A few years ago, a friend of mine explained the concept of humility in an entirely new way to me. She shared the following joke to illustrate the concept of minimizing our ego and sense of all-knowingness:
Q: “What’s the difference between God and me?”
A: “God doesn’t think he’s me!”
Through 12-step recovery programs, Positive Psychology courses, therapy, or just taking time for self-reflection and awareness, millions of people worldwide have learned how the process of self-discovery and awareness can strengthen their relationships to themselves, to others, and to something larger than themselves—whether they call that God, universal flow or potential, or a higher power.
Humility is a contradiction-laden concept because most people assume humility is a sign of weakness, when, in fact, humility is actually an act of strength. It takes a lot of maturity and self-awareness to admit when we’ve made a mistake. It can be difficult to make a course correction and change our thoughts, words, and actions—especially when we come to recognize that habits or behaviors practiced over years or decades no longer serve us.
As a child, my family’s dinner table was animated with conversations about how we spent our days, what we learned in school, and what was going on in the world. People had opinions and were encouraged to express them in this lively forum. As we find ourselves being part of a family ecosystem as well as being connected to our “chosen” family of friends, colleagues, and co-workers we learn to interact with different customs, assumptions, and communication styles. Throw in all of the moving pieces of in-person encounters and virtual gatherings and we’ve all had to learn how to connect in new and ever-changing ways. Sometimes in all of these social circles and relationships, there’s great potential to misunderstand each other or miss opportunities for mutual connection.
That’s where empathy and curiosity can help us cut through the turbulence, noise, or fragmented attention span that can come from living on Zoom to make sure we are being our best selves in relation to the people in our life. And that’s when humility can be a healing salve that mitigates the sting of hurt feelings, misunderstanding, and helps people do a reset.
“I’m sorry” is a complete sentence. So is “I forgive you.”
The best thing about activating authentic humility is what I call the “test of the toothbrushing time.” When you look into the bathroom vanity at the end of the day while brushing your teeth, it’s a wonderful time to review the events of the day and see where your values and actions aligned and places where there’s room for a bit of adjustment so you can try to do better tomorrow. When we are sincerely humble and able to ask for forgiveness or to admit a mistake to ourselves and to others, it can lead to feeling energized by knowing that you took the high road, regardless of the reaction of the other person.
I’m sending you strength and love.
Soaringwords is the power to heal.