I have a logomisia (def. strong dislike for a particular word based on its sound, meaning, usage, or associations). I didn't think it was something I had until very recently. I am ashamed to admit I sometimes teased people about theirs without even realising how debilitating my own was. But fortunately, I think I am slowly recovering.
My logomisia is "Proud". I was taught very early that "proud" has meant something absolutely negative. Proverbs 3:34 says "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" and this found itself directly quoted in the attributed writings of apostles Peter and James. For a child growing up in an environment that venerated biblical writings and early church characters, the negative connotations around being proud and pride as set against the virtues of meekness and humility imbued me with an aversion to the word and ever being associated with it. To be proud could only equate to arrogance and undeserved self-importance.
This certainty that "proud" could only have a negative meaning, (why would I look up a word's definition if I had years of bible teaching and use to rely on?), did lead to some confusion when I would encounter people exhorting others to feel proud. I would often come away from an encounter with "proud" thinking at best it was meant to be taken as a temporary indulgence of the ego to feel better about yourself compared to others. This temporary elevation would stand in contrast with the standard "good" mode of accepting being mundane and unimportant, even less than or insignificant to, those around you.
All this as background to say that for some 17 years, when I have heard Heather Small's song "Proud" with the lyrics: "What have you done today to make you feel proud? So what have you done today to make you feel proud? 'Cause you could be so many people if you make that break for freedom So what have you done today to make you feel proud?" What I heard was: "What have you done today to make you feel super good about yourself even though you know you're nothing special? So what have you done today to make you feel better than others? 'Cause you could be so many people if you make that break for freedom from being ordinary which is actually silly, but ok So what have you done today to make you feel you are super important?"
And then recently the smallest thing transformed my thinking. I was confronted by the definition of "pride" as posted in KW Hungry Minds word of the day: "a reasonable and justifiable feeling of being worthwhile" And I have been sitting with that since it was posted and letting it churn in my mind. "a reasonable and justifiable feeling of being worthwhile" And I realised how my logomisia had so subtly made me hard-hearted to what was really being communicated and how deeply needed being proud is: "What have you done today to make you feel that you aren't being negatively judged? So what have you done today to make you feel you matter? 'Cause you could be so many people if you make that break for freedom from negative thoughts about who you are from yourself or others that keeps you from joy and caring So what have you done today to make you feel you belong here?" And I am not ashamed to admit I wept at realising the universality of this poetic expression of a heart's desire to matter when I removed my own skewed view of "proud". That being ordinary requires pride to build and function in a healthy community, and to eliminate pride is to be cut off and isolated. Having written this I can feel the fear of letting go of my relationship with "proud" well up into my throat. There are negatives of too much of any good thing. There are those with nefarious ways of manipulating pride to make some feel they can only be worthwhile in service of a narrowly defined community (read radicalised extremist groups, supremacists, etc.). But for me it was quite a journey of seeing how such a small blind spot to the possibility of a single word meaning something different than what I had built into it could still haunt me and had the power of opening up a new world when the ripples of a small thought touched it and I wanted to share it.