Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Humbly asked

I have a sponsee who seems to not quite comprehend what humility means. He insists that he is right about so much. He recants stories to me about how he lost his last job, only to carry the same argumentative, defensive behavior over into a new job. Even when there is no point in arguing, he likes to get the last word in.

I don't think that I fully understood humility either until I got the necessary emotional flailing that helped me to finally begin to see there was another way. For me, I had to experience enough discomfort with what I was doing that change became necessary. I wasn't going to be humble if I clung to arrogance and self-righteousness.

Humility is a precious thing because it goes hand in hand with gratitude and serenity. I had relied so long on my own self-sufficiency that it was difficult to let my defenses down enough to even think about being humble. But once I came to believe that I could no longer carry my life's burdens by myself, I was willing to have a new way of thinking that included humility.

Humility isn't a negative quality, and it doesn't equate to humiliation. For me, it is an awareness of my shortcomings balanced with a sense of pride in my achievements. I have decided that simple awareness of who I am is humbling.

I have used my isolation, my being better than or less than, and my fear to assign blame. I can see that my sponsee has the same thoughts. It is easier to blame others than to admit that I may have shortcomings. But none of that brought me any peace or greater understanding of happiness. I could not manipulate my way through life to get my way.

I am glad to have reached a place where I no longer have to constantly defend my position. Instead I see how I can be more useful to others. And that is something that generates a lot of good feelings about me and living life.

“Humbly’ means seeing myself in true relation to my fellow man and to God.” - Lois’ Story


  1. Awesome post, Syd. I used to equate humility with humiliation, didn't understand the power and grace in humility.

  2. to be humble for me is to see things just as they are. not to add to a situation to make it bigger then it is and not to take away from something to make it any less important. I heard an addict in a meeting say to be humble is to be 'right sized'.

    for addicts we can blow anything out of proportion. to practice humility takes great diligence and for this addict it takes talking with others to understand it better.

    great post.

  3. You explained this perfectly! One of my favorites.

  4. I've often worked with un-humble medical students. They know all, and it's never their fault. :) It's hard to be open to these cocky students and what they might have to offer me, when they are so closed to what I have to offer them. I've approached these students with curiosity & humility of my own - what can I learn from this situation? - and care. Slowly we have opened up to each other. After time they usually seem willing to trust that I might know more than them about some things. And I have learned that I can enjoy getting to know even the cocky young HotRods... It's that third step over and over again.

  5. As someone who could "do a good humble" my whole life, I confused my act and self-deprecating humor with humility until I got sick enough (in the rooms of AA) to realize a whole different outlook on life. I hope your friend gets a solution before he causes major damage to himself and others.

    Blessings and aloha...

  6. If not for humility, I would never have learned a darn thing.


  7. Wow, well put. Sure making me look at myself. You just gave me my topic for the meeting I am chairing thanks

  8. You're right. The minute I think I have humility, I don't have it. Elusive.


  9. Thank you for another thought-provoking post.
    It makes so much sense. I'm not sure if everyone finds it though unfortunately.

  10. I love the saying you have here, its so true.

    I think humility is especially hard for young people. Its a hard thing to learn something that sets a person apart. I saw it as one of your qualities when I first started reading here. I think that's one of the reasons people are drawn to you and therefore open to hearing your valuable input.

  11. The Big Book or the 12x12 (Brain fart) calls it "being right-sized.
    I have always loved that I in the hands of my Creator become just the right size.

  12. Your sponsee thinks he's always right? Likes to have the last word? Hmmm. Sounds like an Al-Anon to me. At least those sure sound a lot like my own character defects. Attaining humility is hard IMHO.

  13. humility is beautiful in people!

  14. Great post .. it can be such a difficult thing to achieve .. you describe it perfectly x

  15. That accurate unsentimental perspective.

  16. 'tis good to experience humility in my life today... nice post Syd!

  17. I'm thankful that life, using the results of my own behaviours, has a way of changing us, making us the right size. In the hands of a Master Potter.

    Wonderful post.

  18. I know that you have the true sense of humility in you just by reading your posts. Your sponsees are lucky to have you.
    BTW... I will think of you tomorrow as I drive down 1-95 to Florida and bypass Charleston !

  19. Nice post, Syd. I liked it a lot.

    Love, SB.

  20. Well said. My flailing continues, my learning where humility is found continues, my recovery continues, and the blessings continue... despite me.

    Thanks for this!

  21. I know for me, when I get a little too big for my britches, my HP reaches for a 2x4 to knock some sense into my head (metaphorically, of course). I'm learning more quickly these days :-D


  22. The person of superior integrity does not insist upon his integrity;
    For this reason, he has integrity.
    The person of inferior integrity never loses sight of his integrity;
    For this reason, he lacks integrity.

    The person of superior integrity takes no action,
    nor has he a purpose for acting.
    The person of superior humanness takes action,
    but has no purpose for acting.

    The person of superior righteousness takes action,
    and has a purpose for acting.
    The person of superior etiquette takes action,
    but others do not respond to him;
    Whereupon he rolls up his sleeves
    and coerces them.

    When the Way is lost,
    afterward comes integrity.
    When integrity is lost,
    afterward comes humanness
    When humanness is lost,
    afterward comes righteousness.
    When righteousness is lost,
    afterward comes etiquette.

    Etiquette is the attenuation of trustworthiness,
    and the source of disorder.
    Foreknowledge is but the blossomy ornament of the Way,
    and the source of ignorance.
    For this reason,
    The great man resides in substance,
    not in attenuation.
    He resides in fruitful reality,
    not in blossomy ornament.

    He rejects the one and adopts the other.

    -Tao Te Ching 1 (38)


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