Humility is often misunderstood. We all have some idea of what it is. So in this article, I share some of these meanings and what Caroline Myss teaches about humility.
Here are some definitions:
- Freedom from pride or arrogance (Merriam-Webster)
- The quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance (Oxford Dictionary)
- Someone who has humility is not proud and does not believe they are better than other people (Collins Dictionary)
- True humility is to recognize your value and others value while looking up. It is to see there is far greater than ourself into who we can become, who others can become, and how much more we can do and be (by HonourYourself – rated as top definition on Urban Dictionary)
- Remaining teachable, knowing that you do not have all the answers (Ryan Maffet on Urban Dictionary)
- Literally translates from every language to Keanu Reeves (from ISX on Urban Dictionary)
People may mistake humility for weakness and self-deprecation. In our culture of personality as Susan Cain has described in Quiet, we have probably further overlooked the value of humility. On the contrary, humility is not a weakness nor does it mean financially poor, living simply, or being quiet and introverted. We can be outrageously wealthy, abundant, extroverted, and enjoy a luxurious lifestyle.
Professor of Psychology Michael W Austin shares in this Psychology Today article that humility is a virtue that is both self- and other-regarding. “The humble person keeps her accomplishments, gifts, and talents in a proper perspective… and humble individuals are also oriented towards others, they value the welfare of other people and have the ability to ‘forget themselves’ as well, when appropriate.”
In her course Pebbles at the Well, Caroline Myss teaches that humility is the ultimate freedom. Because “no dark force can grab onto a humble person” – a humble person “wants nothing from the dark force.”
What does Caroline Myss mean by this?
A truly humble person is not tempted by and cannot be corrupted by dark forces of fear. A humble person does not lose power that happens when people feel a need to trade it for security. This person does not feel compelled to ego-battle – to insist their worldview as the truth and to impose their beliefs on others.
Because a humble person does not need “any part of your beliefs” to validate their own beliefs or reality. Or to feel good. They are secure in who they are. They believe and see the big vision of who they really are, unburdened by fear, resentment, and illusion.
So contrary to humility being low self-esteem, it is really a healthy sense of self. This is a person who’s probably gone through dark nights. After these purges of fear-based impulses and constructs that have led us to organize our world in a certain way, a person releases their fear of monsters “so people don’t look like monsters”. They become what Caroline Myss calls “cosmically present to life.”