"True love is but a humble, low born thing,
And hath its food served up in earthenware;
It is a thing to walk with, hand in hand,
Through the everydayness of this workday world."
~ James Russell Lowell
Humility is an important but often overlooked relational quality. It's commonly confused with self-deprecation or servility, but referring to its derivation from the Latin humus, meaning earth, reminds us that to be humble is to be grounded. It's human nature to project ourselves into the world with great force and purpose, but this stirring up of energy can dislocate our true self. When, in seeking power and pride, we present a false image of how we want to be rather than who we are, we receive back a false reflection from the world, which only incites us to more posturing.
To be humble enough to receive from others, we must first receive within. This act of self-love gives ourselves not just an appropriate amount of power and pride but, more importantly, lets us receive others' love. This is a tricky distinction. We try so hard to replace negative internal messages with positive messages, but unless we humbly receive them, we will continue to believe, and struggle desperately to disprove, the old ones.
One aspect of humility is knowing there are infinite things we'll never know. We have been so wrong in our self-assumptions, motives and beliefs. And if we can be wrong once, it's very likely we're still wrong in other as-yet-undiscerned ways. Our coping mechanisms may have served to protect us through childhood, but in adult relationships any self-defense will block the light of intimacy. Healthy, enlightened life constantly corrects itself. Respect for truth makes humility possible and gives us the ability to touch the authenticity of our actual inner earth, our groundedness. To share how we perceive rather than what we believe invites in the truth that we are still growing, still finding more about ourselves each day. What we will discover tomorrow requires the humility of self-renewal.
DAILY HEALTHY ACTS
- We receive our experience, including thoughts and knowledge. Receive with humility and gratitude. Today, try saying, "This thought came to me," rather than "I think this." The transparency to share your mental process as you experience it with another is an act of humility.
- Move from the narcissism that secretly says, "That's not me" to silently affirming, "I am that" with every situation that presents itself today. We truly contain all positive and negative potencies within us, so why point the finger? When we identify with others, we cease to be reactive and our ensuing humility illuminates us.