Oh Lord, It’s Hard To Be Humble
”But, more of us should exhibit it.”
Posted on February 6, 2022 by Tom Thayer
“Leadership is an action, not a position.”
In today’s culture, children are often taught that they’re perfect, they’re always winners, and they can never do wrong.
Parents tend to protect their kids and shelter them from “the hard stuff”. They guard their children from any experiences of negativity, hardship, or failure. They teach their children that as long as they “be themselves” then that in itself deserves an unconditional reward for some reason. Kind of like getting an “I showed up” award, which the rest of us knows does not exist.
It’s innocent enough. Parents are doing it out of love, of course, and really are just working to bolster and protect their children’s “self-esteem”, but in doing so, they are weakening their children’s very core of self-worth by re-enforcing the wrong trait to covet.
As a result, kids grow to adulthood and their “self-worth” becomes narcissistic.
NARCISSISTIC (having excessive interest in or admiration for themselves.)
They then have an unrealistic belief that “I deserve all the happiness and success in the world exactly as I am. And anyone that denies me this is wrong.”
This makes people self-centered, egotistical, and entitled, and they begin to believe that they deserve everything for nothing, when really, they’ve never put in the work to earn it themselves.
Even though our world covets it more and more, I don’t think that “self-esteem” is the best way to good character or to be a good person. I’m more of a fan of humility and modesty.
We all acted out as kids. Tested our boundaries. Took chances. Raised a little hell. Some more than others. Like others, I had my share of “selfish” moments as a kid and had to “pay the piper” for my actions.
And when I did get caught, and/or had to own up to my indiscretion, I distinctly remember my dad asking me very clearly and (very often), “What the hell were you thinking in doing that?”, or “I swear boy, sometimes I don’t know what the hell goes through your head”. Then his go to, “Do you even think before you do sh*t?”
Well, I know for certain, I wasn’t thinking, I was just acting, and as young men, we quite often are only “thinking” about how cool it’s going to be once we do _____________(insert stupid idea here)
Well, nothing said humility like being picked up from a chair by your ear, when your dad found out you did something stupid (again) and got in trouble in school today(again). Yup. A little fear, mixed with regret can humble you up real quick!
Moments like that make you realize your own limitations, who was really in charge, and that you aren’t nearly as big of deal as you thought you were, right? When dad doled out punishment at our house, humble pie was being served up fresh and hot!
And now as an adult, if I learned nothing else, I know that learning those two things were huge pieces that I rely on today and what I think keeps me grounded and thankful. So, onto humility.
- a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.
“he needs the humility to accept that their way may be better”
As painful as it can be, we need to acknowledge our weaknesses and limitations more often as adults and also allow our children experience and learn that. We need to reinstitute the concept of a “flawed self” – a self that is hypocritical, broken, and highly prone to being wrong and making mistakes.
It’s only when we accept this “flawed self,” that we can truly embark on self-improvement and the building of good character. If we always pretend, we will never grow as individuals. We can pretend we’re perfect, we can pretend we can do no wrong, we can even pretend there’s not a problem when there is.
Humility doesn’t always come naturally to some people, and some won’t realize it until later in their years. Others gain it early in life. I gained mine through “ugly” real life experiences, school bullying and fat-shaming. I didn’t use it, let alone know what it was until much later, but when I did have my “aha” moment, it was life changing. And as much as it was a crappy way to live those years as a “fat kid”, I’d much rather be the human I am now than the human those poor souls ended up growing into.
Some people grow thinking they are smarter than they really are. Some also think they’re better than they really are, and that they are morally superior than they really are. A fresh blast of humility could help curb all of this.
First of all, humility is hard, because as I stated earlier, it comes from recognizing your own flaws. It has to come from a recognition that you are not always right, that you do not have all the answers and that you have to accept yourself in just that way.
It’s also because when demonstrated, it is often misinterpreted by others as a sign of weakness, when in actuality it is an indication of tremendous inner strength.
So, what does humility do for us anyway? I’m sure the lessons are long and glorious, but here are some I’ve found that resonate with me the most.
- “I am not perfect.” – I’m not perfect, I’ve made mistakes in the past and I will make mistakes in the future. There will always be some things I want to change about myself. I’m a never-ending project. Perfect is not real anyway. Perfection is an illusion. Embrace the perfect imperfection that is you.
- “I don’t know everything.” – I’m not as smart as I think I am. I often overestimate how much I know about a particular subject, and it’s important for me to accept what ignorance can teach me. Not knowing allows us to be open, creative and willing to live in a state of wonder and possibility.
- “My feelings don’t always serve me.” – When I accept my “flawed self,” I accept that sometimes I need to fight against my natural desires and impulses when they don’t serve my best interests. My emotions can sometimes misguide me. Instead learn & understand my emotions to better relate to people, form healthier relationships and lead a more fulfilling life.
- “I accept my weaknesses.” – Like everyone else, I have both strengths and weaknesses. By ignoring my weaknesses, I only make myself more susceptible to give into them and repeat them. I need to accept my weaknesses before I can begin working on them.
- “It’s okay to seek help outside myself.” – When I accept my flaws and limitations, I recognize that sometimes I need to seek help outside of myself to get past difficult times in my life. I shouldn’t feel ashamed when I need to ask other people for help or assistance. A quarterback cannot win the game without the help of his other 10 teammates on the field. Find your team, lean on them when you need to.
- “I don’t need to prove myself all the time.” – When I cultivate humility, I’m less motivated to “prove myself” to others all the time. Instead, I’m comfortable accepting my flaws and weaknesses, because I understand they are part of being human. I’m secure enough in myself and the value I place upon myself that I do not others approval to validate my self-worth.
- “I play a small role in a much bigger picture.” – Life is bigger than just “me.” My life is a product of many years of evolution, culture, relationships, and tradition. To live my life fully means I acknowledge that I play a small role in a much bigger picture.
When you accept that you will never be perfect, then you realize that self-growth and self-improvement are a never-ending struggle that everyone faces. We all have limitations, crutches, and unhelpful desires and instincts.
Humble people are still self-successful; they just don’t feel the desire to boast about themselves but instead, let their actions speak for their ideals. To be humble is not to think less of oneself, but to think of oneself…less.
Think about that last line.
“Humility is not denying your strengths. Humility is being honest about your weaknesses”.
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