“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.
To be blunt if you want to succeed at anything, you will need to have a certain level of confidence. This does not mean that you need to boldly and fearlessly attack every aspect of life. There certainly may be areas where you lack confidence. You need to identify, however, the areas of life where you need to be confident in order to succeed.
The first thing you need to do is to identify where you need more confidence, and where you do not. For example, you maybe nervous of public speaking (most people are), and you need to get over those nerves in order to succeed. In this case, you will need to gain confidence in speaking in front of people. If you lack confidence in cooking a good meal however, that more than likely will not affect to your speaking ability. So, you need to identify where you need to gain confidence, and where a lack of confidence does not really matter. This does not mean however that you cannot gain confidence in other areas, though.
One of the dangers of a lack of confidence is that it can fuel failure. Failure then leads to decreased confidence, which leads to failure, which leads to well… you can see it is a self fulfilling circle. Lack of confidence and failure feed on each other, and they will drag you down. So, the first key to gaining confidence (could be obvious this one!) is to succeed rather than fail.
Your first successes do not need to be major successes. You just need to succeed at something to start lifting yourself up, and break out of the failure/lack of confidence cycle. Choose a small goal to achieve. It could be anything you want, and does not necessarily need to be seen by others – you just to pick on a goal that you want to achieve. Focus and set your mind on achieving this goal. Give yourself a realistic time frame, and then determine what you need to in order to succeed.
Once you achieve this goal, you will start to see that you can succeed. Keep setting yourself goals, and work towards achieving them. Success will lead to confidence, which will lead to more success, and so on. Before long, you will be able to attack those identified critical areas where you lack confidence. If you fear public speaking, you can now start working on that lack of confidence. Find mentors to help you along. Seek out someone who does it on a regular basis and watch them. In NLP we call this modelling - seeing, hearing and feeling what they are doing to be able to do what they do! Also find groups and organizations that deal with the specific area will help you to build confidence.
Do not confuse confidence with arrogance. Being confident is a good thing, being arrogant is a bad thing. Confidence is the idea that you can achieve something that you can succeed. Arrogance is the idea that you are better than others.
Confidence is the key to succeeding in any aspect of life. Whether you want to succeed in business, creative endeavours, fitness, weight loss or family, you need to have a certain degree of confidence. Start by setting yourself small goals, and find small successes. Build on those successes and you will find yourself gaining confidence in all areas of your life. Once you have confidence and success, then you can start helping those who lack confidence themselves. That's a great thing to be able to do!