I have banged the drum of humility for some time now. For me, and many others, it is one of the most important virtues that need to be adopted and developed in recovery, if I am to lead a fuller, more serene life.
Here are just a few of the gifts I have received by practicing humility in my daily dealings.
- It opens my mind, allowing new information in to broaden my view of the world.
- It stops me fighting battles that I don’t need to win, creating more serenity in the mind.
- It calms me, which enables me to make more sane, informed and sensible choices.
- It makes me more approachable, making acceptance in my social environment a lot easier.
- It removes my stubbornness, pride and ego in situations where they don’t have a place.
- It makes me more caring, which fills the heart with love, not the usual hate I was pumped with in active addiction.
- It has taught me how to respect, love and appreciate myself.
I could go on. And what is even better is that humility is teachable, and therefore, learnable. Like everything else, we must consciously practice the virtue in our daily lives for it to be effective, but humility can be woven into the fabric of our being. Here are 5 humility practices that I try and incorporate into every day of my recovery life.
1. Actively listen to other people’s point of view
I was such a stubborn, dysfunctionally proud fool for so many years, I would staunchly stand behind any misguided views and fight it’s cause until…well, until nothing was ever achieved. I would ‘hear’ what other people had to say, but would only ‘listen’ to those who shared my opinion. It left me stagnant and, quite frankly, boring to the outside world. Make a conscious effort today to ‘listen’ to what others have to say. It’s not as easy as you think because, if you are like me, your brain automatically starts whirring in response mode before a person has even finished speaking, such was the need to quash, or even worse, enforce your view of them. This practice opens the mind, gives new perspectives, and whilst you don’t have to agree with another’s view, there is no harm in getting a better understanding of it.
2. Tend to others needs
Think more about your fellow man and woman. Try actively doing one good deed per day, for someone else, without any expectation of getting anything in return. Even if a ‘thank you’ isn’t forthcoming, it doesn’t matter, because whilst you are actively doing something for someone else, you are doing something for you too. You are opening your heart to the world around you. It could be as simple as making someone an unexpected cup of tea or taking time out of your busy schedule to help a friend that you know needs some attention, and listen – sometimes you don’t need to have answers, and you won’t, but the power of lending an undistracted ear to a friend can be incredible.
3. Admit mistakes and wrongdoings
One of my most obvious negative traits in my life is the inability to accept responsibility for mistakes that I have made. The easier ones to spot were the obvious, chaotic, drunken consequences of my actions, but when I analysed my thought processes more, I would constantly be making poor choices and judgements in all aspects of my life and then either defend them to the hilt or try and cover them up. Very rarely, if at all, did I put my hand up and say, ‘I have messed up here’. This was because my dysfunctional pride and ego were the virtues that I felt required my attention. Today, I try and admit a mistake to myself first, and then if required, to the people around me that my mistake my impact. It’s not easy, but trust me, you will feel a whole lot better in the middle to long run AND the world will respect you for it.
4. Swap Hate for Love
I cannot tell you how many times in a single day I get triggered to respond in a negative, judgemental way when confronted with someone who I believe hasn’t done something right, or is behaving irresponsibly, or is working against my wishes, or even someone on the tele or radio who says something I don’t agree with. It starts in the gut and rises to a crescendo just before being released from my body in the form of a condescending remark or self- righteous observation. The feeling and response come from a place of hate, means I create the craziest, toxic resentment for the most inconsequential cause. But when I change my view, when I feel the rumble in the tummy and decide to respond differently, with love for the person of my ire, not more hate, then something happens that sets me on a different, healthier and less invasive path. If I feel wronged, I try to send love not more wrong. I certainly haven’t perfected the art, but when I do actively practice this, I can see the result instantly. So, try it today, it will help with your calmness, acceptance of yourself and acceptance of others and, of course, your humility.
5. Spend some time with yourself
Whilst doing for others, don’t forget to look after yourself. One of the most indispensable tools that was suggested to me right from the start of my journey without substance was journaling. Now journaling isn’t for everyone, I get that. But to help with practicing your humility I suggest just getting a small notebook, put aside a minimum of 20 mins privacy, and jot down your honest review of your daily humility based activities. Observe and note the outcomes. Identify where you could have done things differently or better based on the 4 other suggested activities above. Congratulate yourself on your wins, don’t berate yourself for perceived losses but instead resolve to do things differently tomorrow. Pay attention to how your humble behaviours have impacted on the overall look and feel of the day. In time, and with some effort you will see just how far you have come, and how much calmer/ better you feel.
Do not put any time constraints or goals in place when carrying out humble activities to achieve your serenity. There is no end game, just a series of moments that can be influenced by you and how you perceive what is placed in front of you. But what you will see, in time, is those moments becoming increasingly special, surrounded by light and positivity. You will soon be amazed out how your humble actions positively impact the world that you occupy, and most importantly, how those same actions can help you.
If you want to know more about me you can download my story, Sully’s Story, free of charge here.
Have a humble day!!
Love Andrew xx