“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” ~Ernest Hemingway
Recently I was invited to listen to a recorded presentation about humility, and it literally rocked my world.
As I listened intently, the words “complete and whole” popped into my head. And then came the light bulb moment: “Yes!” I thought. “When one feels whole and complete, they’re more humble.”
As the presenter talked about the “look at me” culture of selfies and social media I felt my toes begin to curl and my stomach tighten.
“Oh look, there’s you posting with your plate of food. And the next day, there’s you posting a picture of you on the beach. And then the next day, there’s you posting a picture of you and someone you just met. Has your face changed from one day to the next? Because if not, I promise I haven’t forgotten what you look like.”
Those examples were funny at first, until I realized I haven’t always been that humble, whole person that I’ve aspired to be. The most recent example of my own “look at me” behavior, the one posted to all of my social media apps, paraded itself in front of me: a before and after side-by-side of me now and forty-five pounds heavier.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to diminish that accomplishment in any way, or suggest it’s wrong to share our successes. I’m super proud, but the issue is why I took to social media:
I needed that external validation that I’d done some good work. I needed that external “stuff” to help me feel whole and complete. I wanted those “thumbs up” and the “You look amazing!” comments to make me feel good.
For a moment it did, but it wasn’t long lasting. What I was looking for needed to come from something and somewhere much deeper and more important than the number of likes or comments received.
The Lesson in My “Look at Me” Behavior
As I replayed the presenter’s words days later it all started to make sense. The lack of humility, for me, equated to the lack of wholeness and completeness I’ve sometimes felt.
But here was the real lesson…
If I can’t be my own cake (whole and complete), compliments and likes, which are really just icing, don’t have anywhere to sit. Which means their impact is going to be fleeting and short-lived.
And whether the comments are good, bad, or indifferent, not being whole and complete within myself is most likely going to lead to more “look at me” behavior. It has the potential of becoming a perpetually draining loop that I want no part of.
Using Humility to Be the Best Version of Me
Humility has now become my gauge and my trigger. If I’m not being humble, that’s my “nod” that I need to do some inner “tweaking.”
So, to leverage my own humility, here is what I’ve been doing. As a result of these changes, I’ve compared myself to others less, I’ve felt more grounded, and the best result, I’ve felt more whole and complete with who I am and what I do.
Feeling my worth, not proving it
I don’t have to prove my worth to anyone, ever! I have to own it by being proud of the things I do and the person I am and sitting with those feelings and enjoying them.
As an example, if I give to a person in need, I can sit with the awesome feelings that giving produces without taking to social media and posting about it. (e.g.: Today, I gave money to this homeless man in the picture so he could buy some lunch.)
Humbly celebrating success
I’m a big fan of celebrating successes because a) it feels good and b) it builds up “I can do it” evidence for future projects and goals. When it comes to celebrating success, however, I’m reminded of this quote from Criss Jami, “The biggest challenge after success is shutting up about it.”
So, I take to my journal and write down my successes instead of posting about them. That way I can re-read them any time I need a little boost.
Some of the coolest people I know are the ones who own their successes without flaunting them. And they use their successes not as a “look at me” device but to inspire others and help them succeed as well.
Reining in the old ego
I’ve turned the word “ego” into an acronym that stands for:
E = Edging
G = Goodness
O = Out
Basically, when I’m disconnected from whatever grounds me, makes me feel good, and keeps me centered I’m more prone to lack, fear, and “look at me” behavior, which all come from the ego. So, anytime I am depleted, that is when I’m more apt to look outward, like to social media, for ways to make me feel good about myself.
One of the best ways to rein in the old ego is to do something self-care related. For example, I’ll meditate, take some deep breaths, or soak in a hot bath. This always recharges me, leaving me less susceptible to “look at me” behavior.
Now It’s Your Turn
At the end of the day, humility is awesome! It enables us to create a sense of wholeness from within instead of constantly seeking validation from other people. It helps us create a connection with ourselves and others. And it prevents us from draining ourselves and the people we care about with attention-seeking behavior..
So, my friends, I just have one simple question to ask you: How are you going to engage your own humility to feel more whole and complete?