“Humility is not thinking less about yourself, it is thinking less of yourself” C S Lewis
Humility and inner peace go hand in hand. The less compelled you are to prove yourself to others, the easier it is to feel peaceful inside. However, ask yourself the question, how often are you trying to prove yourself in front of others?
Humility makes us aware of our personal limitations and the limitations of humanity more broadly. We acknowledge that there is much we do not know, that certainty is impossible and that our understandings of the world are provisional at best. Humility opens us to growth and love and to accept change where necessary by going with the ‘flow’ as a normal everyday occurrence. We most certainly do not need to be anyone else other than true self.
Proving yourself can be a dangerous trap. It takes an enormous amount of energy to be continually pointing out to others about your accomplishments, bragging or even trying to convince others of your worth as a human being. Bragging actually dilutes the positive feelings you receive from an accomplishment or something you are proud about. To make matters worse, the more you try to prove yourself, the more others will want to avoid you, talk behind your back about your insecure need to brag and at worst perhaps even resent you.
I personally got to learn about humility following my abortive attempt with a colleague to row across the Indian Ocean nearly 15 years ago. We did alright, in that we rowed unsupported for almost 2000 nautical miles from Western Australia en route to Africa, until a tropical storm damaged both me and the boat. This meant we had to stop and abandon our world record attempt. Up until that point, I will admit, I was full of it – telling the media and anyone else in my earshot how great a feat this was, and therefore how great I was! And that lack of humility lasted after we returned to the UK, and accompanied me throughout the next couple of years giving public talks and chatting to friends and strangers alike. Then one day, I realised that I was fooling myself and started to look at the deeper messages of that expedition and how they had changed my outlook on life. Lessons like tolerance, awareness of the world around me and a good dose of humility developed my inner being and ultimately my inner happiness.
Ironically, however, the less you care about seeking approval, the more approval you seem to get. People are drawn to those with a quieter, inner confidence, people who don't need to look good, be ‘right’ all the time or steal glory. Most people love a person who doesn’t need to brag, a person who shares from his or her heart and not from their ego.
The way to develop genuine humility is to practice. Practicing is good because you get immediate inner feedback in a way of calm, easy feelings – in other words you feel good about yourself. The next time you have the temptation to brag about something, resist it. Instead, listen hard to what the other person is saying and calm your inner talk.
So, when we are humble, we can laugh at our self importance and sometimes, even set it aside. We can see our own faults and the strengths of others, and we recognize how much we have been given, unearned. It is but one step in finding out more about yourself and finding an inner peace that leads to a much happier being.