Humility is not thinking of being less, it is not believing that you are more

Who I am
Robert Maurer

Author and references

With the advent of narcissism, humility seems to have been relegated to the second or third level. Many people who have become idols of the masses are certainly not distinguished by their humility but rather the opposite: they usually have a high dose of self-centeredness that borders on narcissism.

As a result, it's not uncommon for humble people to end up looking a little weird, as if they're following a repetitive lifestyle that hardly anyone understands and much less shares. Yet humility is one of the most important values ​​for our psychological well-being.

The parable that shows the incredible value of humility

An ardent meditator, after spending years focusing on a mantra, thought he had learned enough to become a master. Although the student was not very humble, the teachers of the monastery were not very worried, they thought that with maturity humility would also come.

After a few years of teaching, the young student thought that no one had anything to teach him anymore, but after learning that a very important teacher lived in a nearby cave, the opportunity seemed too exciting to pass up.

The master lived alone on an island in the middle of a lake, so the young man paid a boatman to take him to him. The young man was respectful of the old master and, as they drank tea together, asked him about his spiritual practice.

The old man said he had no spiritual practice, except for a mantra which he repeated over and over. The young man was visibly pleased that the hermit was using the same method as he was. However, when the master said the mantra aloud, the young man was horrified!

"What's going on?" Asked the teacher.

"I do not know what to say. I'm afraid you've wasted your whole life! You are saying the mantra incorrectly!

“Oh, that's awful! How am I supposed to tell? " The old man asked.

The young man correctly pronounced the mantra, and the old master was grateful to him. He asked him to leave him alone immediately so that he could meditate. On the way back, the young man thought he had become a skilled teacher and felt sorry for the hermit. He thought that the old man was lucky to have met him so that he could meditate with the correct mantra before he died.

But when the boat was already crossing the center of the lake, the boatman signaled in amazement the arrival of the old man walking on the water.

“Excuse me, please. I forgot the correct pronunciation of the mantra. Could you repeat it to me? " Churches.

"Obviously, you don't need it," stammered the young man astounded by the miracle, but the old man insisted so hard that the young man repeated it again.

The master walked away repeating the mantra very carefully, slowly, again and again, as he walked on the surface of the water to the island.

This interesting tale tells us that sometimes we are too full of ourselves to learn from others, so we waste precious growth opportunities just because we think we are a step above others. It also speaks to us of humility which includes authentic intelligence and self-confidence, the humility from which the willingness to listen to others arises.

What is - and isn't - humility?

Many people have a misconception of humility by associating it more with humiliation than with maturity and greatness. In fact, psychologists at the University of British Columbia believe there are two types of humility. Self-denying or humiliating humility is that which "comes from personal failures, involves negative self-evaluation and actions aimed at hiding that image from others, which generates a propensity for shame, low self-esteem and submission," as they said.

Obviously, humility that exalts and liberates is not like that. What is humility not?

• It is not that others are constantly walking past us, literally or metaphorically.

• It is not being a victim of the doormat effect by letting others trample on us.

• It is not constantly sacrificing our interests and needs to those of others.

• It's not about avoiding conflict at all costs just to be nice.

• It is not hiding our feelings or silencing our opinions in order to agree with others.

The other kind of humility, which these psychologists called "grateful," comes from a solid self-esteem that allows us to appreciate the accomplishments of others without feeling envious. This humility consists in accepting ourselves with our abilities and defects, without bragging about them. Psychologist Pelin Kesebir of the University of Colorado discovered in his studies that being humble involves having a "quiet ego" and "a willingness to accept the limitations of the self and its place in the grand scheme of things."

In other words, a humble person knows what is good and what is bad and does not continually seek praise or confirmation from others. The humble do not feel the need to proclaim their skills and successes, they are not pretentious or arrogant.

What is the key to humility?

"Humility is not thinking that you are less, it is not believing that you are more," wrote novelist CS Lewis and now science proves it. Duke University psychologists conducted a very interesting study in which, according to them, they discovered the essence or most important quality of humility. These researchers recruited 419 people and asked them to describe their main achievements in life and compare them with those of others.

Each participant then performed a test in which different personality characteristics, including humility, were analyzed. The researchers also asked them how they thought others should treat them based on the type of people they were and the results they had achieved.

Psychologists found that people who scored high in humility were no different from others in terms of the importance they attached to their achievements or skills, what distinguished them was a special trait. That is, humble people recognized the importance of their achievements and the exceptional nature of some of their qualities, but even so they did not believe they deserved special treatment.

Humility as an experience of personal liberation

Humility is above all an experience of personal liberation. Being humble involves giving up certain reflections and thought patterns that lead us, on the one hand, to feel the need to compete or impress others and, on the other, to think that we have the right to receive preferential treatment.

Humility mitigates the urge to oppose or overcome others or automatically react to perceived threats to the sense of self. Getting rid of that need leads us to a state of inner liberation because we are aware that we don't have to overcome anything but ourselves.

Humility implies an experience of personal growth in which we have developed such security that we no longer need to rise above others, but not even below. It means that we have understood that we are all on the same level, from the apparently most "important" person to the least "important" person, because all that separates and stratifies us are nothing but fictitious social constructions. Being humble therefore means recognizing that we are as precious as anyone, no more and no less.

When we reach that level of self-confidence and security, our egos will be less threatened and less responsive, which will allow us to appreciate, praise, and encourage others. This means that we will be able to maintain more authentic and assertive interpersonal relationships, as demonstrated by a study conducted at the University of Virginia. Thus, people will feel affirmed, appreciated, encouraged, validated and emotionally nurtured, they will not feel they have to compete with us. And this will make them appear more authentic.

Humility, as Fritz Perls said, must be aware that “I am me. You are you. I am not in this world to meet your expectations. You are not in this world to satisfy mine. " Accepting this can be the most liberating act of our life.

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