Humility is a widely misunderstood term, and if you are looking to better yourself, you will need to learn to cultivate true humility and avoid the negative things that can be described by it. In this article we’ll go into how.
The Meaning Of True Humility
In this day and age it’s common to hear people admonish, “Have a little more humility!” The catch-22 is that to get praise, we have to not get praise! It is the personal experience of many psychotherapists that many people become so unhappy when they run this pattern that they seek professional help. Many therapeutic disciplines such as Transactional Analysis encourage patients to develop a healthy habit of giving themselves deserved praise and acceptance.
Humility is still a good thing, but must be redefined. A healthy sense of humility is really a sense of realism concerning your place in the grand scheme of things. When viewed in the context of infinity, no man or woman is very big or very powerful.
The perspective of infinity can be useful when excess pride or arrogance threatens to impair our performance in the world. It also cultivates a sense of levity which has a tendency to reduce the power of other negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, stress and fear. You can stop for a moment whenever you feel that your state is overly negative and consciously focus on the truth that you are infinitely small and your life is infinitely short in the grand scheme of things.
Visualisation can be a good exercise to give you this perspective. Sitting in a comfortable position, give yourself 5 minutes to imagine that you are flying through the universe at incredible speeds, passing stars, planets, and galaxies in the blink of an eye. Go far, far out, and then return. When you open your eyes, things may take on a different level of importance, including you!
You can gain humility by opening your horizons, too. You could gain real perspective by climbing a mountain and looking down on the landscape before you, but you can become aware of things that go beyond yourself by learning a new skill, volunteering, or visiting a new country. We often close ourselves up in pride when we don’t have new experiences to disprove our assumptions about ourselves and others Seeing and doing new things can be powerful ways to make you a better person.
You can also gain humility by giving compliments to yourself! This may seem entirely counter intuitive but arrogance is often based on a sense of insecurity concerning our own worth. When we feel bad about ourselves, we feel the need to “prove” that we are OK, and cause damage in the process. Negative forms of humility are a side of the same coin as this; they are simply affirmations that we are not OK after all.
Finally, you can learn to be more at peace with yourself and gain more true humility by writing in your journal or sharing with an understanding friend all the ways in which you have stopped yourself feeling good about yourself in the past. Find insight as to why you did so, and choose to change these patterns now. You can then write or share the ways in which you’d like to be appreciative of yourself from now on, for instance, “I think I’m a great artist and I love how I make people happy through what I do!” Continue with this as long as you desire, as there really is no way of having too much sincere (clean) appreciation. To make sure that your appreciation really is of the clean sort, combine this practise with the humility visualisation described above.
Humility is a sign of spiritual development and worth giving a thought to as you grow into a better person. Look for it in your heart, and not externally. You already have true humility in you; just find it and bring it out.