Catherine Anaya

Happy Humility Day

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With love and valentines in the air this month, I was tempted to write a flowery essay on love, but decided to ditch the cliché for a subject I’ve been grappling with lately: humility.

If you look up the word humility in the dictionary, you’ll find it defined as “modesty; a low view of one’s own importance.”

That struck me as odd, because I’ve often considered people with a sense of humility as the complete opposite: strong folks who are secure enough with themselves that they are unafraid to admit to and apologize for their mistakes; to accept constructive criticism without arrogance; and to willingly delve deep enough to figure out how to learn from a setback and move forward.

I’m a person of deep pride – and swallowing it isn’t simple. I’ve hurt and have been hurt and can sometimes give off an air of overconfidence or self-importance. Couple that with a high-profile career, and it’s hard to convince anyone that I’m a woman of insecurities with a constant fear of failure.

Those emotions only seem to heighten when I’m handed something I truly care about, and in some cases, have actually produced the opposite result of what I had intended. In other words, my fear of losing something has at times produced actions that end up sabotaging the very thing I was trying so hard to maintain.

That’s where humility comes in.

I recently made a horrible mistake that hurt someone near and dear to me. I’m harder on myself than anyone, so forgiving myself will take a very long time – if I’m able to do it at all. But I do believe I’m worthy of forgiveness from others when I’m able to face my failure with humility.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Humility shouldn’t be about feeling less than human. Humility should be about bravely admitting you are human, capable of error and even more capable of accepting the consequences that follow, however difficult they may be.

I came across an article adapted from a book about how humility can actually become a source of strength, with suggestions about how to actually practice the art of humility:

1. Try at times to just stop talking and let the other person take the limelight (I talk for a living so I expect this will take some getting used to).

2. Try speaking the words, “You are right.”

3. Humbly ask others, “How am I doing?” and then humbly consider the answer.

As of this writing, I’ve yet to learn if my humility will repair any of the damage my actions have caused. But like with so many other painful experiences I’ve endured, I’ve learned something invaluable about myself and what improvements I can make.

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