Self-Pride

by Fernando Perfas

Proud parents | Photo by John Myers via Wikimedia Creative Commons

One of the important lessons I learned from my parents was self-pride. In most cases, with them, I learned from what I saw how they conducted themselves. It took many years before I understood the full import of this lesson. It was memorable because both my parents were of humble means. In spite of their station in life, it was important to them that their children develop an appreciation for the concept of “quality,” and their children have “pride in quality.”

For example, while most people in our rural village in Bicol ate with their hands, our parents insisted that we also learn to eat with a spoon and fork. Their reason was sanitation and learning civil behavior just in case we found ourselves dining with more affluent people. When eating with our hands, they admonished us to be proper and that we do not allow food to soil our entire hands. They said that bits of rice or food coating the length of the fingers is unseemly and uncivilized behavior. They also taught us to speak Tagalog, the lingua franca of Manila, besides our dialect, because Manila is the center of commerce and civil authority where we might find ourselves living one day. Nonetheless, their different ways did not escape the eyes of gossip-mongers in our village, and they considered our parents odd and aloof.

I am forever grateful to my parents for my upbringing. They taught us enduring values and the importance of self-respect. Thievery was common in my village, and they shunned such behavior. They told us to work for what we want and to value honesty. My Dad punished us severely for any breach of such code of conduct. Embodied in all their parental guidance and discipline was the importance of self-pride. It wasn’t only necessary to instruct us on the importance of decent behavior. Somehow, they seemed to understand the need to inculcate to us personal values.

“Self-pride has important ramifications on the quality of behaviors, given that behaviors are reflections of our inner reality, our self-image. Without self-pride, we ignore the consequences of our actions on others and how such actions might reflect an inferior quality about ourselves.”

My parents were no different from most Filipinos, who were conditioned to be subservient to authority. A habit transmitted through generations of Filipinos. This conditioning was ingrained into our forebears by the colonial masters starting from the Spaniards. Such conditioning inhibited the full development of self-pride, particularly if such subservience entails giving up a part of one’s identity in the service of an oppressive master. This corrosive inequality in social relations undermined a healthy view of the self, perpetuating itself into succeeding generations.

Repeated or extended disempowering experiences rob us of self-pride. Eventually, we begin to waver in our belief in self-determination and the ability to influence the outcome of events in our lives. Self-pride has important ramifications on the quality of behaviors, given that behaviors are reflections of our inner reality, our self-image. Without self-pride, we ignore the consequences of our actions on others and how such actions might reflect an inferior quality about ourselves.

My parents showed me that one does not have to be wealthy or educated to show self-pride. For them, it was an integral part of human decency, an important element in social interactions, and the gold standard by which others judge an individual and the individual as a member of a nation.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at fbperfas@gmail.com.

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