Characteristics of Humility
We believe there are at least twelve key characteristics of humility. These include (1) openness, (2) an attitude of “don’t know,” (3) curiosity, (4) innocence, (5) a childlike nature, (6) spontaneity, (7) spirituality, (8) tolerance, (9) patience, (10) integrity, (11) detachment and (12) letting go—all of which lead to inner peace. Like hours on a clock, each of these is an important part of the power of humility.
Openness—Without being open to what IS we may miss countless chances to learn, experience and grow. When we have humility there is no such thing as failure. Each act or experience has something to teach us, even if it doesn’t turn out the way we planned.
“Don’t Know”—Having an attitude of not knowing the answer to every question or conflict we encounter gives us the chance to let go of always needing to come up with an answer or even be right, which may block our ability to experience inner peace and serenity. By not knowing, we expand our possibilities. We don’t limit ourselves.
Curiosity—Curiosity drives us to see the authenticity of other people.
Innocence—As we look at newborn infants we are reminded that we are innocent at our core. A pure mind knows that innocence is strength. We enter into our innocence each time that we co-create peace with another with whom we may be in conflict.
Childlike—Whenever we are in conflict we are in our ego, projecting sin, guilt and shame onto the person(s) with whom we are in conflict. If we see sin and badness in another we lose the peace of our innocence. If we see any error in them and attack them for it, we hurt ourselves.
Spontaneity—Being spontaneous means living as our real selves in this moment of now. Our True Self exists only in the eternal now. As soon as we honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with more ease and joy. Every time we let ourselves go into the past (usually from guilt or shame) or project into the future (usually from fear), we are energizing our ego, which usually causes us conflict and pain. We know we are in our ego when we are not at peace.
Spirituality—Spirituality is about our relationship with self, others and the God of our understanding. And it is much more. Whereas religion takes us by the hand—and we follow the usually preordained path of those who have gone before us—spirituality is about our own personal path. We do it our own way and in our own time. We form an experiential bond with self, others and God that we may or may not find in religion.
Tolerance—If a situation is intolerable and we suffer from it, we have three options: (1) remove ourselves from the situation, (2) change it or (3) accept it as it is. We can be pushed by our pain and suffering or pulled by our spiritual vision.
Patience—Patience may be one of our hardest lessons to attain. When we are in our ego, we want everything RIGHT NOW. Our ego has no patience and as such may lead us to believe we are being mistreated, empty, bored or otherwise in pain. It’s almost humorous to realize the spectrum of emotions we experience when we find ourselves stuck in our ego.
Integrity—Humility breeds integrity and vice versa. They support and feed one another in a positive way. Because integrity means we are whole, we are working from our authentic selves, who God made us to be, and at the same time we are wholly taking in the people and the world around us.
Detachment—Detachment is sometimes mistakenly interpreted to mean “to not care about,” but the word actually means “to separate from.” It requires a willingness to let go and allow others to take responsibility for their own lives.
Letting Go—Letting go is in large part about letting go of our ego. When we let go of our ego, being humble becomes easier. When we are whole, when we are living as our True Self, we can help the people we love by being present with them and loving them unconditionally. But we can’t fix anyone.
Growing humility—the power of “don’t know”—allows others to be themselves around us. Without our judging or taking their inventory, they feel safe. Our humility allows for different interpretations of the same event. It allows us to reframe our point of view. Not attached to being “right” or “wrong,” we are more inclusive of others and don’t compete with their reality. When we explore what we “don’t know,” we invite experiences into our lives that our ego didn’t plan, expect or imagine. We make a place for mystery, possibility and peace in our lives. We develop trust by being honest with ourselves and others regarding our inner life.
Charles Whitfield, Barbara Whitfield, Russell Park, & Jeneane Prevatt — The Power of Humility (pp. 15-31)
Humility. We’re all experts at recognizing people who lack humility. We prefer not to spend loads of our time with these people. We all know a handful of people who can’t stop talking about themselves wherever they go.
We can easily spot a lack of humility in other people, no doubt; but are we able to see the areas in our own lives where we lack humility? We always judge ourselves with less scrutiny than we judge others with.
These twelve characteristics of humility were eye-opening for me. What I came to realize was I’m doing good with my humility in some areas of my life but I drastically need improvements in other areas of my life. I suspect you might feel the same way. I consistently find myself in situations where my humility is tested and I’m sad to admit I often drop the ball. I allow my ego to take over and run rampant before my True Self is able to rein it in and minimize the damage.
Those who love me and know me best understand I am working to embrace the power of humility in all my relationships and conflicts, but I’m certainly a work in progress. We all are.
I smiled when I saw one of the characteristics of humility was “Don’t Know” because it reminded me of one of my favorite blog posts—I Don’t Know—that I wrote previously. Not knowing is not such a bad place to be.
For me, four areas I desperately need to work on are patience, tolerance, detachment and letting go. Are there any areas that stick out for you?
Have a blessed day.
Peace and Love,