Is Self-Approval Bad Or Unhealthy?


Hey Rob,

On pg 59 of Ignore and Score, I’m wondering if you can either expand, or just offer an opinion on self approval. Specifically, because I am quite taken with Napoleon Hill’s great old tome the Law of Success and in it, he cautions strongly against self approval. Almost like pride goeth before a fall, ya know?





Hey Mark!

I’m not entirely sure I understand your question but I definitely have an opinion about pride and self approval.

Please realize these are just my opinions and that you should use your own life experience and wisdom to develop your own beliefs and inner systems.  Most of my best ideas are really just born from the ideas I’ve read elsewhere that “feel” most right for me in my life.

I grew up in a Catholic house and my mom explained to me the “sin” of Pride. Unfortunately I was too young to question what I was being told and so I grew up confused about this.

Since then I’ve learned a few things for myself and I’ve come to understand the world in a different way.

I no longer worry about “sins” as described by the bible or by my mom. Today I would define “sin” as anything that harms myself or others.

So as an adult what do I think of PRIDE or SELF APPROVAL?

Well, these are two different concepts. Pride can be a feeling of accompaniment. Self Approval is different; It’s about feeling approved of, and loved, and fitting in. Both of these ideas can be expressed as a type of emotion or feeling. And both of these ideas can waiver from healthy to unhealthy.




It’s healthy to feel pride in ourselves when we’ve done something difficult or we’ve overcome some personal obstacle. For example, this story of Ben Davis who lost 120 pounds:

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I’m proud of myself for finally finishing and publishing my book IGNORE AND SCORE. I worked really hard to write that book and when I watched it start to make sales in book stores I felt great accomplishment.

I didn’t need my friends to pat me on my back to feel GOOD about myself, even when they did.

I love and appreciate my friends but I try to ignore their compliments (and approval) because deep down I know that they don’t really KNOW if I worked hard or not… and therefore their opinions of my effort aren’t accurate. Only I know if I worked hard or not and therefore only I know if I should be proud or not.

I love my friends and I feel loved by my friends but I don’t base my own pride or approval on their opinions.

I don’t take their praise personally. Just as I don’t take their criticisms personally. This helps me stay free of the good and bad opinions of others. I try not to every take anything personally, which is often easier said than done.

Being proud of yourself for something you actually accomplished sounds okay to me. As does giving yourself approval for things that you’ve earned and deserve.



I think that pride becomes unhealthy when it’s used as a measuring stick against others or as a tool of manipulation.

How can pride be used as a tool to manipulate?

Imagine a man who’s insecure about himself. Perhaps he fears that his friends don’t really like him, or that they find him boring. Perhaps in order to feel better about himself he’ll boast about his income, or some girls he took home from the bar. In this way he’s hoping they will become jealous of his success, and in return he will feel pride in his accomplishments.

Except the fault in his boastful approach is that he’s tying his inner value on someone else’s measure of it. In his fear he’s asking his friends to define if he’s “good enough.” And if they are impressed with his money and women then they give him the approval he’s seeking. He’s letting his friends decide how he should feel.

He’s letting others dictate his emotional state. Which is a dangerous and horrible game to play because he’s vulnerable to the whims of others.

When others don’t like him, then he feels bad and he lowers his own defined value.

And here’s a secret… someone will always not like us. No mater how great we are there will always be people who are hateful or jealous.

Pride can also be damaging when refuse to help yourself out of a feeling of pride. For example, if you’re slowly going broke and don’t know how to ask family for help? That’s a form of pride. Or perhaps you’re become obsessed with superficial aspects of your appearance, causing you to suffer from eating disorders? Perhaps that’s a type of negative type of pride as well.

When you refuse to have perspective in order to maintain a delicate self image, that’s when pride becomes harmful. This is why it’s best to always force yourself to maintain some humility and modesty.




How can you tell if you’re being confident vs arrogant? They both seem to come down to a strong sense of self but why does arrogance feel so… negative?

Arrogance is confidence taken to extreme. When you take confidence and exaggerate it in such a way that you become disconnected with reality, then you’re swimming into the dangerous world of arrogance.

When your confidence begins to step on other people and you start to lose respect and appreciate for others then you’re likely being arrogant.

Even the most confident person can appreciate that others have different perspectives and opinions and feelings. An arrogant person often assumes everyone is wrong in comparison to themselves.

We are drawn to people who are confident because we can respect them. And we avoid arrogant people because we don’t respect them, and they clearly don’t respect us.

Confidence is giving and patient and open. Arrogance is closed and impatient and dismissive.

Can you feel the difference?

Here are two examples of people… Will Smith (confident) and comes across as genuine VS Kanye West (arrogant)who comes across as an asshole. They are both supremely talented and yet one seems to complain of persecutions and suffering (West) while the other shares love and inspiration (Smith).

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It’s important to understand something here. It’s healthy to decide upon our own inner pride and value, but this doesn’t mean we should disconnect from others or their feelings. I think the greatest “sin” is to lack empathy. It’s okay to share our feelings with our friends and those we have relationships with.

Do you know what we call a person without empathy? They are defined as being psychopath. This is someone who is antisocial who is disconnected from the feelings of others. And this isn’t what I’m talking about.

It’s healthy to FEEL what our friends FEEL. Having friends that tell us what they think of our behaviour keeps us grounded in reality and allows us to have some perspective on ourselves. Plus it helps us share our inner burdens and struggles. Being connected with those we love and trust keeps us safe and happy!

It’s okay to hear and accept the options of our close friends, as long as we don’t give them any more power over us than we give ourselves. It’s easy to let an overbearing insecure friend try to manipulate how we feel about ourselves. For example, I’ve seen parents try to control their own daughter by trying to make her feel bad about herself just because she was trying to understand a different religion then they followed.

Plus, there’s a terrible price to pay when we become too disconnected from others. And that’s when we become self absorbed.

Being self absorbed is the same thing as being alone. And that’s terrible.

It’s completely unhealthy to be blinded with our own inner struggles. Being prideful and self-righteous is an unhealthy defence mechanism people express when they’re trying to delude themselves. Those angry people who protest at the funeral of military men are these types of sad people. They enjoy causing controversy and being in the papers as a way of expressing their self-righteousness. They would prefer to think of themselves as being more HOLY than everyone else and therefore enjoy casting blame and hatefulness at others with signs and distractions. But that’s not holiness, that’s a clear lack of empathy for others.

Being honest with ourselves can be humiliating and painful if we’ve made mistakes. Nobody wants to hate themselves, nor should they. And so our ego will defend itself by striking out at the rest of society. It’s WAY easier to blame society when we have a lack of sexual success… “those damn whores and bitches don’t deserve me!”. Look at the sad tale of Elliot Rodger who became so disconnect with the world that he blamed women for his killing spree.

It’s hard to face our own disfunction’s and missteps. It’s hard, it’s painful, and it’s worth it.





It’s not our fault that the world is full of challenges and hardships. Life isn’t fair. There isn’t a fair distribution of wealth, or health, or success. It’s not our fault, but it IS our responsibility.

It’s not your fault if you’re depressed or bipolar or at a genetic disadvantage in this world, but it IS your responsibility.

When we blame others we are trying to cut ourselves lose from the responsibilities we have for ourselves. When we ask others for their approval we’re asking them to be responsible for how we feel. When we disconnect from the world because we feel fear and hate then we’re trying to escape the hard fact that WE are responsible for OURSELVES!

My point is that there it’s okay to be proud of yourself when your intent is to share love. If you’re bragging about something to your friends ask yourself this, “am I bragging because i’m waiting to see what they’ll say about me, or am I sharing with them because I love them?”  If you’re trying to “get” something from your friends, like approval or jealousy, then you should take a moment for a little self reflection and perspective.  When you love yourself it’s easy to love your friends, and visa versa.

And it’s also easy to try to make everyone else feel terrible when we feel terrible, like spreading a poison.

Just be wary of your true intent…. is it love or poison?  😀

I hope this helps?

~ Robby



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