s bitter heat. This implies it is relative, and not the real happiness; it is transient; and not permanent security.
That which is temporary is bound to bring suffering when it’s gone! So we must seriously introspect, analyze and find out what we really want – temporary or permanent happiness?
Why does suffering arise when we become an attention seeker?
Our constant attention is on ‘do people like me, how much do they like me, why do they like me, what do they like of me? etc.’ The pride we feel when we are centre of attention; the same pride is hurt when we are ignored. The suffering experienced when we are ignored is directly proportional to the excitement we feel when we get importance. So, it is pride that makes us feel elevated and depressed. The more we expect others to need us, the more we suffer when they shun us.
We like to be praised and felt important by others for this makes us believe that we are special in some way, for some people, in some field. And when people do not give us importance or deliberately ignore us, it leads us to believe that we are worthless and not good enough. Thus, our suffering is merely due to our beliefs. We keep getting hurt due to our wrong beliefs which emerge from our craving for attention from people.
Further, when we see someone giving attention to us, we love it. And this exactly is what draws one into even greater suffering as yet another wrong belief arises within that I will be happy when s/he is with me. One tends to become emotionally dependent on the person giving him / her attention. This leads into possessiveness for that person which in turn generates the fear of losing that person. Owing to the fear, one starts hating those who get closer to that person. And in anguish, one starts dictating the behaviour of the other person i.e. where s/he should go and not go, whom should s/he meet or not meet, what s/he should do and not do, etc. wanting the other person to behave exactly as one asks them to. One gets so obsessed with one’s attachment for that person that knowingly or unknowingly, s/he starts hurting people around and in the process s/he too suffers as much.
It may sound strange, but the only way to come out of this mess is to attain Self-Realization because the root cause of all sufferings is the ignorance of one’s real Self.
It is like we feel so insecure when we go to someone else’s house (unknown person’s house), isn’t it? But when we are in our own house, we are absolutely free and secure. We move around as we wish and are not scared or nervous about anything. Similarly, when we realize that, ‘I am a Pure Soul’ and reside in this abode of eternal bliss, all fears, worries, excitement, nervousness, elevation and depression are gone. Once we get Self-Realization from a Gnani (The Awakened One), we feel completely secured; a permanent security is experienced. Thereafter, our want to be needed by others does not exist anymore.
If we take tea after having a sweet dish, will we not find the tea to be tasteless? Similarly, when we experience the ‘Real Love’ from our own Self, or the Gnani, who is the embodiment of Pure Love, we will not search for attention from outside anymore.
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