By Haley Kennedy, Recovery Coach – 7.30.2021 –
Humility is simply having a realistic sense of oneself – meaning seeing ourselves as “right-sized”.
In recovery, humility gives us the willingness to surrender our ego, false pride, arrogance, and low self-esteem. With that, we gain the courage to be vulnerable, which allows us to seek help or guidance from others, and to practice trust beyond ourselves. Practicing humility in our recovery makes us better listeners, learners and allows us to examine ourselves without shame or judgment. It enables us to see the need for and to embrace change. It helps us build the bridge to freedom from our self-imposed isolation just by revealing our true humanity.
Humility is difficult for most human beings; it requires a secure sincerity, a self-love, compassion and emotional maturity that’s often absent, particularly in those of us with a history of substance use. When we lack humility, we can unintentionally disrespect and hurt others or we can end up humiliating ourselves. The hard thing about practicing humility is that most of us want to feel that we have some kind of power or importance in our own lives, and lowering our importance goes against what is natural to us. Because of this, some of us mistake humility for low self-esteem.
In reality, with humility we learn how to separate our self-esteem from our personal traits, physical appearance, wealth, level of education, assets, shortcomings, or our past. We develop a perspective that we are equal with everything and everyone; we are not better than anyone, and there is no one better than us.
When we practice humility, we find that we rarely feel self-conscious. We are able to take responsibility for ourselves as well as give credit where it is due. We develop stable self-esteem, are secure in who we are, and realize there is no need for competition or comparison.
5 Tips to Practice Humility
Be Kind – Random acts of kindness provide an opportunity to feel fulfilled and connected to others. When we practice kindness, we validate ourselves without boasting. We know what we have done kindly and that’s enough; there is no pride and ego to get in the way.
Be Grateful – Think about all the great things you like about yourself and be thankful. Practicing gratitude for the gifts we have been given helps us recognize our great qualities and assets without bragging about them.
Be Unique – Don’t compare yourself to other human beings. Doing so can allow others to influence your behavior, or steal your joy. We are diverse individuals with different talents and gifts, and it is our differences that allow us to learn from each other.
Be Teachable – Some say that true humility is staying teachable, regardless of how much you already know. Realizing we don’t know everything provides us with limitless opportunities for growth in our recovery.
Be Free – Let go of expectations. It doesn’t matter how amazing we are at making plans, predicting outcomes or how adamant we are in our beliefs – life is bound to put a spoke in our wheel. We set ourselves up for frustration, disappointment, anger, resentment and humiliation when we hang onto expectations. When we let go of expectations and begin to take ourselves and life less seriously, we are better able to handle what life throws at us.
Recovery is defined as a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential. Practicing humility allows us to focus on our self-growth in that process, and reminds us that the only person we should try to be better than… is the person we were yesterday.