"Humility involves knowing your limits, and having appreciation for the intentions, strengths and perspectives of others."
-- Robert Dilts and Judith DeLozier, "The Encyclopedia of Systemic Neuro-Linguistic Programming and NLP New Coding": Subject: Integrity
Is Humility A Gain or A Loss?
Why would humility be desirable? To many people, it isn't. Webster's Third International Dictionary defines 'humility' as "the quality or state of being humble"; and it defines 'humble' as "having a low opinion of one's own importance or merits: modest or meek in spirit, manner, or appearance."
Some of those descriptions might sound uncomfortably similar to 'self-effacing', 'being a wallflower', lacking self confidence, low self esteem, an inability to be proactive or show up and participate fully in life.
Webster's definition, however, deletes some important dimensions of 'humility' which may shine a more appealing light. Let's take a look at some of them now.
Consider the power of scientific humility -- not claiming to know what one does not know. This form of humility was, and continues to be, essential in the creation of new inventions, the discovery of principles which have applications that have improved the life of any human being who has had access to them: electricity, refrigeration, water purification, steel, glass, plumbing and medicine, to name just a few.
All of these advances rest firmly on a foundation of a type of humility which is not so much "meek in spirit" as it is clearly honest about what is known and not known, paving the way for curiosity which leads to discovery and invention. Scientific humility is a powerhouse.
Consider spiritual humility -- the recognition of a context greater than our own individual ego. Interestingly enough, it is this type of humility which provides the firmest foundation for self-trust and self-confidence.
If we each do not have to be the end-all and be-all of everything in our lives, that is, the highest context to which we can refer, it takes a great deal of pressure off. There is a greater force at work, whatever name we give to it. It is that greater context that gives our individual selves perspective, and the ability to consider positive humility.
If we can allow ourselves the self-empowered humility of simply being who we are -- not having to be more than that to be 'good enough', and allow there to be contexts greater than our own, individuated sense of "I"... .perhaps then we can accept ourselves with all of our imperfections, even while we maintain the freedom to move forward along our own path of development.
We gain an ease in our own skin, so to speak, and can let go of the greatest undermining factor to self-confidence: pretense.
What a relief it is, no longer to have to put on an act, to worry that we will be found out, that someone will see through us. Spiritual humility frees us to be appropriately and naturally confident in ourselves and our place of belonging in the world.
Consider interpersonal humility -- seeing others on the same level as ourselves, not above or below. With interpersonal humility, we can allow others to be different from us in their attributes, capabilities, beliefs and accomplishments, because underlying it all is a recognition of fundamental human co-equality.
This kind of humility allows us to know ourselves from the inside-out, rather than attempting to construct our self knowledge by comparing ourselves with others. Knowing ourselves from within, we are free to be. We are free to be incomparable and unique. And free to allow others their own unique qualities which can be appreciated on their own, and from which we may be able to learn and model new learnings and capabilities.
At the same time, this type of humility allows us to recognize that others' ideas about who we are, or who we should be, belong to them, not to us.
Others are free to have their own ideas about us, and we are free to stand on our own, independent of their ideas, free to design and enact and live our own present and future. We are the ones who maintain our own dignity, not someone else.
Humility is the foundation of this personal power which rests in the fact that we are not pretending to be anything or anyone we are not. It is a quiet power, an unshakeable power. A peaceful power. An active power. No sheer external force can, or ever has, overcome the power of humility. Countless historical examples have proven this principle.
Humility plus dignity, together, make a natural pair, a solid foundation for integrity and healthy interpersonal boundaries.
The Doors to Wonder
Humility opens the doors of perception to wonder. When we can allow ourselves to be connected, just as we are, to this incredible, vibrating, living, interconnected universe, it unveils such riches and marvels before us that we are immediately and deeply enlivened. The wealth of the world around us, when our eyes are opened by humility, offers itself to us in profound abundance. We look with wonder, inspired to take part in it, grateful, enthusiastic. At once humbled and invigorated.
Genuine humility, then, allows us to fully participate in the joy of life, in proactively moving forward, unencumbered by the inherent self-doubts that arise from pretense, from having to show someone that we are who we are not, from having to prove that we belong here. We are here. We thrive.
How to Build Humility?
With so many benefits that humility offers, it would seem to make sense to adopt at least some features of this virtue. But how do we go about building it?
We can begin by checking our beliefs. Strangely enough, if we believe that we are not good enough in some fundamental way, or that we have to do something to earn love, or have to be someone who we are not in order to be accepted, then humility and all of its benefits are obstructed.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but the opposite of humility is not self-confidence. Rather, it is low self-esteem.
After all, if we believe that we are inherently not good enough, we have created a split: an internal self who is not good enough; and another internal self who is in a superior position to judge. Which us is which? How many us's are there? Is the judging us really superior to the judged us? Where is the humility of the us who judges us to be not good enough?
We can see how easy it is to get confused. To be inferior is to be superior at the same time.
It might seem a discouraging scenario, but there is some very good news here.
All of this negative self-perception and self-judgment is nothing more than mental patterns which can be changed. If we have excellent tools like NLP, we can eliminate the confusion, get our parts together, and get on with an excellent life.
So the question is worth asking: If limiting beliefs, or internal splits, are actively operating within ourselves, what is our intention? Do we intend to just live with it, or do we intend to get clear and move ahead with a wonderful life, a life we perhaps never dared to consider before?
Limiting Beliefs Can Be Changed.
It is worth noting that we can change any limiting belief, no matter how long we have held it, no matter what our reason or experience for acquiring it. We can change it working with a qualified NLP Master Practitioner.
The most important question is, really, do we want to change it?
What would have to be taken care of before we could have permission to change it appropriately?
These are subjects of powerful explorations in NLP Training, Coaching and Therapy sessions. They do not take years. Nor are they instant solutions. In fact, for most people these explorations are freeing, enjoyable, and take only months to resolve.
Having changed limiting beliefs about ourselves, our path is clear to bring life-enhancing new resources into action in our future.
NLP's ability to "map across" resources -- that is, to find reference experiences in which a resource is present, either in our own past or present, or in the experiences or capabilities of others -- represents an incredibly powerful tool for building mental states that are resourceful and persistent.
Our brains are so good at creating associations and constructing constellations of experience, that we can 'texture' any state with resources from another, creating a new state by design.
For example, if we look at a state of anger, we might ask: what would it be like if instead of being self-righteous anger, we could make it calm anger? Or humorous anger? Or appropriately sized anger? Or appropriately contextualized anger? What would that be like?
In NLP, we don't simply ask these questions; we try them on, we experience them; and from our experiences we find answers and new ways of being.
Our internal states are capable of such rich variations. What a wonderful capability it is to be able to design and texture our own states with NLP in ways that enhance our life, our sense of self-ease, our relationships, and our moment to moment experience.
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