Humility Is Not Something To Be Proud Of

Humility Is Not Something To Be Proud Of

By Caroline Schumsky, LCSW, MS

I’m not always right.   But when I am, it’s usually all the time.”  Yikes.   “All I know is that one of us is right and other one is you.”  All righty, then.   Recognize anyone?  As they say: “Don’t be so humble.   You’re not that great.”

“Believe in yourself.   Be bold.   Be brash.”  That is what we are constantly told.   “Don’t sell yourself short.   Sure, confidence is awesome, but it is not the same as competence.”  Well, you know what they say: “To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”  So just how puffed up, presumptuous, and pushy are you?  If looking for admiration and being loved by all is the aim that you wear daily, you may wish to consider trying on a different outfit.

No one is suggesting we fall down the rabbit hole of anxiety or low self-esteem, sweet friends.   Granted there is something to be said for cherishing a genuine, heartfelt, and deserved compliment.   It’s okay to take your daily self-esteem bath, provided you do not value yourself at the expense of others.

If you’ve ever heard a great lecture, you may think that the speaker was assured, undaunted – even a tad uppity.   But you can bet that if you were truly moved by her, she was unpretentious and modest.   And without a doubt, he was practiced, prepared, and proficient.   That, my friends is called expertise.   Acting showy or superior certainly does not reveal your inner warmth.

Humility gets a bad rap in this ego-based society of ours.   It may very well be one of the most underrated virtues out there, actually.   But the secret is that true humility requires us to be self-aware.   Ouch, I know.   But without it, we are not mindful of the damage some of our behavior causes.   Start by gently observing what produces negativity in your life.   See how often, if ever, you admit that you were wrong.   I know: Being right half the time beats being half right all the time.   Heh.

Without meekness, how can you even accept others’ advice?  And let’s face it, if your ego is not at the wheel, then frustration and even loss becomes so much easier to bear.   So would you rather be a modest, unpretentious, but talented person, or a conceited, puffed-up phony?

Lack of pretention simply means you are receptive to improving yourself.   Simple as that.   Sure, you may be poised and pumped up, but contrite enough to know that there is always room for growth, no matter how “great” you are at something.   Heck, if only I had a little humility, I’d be perfect.’

Do you say things like: “I’m sorry I upset you; I’ll try not to be right next time”? Sheesh.   Humility is a strange thing, my friends.   The minute you think you got it, you lost it.   It is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.   But truth be told, we live in the Age of Arrogance.   Everyone is unabashedly over-inflating their own importance and accomplishments; and making darn sure we all see it, on Instagram.   We are certainly not encouraged to have a modest opinion of ourselves, now, are we?  …when, in fact, a wise person is one who knows how little he knows.

Let’s be honest.   Sometimes our training ground for work on our restraint and reservation comes from relationships with difficult and even arrogant people.   That, my friends, is how true virtue is cultivated.   Observe how much you crave respect or admiration from others.   Shedding the ego is no easy task.   As the surgeon said: “I removed your ego.   Turns out, that was what was clogging your reality.”  Next time you think about your “ego,” skip the “E” and let it “go.”

If you have ever prepared and cooked a meal, you may be tempted to say: “I made that meal all by myself.”  But did you, really?  Someone planted those vegetables, drove the truck that brought them to your city long before you tossed that salad.   How connected are you to the efforts of others and the whole of the Universe?

Listen when you and others speak.   Is the convo more about everyone’s appearance and achievements or of people’s struggles, hopes, and dreams?  When you recount your life to others, what do you highlight?  Do you introduce yourself or others with titles? How seriously do you take yourself? Can you laugh at yourself?

Okay, admit it.   You have pulled up your blankets and punched yourself in the face at least once.   You know what they say: “Laugh, and the whole world laughs with you.   Snore, and you sleep alone.”  Heh.   Please make an effort to acknowledge your shortcomings, sweet friends.   Feel free to present your positive traits and attributes, so long as you are somewhat accurate.   “You know, when I told you I was normal, I may have exaggerated slightly.”  Lol.

It’s like the old proverb says: “Be like the bamboo.   The higher you grow, the deeper you bow.’

Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at or at

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