What Humility Is Not

A few Sundays ago we heard a running theme through the reading, gospel and homily–humility.  There are many people, great and unknown that talk about this theme, write about it, and preach it.   What made this so personal for me is because, like everyone, I struggle with the idea of inadequacy and not measuring up.  Constantly that inner critic rears its ugly head and I’m back at square one.


So let’s begin by talking about what humility is not.


Humility is not putting yourself down.  Belittling yourself, and thinking ill of yourself.  It’s not thinking that you are not special.  Instead one of the ways to think of humility is not thinking of yourself more, but thinking of yourself less.

Still don’t get it?  Okay, how about this: humility is accepting yourself, good, bad, ugly warts and all.  You accept every part of yourself and you are okay with it.  You accept the limitations that you have, and know when you have done your best.

These days, its not cool to be humble and to show our true vulnerable state and expose our flaws.  Now I’m not saying what we need to do as an online confession (that’s what the Sacrament of Reconciliation is for).  What I am saying that it is okay to show a work in progress.


Most of the time, we beat ourselves up because we are comparing ourselves with someone’s finished self.  A writer will sit down and write hoping to complete a book that’s on par with Jane Austin.  Meanwhile not remembering that it takes time and many drafts, edits, and of course tears, to get to that finished product.

A budding photographer will be so enthusiastic about taking pictures but will feel inadequate when they compare their work with someone who has been doing it for years.  They know they have just started, yet they expect their work to be on par (naturally) with others who have been practicing and perfecting their trade for years.  They have not accepted their level and abilities yet.

Deep down, we are no different.  We want and expect so much of ourselves that we constantly push and not allow ourselves to just be.  As we become wiser I hope that we all will grow a bit more humble.

Now this is the part where I’m supposed to give you sage life advice on how to become more humble.  I can’t because I am a work in progress (see, I’m being humble 🙂 ) What I can share is what is working for me today.

  • Stop comparing myself to others.  I mean it when I say that we can be our own worst enemies.  We can look at other people’s life, and wonder “Why aren’t I there yet?”  What we can do is look at others and learn from it.  Find out what we like, and don’t like, and figure out if what I’m comparing myself to is even healthy or right for me.  Not all comparison is bad, some actually do help us to be better people.
  • I always try to find things that I enjoy instead of listening to what’s wrong.  If its my  hobbies, parenting, or homeschooling, I can see if that will work for my family.  I find activities that not only I will enjoy, but will be enjoyed by those around me.  If those around me are only interested in being a downer, then my exposure to them is going to be limited.
  • Pray and ask for assistance.  I know I cannot do all these things myself.  I know that it requires strength to remind myself that at some point everyone goes through these things.  What we can all do is ask for wisdom to acknowledge  when we are in over our heads.


What are some ways you try to stay humble?

What Humility Is Not