Learning To Live With Humility

The Biggest Blocking Point May Be Us

A life of humility. A lifetime spent lowering the perception of your worth and putting others before you.

Wow, how impossible a task is that?

Well, it’s not impossible, but typically it takes a lifetime of practice, and even then, we may never truly hit the mark. I know I rarely hit the mark, and I wonder if I ever will.

Admittedly, I’m egocentric, proud, sometimes boastful, just a bit self-centered, hate asking for help and always want more than what I have.

Uh, who is this guy?

Unfortunately, that guy is me. I would genuinely love to admit to all of you that I’m a seriously humble dude, but I consider myself more humble-ish. I try to practice all the known steps toward attaining that almost biblical mindset of humility, but I ain’t no saint.

Oh Lord, far from it.

Sinner, Sinner, Chicken Dinner.

Over the weekend, I was browsing the internet a bit (a lot) and stumbled across a piece on SkillsYouNeed about humility. Wow, talk about an eye-opener. Basically, there are six essential skills one needs to adopt and instill in their daily practice to reach a real state of humility — that vaulted state of modest, unpretentious living.

Only six? Who knew?

One of the first things that jumped out at me was the practice of learning how to place other’s needs at the first of the line instead of at the tail end.

When I read that, I instantly thought of all those d*mned thoughtless line cutters, you know the ones, the ungrateful b*stards. Ooops. There went my humility right out the window.

But putting other’s needs before your own doesn’t mean we have to lower our perceptions of ourselves. We should never be willing to accept a station in life where we become the official Human doormat everybody wipes their feet on.

As a former president once said, “uh, uh. not gonna do it.”

It’s important to understand that we aren’t, nor will we ever be, better than anyone else and reciprocally them better than us.

My dear old granddad used to tell me, “all those people dress the same way you do.”

You know, we all put our pants and skirts on pretty much the same way. Of course, that’s another metaphorical way of saying even though we’re unique creatures, we still adopt many of the same habits.

And we’re all seeking the same kind of self-gratification to many of the more base desires we Humans experience. Keep in mind, some of us have tendencies (Yeap, that’s me) to pursue these desires a lot more aggressively than maybe we should, which attributes to that all-about-me attitude.

Human nature is often a harda*sed creature to wrangle and tame.

So, apparently, the trick to this humility thing is learning to have self-esteem and assertiveness without all the aggression and getting pissed off at everyone all the time.

But it’s always been said the early bird gets the worm and it’s a dog eat dog world. That’s how we’re going to make it in this world right?

Unfortunately, these types of attitudes automatically lend themselves to fighting to be at the top of the heap, first in line, the best of the best. But to be humble, genuinely humble, we must try and find a way to get rid of aggressively thinking if we don’t take care of ourselves, no one else will.

The problem with that is most times, no one else will.


Earlier I said the SkillsYouNeed article listed six activities to practice to reach an actual state of humility. A lot of them have been mentioned by our brother and sisters in some really fantastic articles, so think of this as kind of a refresher course, a gentle nudge for all of us.

You know, a kind, thoughtful prodding in the right direction.

Read the d*mned below y’all.

  • Spend time listening to others.
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Be grateful for what you have
  • Ask for help when you need it
  • Seek feedback frequently
  • Review your prideful actions

Listening to others. Do we listen to others, but hear what we want to hear? Instead of listening to what someone is actually telling us, are we merely choosing our next set of words we want to throw out there? I think a lot of us have a tendency to practice this type of listening.

But spending time listening to others means really listening. Not only hearing the words but understanding the meaning, the true meaning of what others are trying to tell us.

Practicing mindfulness is a whole new ball game for me, and I’m sure for a lot of folks as well. As a writer, I often go through the exercise of berating myself for either doing a poor job or not hitting my goals as fast as I want or need to.

I’m always pushing myself to improve, and that’s a good thing, but when I start tearing myself up because I haven’t developed fast enough, that’s when the trouble begins.

Achieving mindfulness means learning to reconcile with the fact that as a Human, we have faults. Some faults really irritating to ourselves and others, and some merely quirky and mundane.

We have faults. Everybody has them.

That’s where the old adage, “it is what it is,” comes into play. Learning to accept our faults and not beating ourselves to death because of them is the first step toward mindfulness.

Of course, my boss hates it when someone says “it is what it is”. He prefers “it is what you make it”.

My guess is, he’s having a bit of trouble with this whole mindfulness thing.

One of the easier, and at the same time challenging, aspects of humility is training ourselves to be grateful for what we have. This does not mean you can’t strive for more if you want to.

It simply means learning to live in the Now and being grateful for the roof over your head (if you have one) or food in your tummy (if you’ve just enjoyed a good meal) and a viable means of income (if you have that).

Years ago, before I had a real brain, I complained to my boss that the four percent increase in my pay wasn’t even enough to cover the necessary costs of living increases.

He simply said, “be glad you have a job.”

His answer pissed me off at the time, but in hindsight, I should have been glad. I should have been grateful as h*ll that I still had a viable means of paying my bills and taking care of my family.

It’s only now I realize how much I’ve taken huge blessings in my life for granted.

Asking for help is another aspect of humility, and one I simply suck at. Though I try to convince myself I’m not an overly prideful person, the mere fact I hate asking for help shows the entire world just how prideful I am.

I hate (okay, dislike immensely) the way I always feel inferior when I ask for help. It doesn’t matter whether it’s when I write (especially when I write) or performing a menial task that I should know how to do.

Of course, that’s that old pride monster working its devious magic on my a*s. But a large part of humility is recognizing when you need help and having the courage to ask for it.

Maybe one day I’ll get it.

Surprisingly (to me), seeking feedback from others is a strong suit of mine. I have no problems asking someone for their opinion on how much I suck. Over the years, I’ve learned to accept constructive criticism (yes, even with my writing). Editors do it to me all the time.

It’s called rejection.

But I’ve also learned to throw out garbage opinions of those who are pissed off because I’m doing it better than they are.

It doesn’t mean I’m better than they are. I’m just doing it better than they are. It’s a big difference.

The last step toward humility is often somewhat subjective in nature. Reviewing your prideful actions and giving yourself a vanity check most times isn’t something we do unconsciously.

It’s because there are times when we all want and need to be proud of ourselves and our achievements. The pride of successfully completing a task is what helps us move forward.

However, the trouble comes when we let our pride run unfettered as we co-mingle with other Humans on this tiny spinning orb of ours.

Although our actions should always speak louder than our words, we often have a tendency to do just the opposite.

Speaking in braggadocious, snobbish vain manners about ourselves is undoubtedly off-putting, often sending the message that we don’t think we’re better than anyone else, we know we are.

Recognizing when we are speaking in a prideful manner and giving the reins on this galloping stallion of vanity a firm tug, goes a long way toward gaining humility.

It’s interesting to note living in a world full of Humans all making a mad dash in the direction of the golden ring takes a lot of stamina, self-awareness, and more than a handful of persistence and courage.

Over the years, most of us have been taught to be willing to fight for what we believe in. We’ve been trained to stand tall against the odds and not take any bulls*it from anyone or anything.

Unfortunately, very few of us have been taught how to be gracious and humble out of the gate.

But eventually, we learn.

We learn because we know to survive with a clear conscience and little regret, we need to help our fellow Humans learn how to survive as well.

Thank You So Much For Reading

Let’s keep in touch: paul@pgbarnett.com

© P.G. Barnett, 2020. All Rights Reserved.

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A published author enjoying married Texas bliss. Dog person living with cats. A writer of Henry James' stories. Featured In MuckRack. Top Writer In Fiction.

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