I’ve been thinking quite a bit about those character traits that both perpetrate and perpetuate the need for introspection, communion and connection… if I were perfect, there would be no need for any of these, so I give thanks that I’m not perfect! That said, I’ve been thinking about my own definitions of humbleness versus humility, and how they intertwine in my own experience. One leads to compassion, while the other stems from ego. Both lead to valuable lessons.
What’s the difference between being humble and experiencing humility? Humility is a state of feeling less than, low self-worth and esteem, and shame that usually stems from something we are doing that we don’t approve of in others; or in other words, eating crow. Humbleness is quiet grace through whatever circumstances are thrown at you. Gratitude creates, requires, and sustains humbleness. And gratitude is a process that continues to deepen with time and experience. Personally, I’d rather have the humble pie.
However, I’ve been eating a lot of crow as of late, so I’ve put myself back on a diet. A diet from complaining. Complaining is rarely helpful. Sometimes it is necessary to vent, or to process things verbally, but for me, complaining leads to a negative outlook and victim thinking when left unchecked. When others complain to me, I listen long enough to see where they are coming from, then redirect what I can with a simple question: What are you doing about it? Needless to say, I have little empathy for those who are not willing to be a part of the solution. So when I find myself heading down that road, it’s time for a reality check and diet.
Life doesn’t always turn out the way we want, or even expect (for the pessimists in the crowd). Ok. Like many other concepts in life, I’ve known this on an intellectual level, but often struggle to live in the depths of understanding this on a soul level. I often find that I have created new (or sometimes recycled) circumstances in my own life in which to re-learn and reinforce that lesson. In the warming days of early spring, life and death intertwine in a seductive dance, creating a new focus for my spirit to investigate. So far, the investigation has been relatively superficial, but I am feeling a level of connection that I had begun to lose in the midst of the separation that often accompanies righteous (especially self-righteous or self-centered) thinking.
Thankfully, the lessons that we recycle are learned on deeper levels, given new meaning, and give us a sense of other-centered thinking, rather than self-centered. It is here that we find our humility… through compassion for ourselves and others as we open our eyes to the reflections we see. This allows us to digest some of those character traits in ourselves and find new patience for them in others, and allows us to step back in to a proactive state of being, instead of reactive.
Taking current events into context, it is easy to rest on our laurels and vent via humor, which is a fine line between complaining and creating awareness. The more we spread it around without doing something proactive and positive, the more we are both perpetrating and perpetuating the problem. We essentially become the cause of that which we are complaining about through apathy thinly disguised as wit and humor. That isn’t to say that these don’t have their rightful place, but in this new world dominated by social media, spreading the latest witticisms without actively engaging in the political process (especially in ways that are reminiscent of that which we balked at a few short years ago from the opposition) becomes a distraction from the activism necessary to create change.
I tried the no-complaint fast for three months last year, and it completely changed my outlook on all of the insanity in the world. It renewed my sense of purpose, brought me out of my self-consciousness and self-centeredness, and helped me take the next step in my own evolution. So it appears to be that time again, to focus on the first of the Four Agreements, Be Impecable With Your Word, and to stop complaining.
I’m looking forward to dessert.