The Be Proud Project - Freestyle
| June 4, 2018

The Be Proud Project

It was in my junior year of high school when I recall my self worth being rocked for the first time in an impactful way. A girl sitting in front of me in biology class turned around and out of the blue asked me if I loved what I saw while looking myself in the mirror. With no hesitation, I recall replying, “Yeah!” It took a split second for her whole face to morph into what I interpreted as utter disgust and say, “You are so full of yourself, Carl!” I didn’t say anything. I just sat there in silence. I was shook. What just happened? I had never questioned whether I liked myself, whether I believed in myself, or whether loving oneself could even be wrong. I was so confused.

I didn’t make much of it back then. I was an athlete. I had goals and was on a mission. As a competitive gymnast who was constantly being judged on how he looked, this was technically insignificant, but for some reason this interaction kept coming back to me. I kept questioning how I was carrying myself and how I was communicating what was true to me that could cause such a look of disgust in another person. I still today kind of chuckle and scratch my head thinking back at that moment.

I didn’t land where I am in the present moment by accident. My dreamer mentality accompanied by a relentless pursuit of my vision built on a a foundation of confidence and self worth have been fundamental for getting where I am today in my personal life and career. That being said, I’ve become more sensitive on how I present myself and especially more sensitive to how others see themselves and how this effects their confidence and self worth. Although, developing a higher degree of empathy has been valuable for connecting with people in this world, it has also led to shaking my world at times and resulting in what one of my advisors calls Compassion Fatigue- becoming exhausted from feeling what everyone else is feeling.

To avoid this from happening there is one very important piece I cannot neglect to continue moving forward with my life and that is taking inventory on my own self worth, in addition to creating a lifestyle based on setting healthy boundaries around my relationship and developing the skills to communicate in a way that allows me to meet people where they are by making sure they are heard. Being able to recognize what I am working with gives me clarity on how to continue working with others.

This is where becoming proud comes into play.

Although I’ve always been a sensitive person, I was raised to be proud and to love who I am. In my eyes, being sensitive and proud are the key to developing emotional intelligence, but they also have the ability to create a sense of confusion or as psychologists would say, cognitive dissonance. So before we get into it, let’s look at the definitions of sensitive and proud.




  1. quick to detect or respond to slight changes, signals, or influences. (of a person or a person’s behavior) having or displaying a quick and delicate appreciation of others’ feelings.




  1. feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one’s own achievements, qualities, or possessions or those of someone with whom one is closely associated.

The origin of sensitive comes from the latin word, sentire: to feel. Although we all feel, we are not always aware of what we are feeling or more so, what we are thinking or experiencing that is making us feel a certain way. This is most likely because when we are aware of what we are feeling it can be overwhelming and create some confusion.The origin of the word proud comes from the latin word, prodesse: be of value. It was eventually adopted into old French with the word, prud: valiant, one who possess or shows courage or determination. Valiant originates from the latin word, valere: be strong, well built, robust.

I was proud of what I saw in the mirror as a young high schooler, but my sensitivity made me aware that this wasn’t the case for everyone else, and furthermore how the presentation of my own pride could negatively affect others. It was easy to tip the balance towards being too sensitive and falling victim of other people’s problems and how you experience them, or becoming so proud that you become insensitive and out of touch with the world and those who live in it. So, how can one be proud yet sensitive? The answer in my book is humility.

Being humble, as I have learned over the years, is a skill and it is something I will dive deeper into in a future blog. For now, I want to focus on the concept of being proud and how it can help you identify where you are currently standing in terms of your self worth and maybe yield some insight on how to move forward in a way where you feel confident and at the same time sensitive to yourself and others.

In my efforts to begin this conversation on a broader scale, I started The Be Proud Project initiative – a practical approach for raising awareness on self worth through the act of reconciliation with oneself (#TheBeProudProject). Part 1 of the practical implementation of TBPP is very straight forward and requires a simple exercise of self observation and assessment in 4 different aspects of your life.

1. Your personal qualities.

2. Your achievements.

3. Your possessions.

4. Your relationships.

So, how does this work?

At the end of each day, make a mental or ideally written note on how your personal qualities and traits were presented to the world, what you’ve achieved, what you posses and the relationships you are currently engaged in and then ask yourself:

“Am I proud?”

Am I proud of the things that I listed? If the answer to the question is “Yes, I am proud” then you are most likely going in the right direction. If the answer to the question is “No” then you have an opportunity- an opportunity to make amends and change.

If you are not sure of your answer or you want to stress test it then go ahead and imagine all of the things you listed on that piece of paper or in your head put out for the whole world to see with no filter, whether it was on national television or the entire social media sphere. I know that may seem a little aggressive and exaggerated, but if this brings up an ounce of doubt, than there is most likely a lack of pride behind one or all of the things you listed.

I encourage you to give this a shot and if you feel like sharing what came up for you, I would love to have you share in the comments below!

Contributor: Carl Paoli

Be sure to tag #TheBeProudProject on social media on the things you are feeling proud of!

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