Humility is the ability to know ones own worth without comparing it to others. It is a deep love and respect for the self but with the ego set aside. When we let our ego control our self worth we use comparison as a tool: “look how bad that person is, see, I am a good person”? Or conversely, “that person is so wonderful, I wish I could be as good as them.” Humbleness states “I know my strengths and weaknesses, and that is fine”. There is no comparison to others, just calm and simple self respect. When we meet someone who has a skill we lack we honour them because we know it doesn’t make them better than us. When someone is nasty we are not harmed by them and we do not judge them because we know that we too have the ability to be nasty and we see the hurt person inside.
For me, learning this balance is a life long journey that I will be walking for some time yet. Coming from a place of deep self hate and low self esteem it is a long and rocky road. It started by understanding that not everyone hates themselves like this, and was closely followed by a second helping of self hate when I realised that I even failed at something that looked as simple as loving myself.
The journey brings the highs of realising that other people are less perfect than me and the deep valleys of realising that that simple comparison is also a failure. There are the pendulum swings between “I am terrible” and “I am amazing” that never seem to pass through “I am enough” for long enough for me to understand how to stay there.
I started to emulate others, only to realise that was fake and would give a veneer of “ok” that would crumble as soon as it was tested. I tried comparing myself with others so I could pitch myself on a league table of “goodness” until I saw that this was simply my ego taking control again. And so the journey continues.
This week put me in a situation where I was given the chance to stay in that sweet spot for just a moment. I won’t go into details but I experienced what I believe was someone else going through a similar pendulum swing. A person I believe is insecure who was acting the big guy to hide it.
Now, the ego would say “look at you, I see through your bullshit and bravado and see the small scared child underneath. I am so much better than you”. This would be the me that is also the small scared child acting the big guy to hide it. Instead I thought “oh wow, they’re pretending to be big and strong so we don’t see the small child. I could choose to judge or I could choose compassion”
The ego is still there, niggling, telling me how easy it would be to scorn this person for trying to pretend that they are amazing. But, because there is also the balance of understanding that I too have the same habits. I have hope that this shows I have made some progress.
I also had the chance of an ego boost for the simple fact that I saw what was going on with both of us, and you know what, I’m gonna take it. Learning humility isn’t about accepting how rubbish I am, it’s about learning that there are things I am good at and celebrating them.
This is a winding path that forces me to take a cruel look at who I really am and what it really going on. It shows when my ego had puffed up its chest to protect the rubbish little girl and there is no hiding from it. The path is so narrow, an abyss of self hate ever present by my side but I am determined to walk it and find the true me that I can love and respect.