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.

Yes I Am

Dearest Readers,

Here is the thing about personal growth: we have to be willing to accept that we have shortcomings and we have to be willing to change. This fact usually produces an “ugh” in most of us and a “la-la-la I can’t hear you” response complete with hands over the ears for maximum effect. But if one is seeking Peace one must be willing to look within at the good, the bad and the ugly.

As some of you know, I’m heading on the road in a few weeks for a lengthy stint of travel. The cat needs a sitter and so I put the word out on a local Listserv and received a number of responses. Even on the best of days I am overwhelmed by e-mail. I feel like Newman, Jerry’s enemy on Seinfeld, the postal worker who, when explaining why workers sometimes go “postal” speaks about the never-ending influx of mail.

That overwhelm means that sometimes my responses are going to come across as curt, or short and, apparently, arrogant. Yesterday I received an email response from a woman I’ve never met, a potential cat-sitter,  to whom I sent a message basically saying “thanks but no thanks.” Her message?

“Thanks for your arrogant reply.”

Arrogance? Yes, I have it. I’m the first to admit it. But when someone else points it out, well, it doesn’t feel so good. I have to say I was pretty shocked.

Of course my first response was to be hurt, then to be angry, then I thought of all the rude things I could write back. Then I did the icky work. The work no one really likes to do. I took responsibility for my actions.

According to the dictionary on this computer, arrogance means “an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.” What it doesn’t say is that arrogance usually comes from fear. My own arrogance has been bred by my insecurity. My deep inferiority complex actually created  the opposite behaviour in me. I became an ego-maniac.

The good news is once I admitted the shortcoming I could then begin to change and be changed. Until I could see the problem there was no solution.

So I sent a reply to that woman who called me arrogant. I told her my response likely came across the way it did because I am a little overwhelmed at the moment and then I asked her for a re-do. I re-wrote her a message, taking the time to thank her for her offer, explaining that I’d found someone else and wishing her all the best.

Humbling, yes. More than I owed her, perhaps. The Path to Peace, absolutely.

And she wrote me back and thanked me.

Inspiring Message of the Day: When I clean up my side of the street I am giving my Self the gift of freedom from fear and shame.