Humble Pie

“O Lord, it’s hard to be humble/When you’re perfect in every way…”

This old country song by Mac Davis has been running through my head lately as I have recently experienced a newfound humility borne out of an old way way of behaving.

The word “humility” is often confused with the word “humiliation” and yet they are not the same. When I am humiliated I feel bad or ashamed about myself. When I am truly humble I am teachable, right-sized and grateful.

When I am trying to be perfect “in every way” I am hardly in a teachable frame of mind. What can I learn when I already know everything? I am not the right size for my skin because I am ten-feet tall and bullet proof. And how can I be thankful when I am judging everybody else for not being as perfect as I am?

I often say I am a recovering perfectionist. Perfectionism is its own form of addiction. I am consumed by the need to be right and I will go to any lengths to sustain the illusion that I have the power to control others and outcomes. Like many addictions perfectionism is coming from a deeply wounded place. I’m not a perfectionist because I’m an exceptional person I’m a perfectionist because I am a broken person.

Last week, after trying to win my way through a discussion and coming up against brick wall after brick wall I was finally confronted with my own self-righteousness. It was not a pleasant feeling. The worst part about it was that I thought I was being very spiritual the whole time I was engaged in the battle! That sounds frighteningly similar to the terrorist who attacks others in the name of God. (I’m being hard on myself. And yet if we are not examining our inner assassins we are hardly in a position to condemn the “real” ones. I feel another post coming on…)

After it became clear that I had been acting like a hypocrite I had no other recourse but to admit I was wrong and make amends. The response from the other side was silence. No more fighting. The interior response was peace. I am dumbstruck by the complete paradox of this simple formula: We diffuse the bomb through surrender. (Would this work as a tactic at the political level? Declaring peace? There’s that other post again…)

As the shame from my humiliation gradually transformed into humility I began to see a wider view. I remembered that my self-centered behaviour is not actually who I am. It is merely the action that comes forth from my woundedness. I reconnected to the unbroken, untouched Sacred Centre that is the True Core of Who I Am and what do you think emerged? Gratitude.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Accepting my imperfection is an ongoing process. I will give thanks for my humanness, which allows my Whole Self to continually emerge.

Silent Recognition

Dearest Readers,

After two months on the road I am home (sweet home) and it feels great to be here. Yesterday afternoon after completing the cardio spurt I committed to last year I looked out at the mountains, deep green with summer life, and said to myself, “Man, I love this place.”

When I flew home the other day I had a long layover so decided to take the Canada Line into Vancouver to run some errands. After a fruitful shopping session I headed back to the airport to spend the rest of my time chilling in the departure lounge.

On my way back inside the airport I witnessed an interesting exchange between a guy heading in my direction and a guy heading in the opposite direction, for the trains. This is the conversation that took place:

Guy Heading for the Airport: Are you going downtown?

Guy Heading for the Trains: Uh, yes.

GHFTA: I have a Day-Pass and I don’t need it. Would you like it?

GHFTT: How much do you want for it?

GHFTA: No, nothing. You can have it. It’s good for the whole day.

GHFTT: Oh, okay. Thanks. Thank you.

GHFTA: You’re welcome. It’s good for the whole day!

As the GHFTA and I walked inside I was tempted to say something to him. I wanted to acknowledge his generosity in some way, you know, validate it for him. It was on the tip of my tongue to speak, to say the words, “That was really generous of you.” He stood right in front of me, the escalator carrying us down together.

I kept silent.

Why? Was it fear? No. I’ve been afraid to speak out in such situations before but this time it was something else that held my tongue.

Humility. Both his and mine.

First of all, his: The GHFTA didn’t do what he did for recognition. He made the decision alone, he took the action alone and he alone would receive the benefits of such kindness.

And we all know what those are, don’t we? A sense of satisfaction at having done something decent. A feeling of righteousness without the “self” in front. Integrity, increased self-esteem. All good stuff.

Okay, secondly, mine: The GHFTA didn’t need me to make his action count. Who was I to interfere? “That was really generous of you.” No duh. That’s why he did it.

Don’t get me wrong. As an Inspiring Coach I’m all about validating our successes, however small. But by keeping my mouth shut I was acknowledging my own insignificance in the situation. I was the Silent Witness, nothing more.

This action not taken on my part was inspired by the GHFTA’s own humble gesture. He didn’t need me to make his day. He’d already done that for himself.

Inspiring Message of the Day: Am I the kind of person who needs to make everything about me? Today I will be the Silent Witness, allowing other people to have their moment in the spotlight without my interference.