Don’t be proud of me

Dr Jason Fox
2 min readJun 27, 2019


Be proud of yourself instead.

Pride is perhaps something to celebrate in oneself. And in a team, group or movement you identify with (especially if they have triumphed through adversity).

But unless you want to reinforce a sense of hierarchy in your relationships – avoid being ‘proud’ of another.

Photo by Phil Botha on Unsplash

This quote from Surface Detail – a science fiction novel by Iain Banks – expresses the shadow side of this sentiment aptly.

“He… was proud of her, even though he knew such vicarious pride was mere sentimentality, arguably just a typically male attempt to appropriate some of her achievement for himself. But still.”

Pride is also one of those words that evokes its shadow: shame. To call attention to how proud you are of someone is to inadvertently imply that there have been times in which you were not proud of them. Shame is therefore the unsaid whisper we hear when one is ‘proud of us’.

We can make some exceptions. It might be fine for a parent or guardian-figure to be proud of your achievements. Or for someone who has played an extremely significant role in your achievement, and who has shared in your struggles. But otherwise: it’s best reserved as a smug, petty and private indulgence (and not a public one).

Or even better: pride in another is best replaced altogether with admiration.

Oh what? Is there an element of your multitudinous self that feels a bit miffed? A tad overlooked? A bit forgotten or under appreciated?

Yeah: I get that too, sometimes.

But filling that void will not come through the vicarious appropriation of other people’s achievements. Even in something so seemingly benign as ‘pride’. That is the way of the shadow artist, and it will only make you feel more hollow.

Don’t not be proud of others, for we all need our vices: they bring character. But also recognise the shadow side of your pride for another, and counterbalance it with something more noble. Find ways to ‘fill your own well’ (hat tip to The Artist’s Way) — accumulate humble achievements that bring a sense of satisfaction and ‘meaning’ to your world.

I’m on some fool quest to share 50 insights in 50 days. This is day 6. Today was hard – I wrote this on the side of a freeway at 11pm. More at