We’ve all had to take a bite of humble pie at one point or another. It can be surprisingly easy and incredibly tempting to let your pride and ego control your actions — and it’s a particularly satisfying coping mechanism to deal with personal insecurities that we have yet to understand how to deal with.
Lacking humility usually means that there’s a lingering feeling of lacking something within yourself and that typically results in an overcompensation for those personal traits that you feel like you're missing. This character flaw manifests the most when you feel threatened by the success or praise of others, creating a space of toxic comparison that only further feeds your delusion of being inadequate.
Instead of allowing these behaviors to kill your spirit and take a toll on your relationships, perhaps it's time to learn a bit about how to be humble.
What does it mean to have humility?
To have humility is to understand that it is human nature to be imperfect. Practicing humility requires that an individual develops a realistic view of one’s own idea of self importance. Those who tend to lack this very important trait have a tendency to overcompensate because they cannot meet their own elevated or unrealistic standards of perfection and this shows through in their excessive acts of pride and vanity — which is not to be mistaken for healthy shows of confidence. Having humility is all about giving credit where it is due — both, to yourself and others — when acknowledging the necessary steps that people are taking to better themselves. In essence, to be humble is to be genuine.
Why is it good to be humble?
There are many benefits associated with practicing humility — it helps you build and maintain meaningful personal relationships with others, aids in developing healthy self-esteem and self-confidence and can even make people more inclined to help you when it comes to pursuing new projects or goals. Being humble opens many avenues to bring growth and abundance into your life — and who doesn't want more love, opportunity and growth in their life?
15 Ways to practice humility
1. Develop empathy.
Being humble requires having empathy — both, for yourself and for others. Developing empathy for yourself in an attempt to be more humble can help you come to terms with or begin to unpack the insecurities that lead you to feel the need to overcompensate in the first place. In the process of learning to be kind to yourself for your perceived imperfections you are also in the process developing empathy for others and their imperfections. Once you've learned to accept yourself and give yourself credit for your personal growth, you can radiate that supportive energy to others as well — and it'll be well received.
2. Ask people about themselves.
As nice as it would be to feel like the world revolves around us, that simply isn’t the case. Sometimes it's best to let others have the spotlight, because although we may have something interesting to share that doesn't mean that others don't also have things worthy of sharing and worthy of being heard. Ask about people's lives, achievements and interests, and actively show interest in others in the same way you seek interest from them when you have something to share — it's only fair.
3. Practice active listening.
Listening to respond and actually listening are two very different things. Active listening is an essential skill in practicing humility. When others are speaking give your undivided attention and signal that you're engaged in the conversation through actions like nodding and asking relevant questions based on what the speaker is saying. Talking over others, redirecting the conversation back to you and zoning out when people are telling you about themselves or something that they’re interested in makes you come off as uninterested and uncaring. Remember, do unto others as you want done to you.
4. Give credit where it's due.
Minimizing the ideas of others or taking credit for something that someone else came up with is a really shady move. At one point or another we’ve experienced to some degree someone else taking an opportunity to steal our thunder. If you can empathize with how awful it feels to have your ideas discredited or credited to someone else, then why would you want to make someone else experience that if only to boost your own ego? Acknowledge other people’s greatness and allow them to have their moments of pride. Just because it’s someone else’s moment to shine doesn’t mean that you won’t get your chance to shine, too. Achievements are much more satisfying when you know you’re surrounded by people who are genuinely proud of and happy for your accomplishments!
5. Avoid toxic comparison.
We’ve all experienced envy at some point in our lives — but when you compare yourself to others, you’re just giving your insecurities and anxieties more of a reason to fill your head with self-doubt. Being humble means accepting the fact that other's aren’t any less deserving of happiness and nice things because it seems better than what you have — being happy for others helps you attract your own sense of happiness.
6. Practice gratitude.
Practicing gratitude can make the act of avoiding toxic comparison so much easier. By showing gratitude you grow out of the mindset of lacking and into a mindset of abundance. You have everything you need at this moment in your life and you have those things for a reason — show gratitude for what you already have and you will invite opportunities to acquire more. Just don't forget to pay it forward!
Often times asking for help is seen as a show of weakness — and for those who lack humility this task is seen as monumental. Admitting that you don’t always have all of the answers and that other people may be more qualified or capable than you to help with something can put you in a very vulnerable position. Nobody likes feeling incapable — but asking for help isn’t proof that you’re incapable. In actuality, being able to ask for help shows a willingness to learn and to grow, which are opportunities that we should always be open to.
8. Practice vulnerability.
Vulnerability is hard to achieve. No matter how many times we watch Brené Brown’s TED talk on the concept, the act of actually being vulnerable in practice takes time. In the mean time, however, putting effort into trying to be vulnerable with others is a step in the right direction. Sharing small, intimate, emotional pieces of information with others and allowing them to reciprocate displays a level of trust that helps humanize people that we might otherwise think of as competition. We won’t always get it right, but in trying to build bridges we’re showing a willingness to genuinely connect with other people. Genuinely sharing about yourself to others and allowing them to share with you can help you break down any emotional walls you’ve built that ultimately lead to self-sabotaging and self-destructive behaviors — like lacking humility.
It’s so easy to assume that people are lying to you when they give you a compliment — but it does you more harm than good to assume that others don’t see your shining qualities. When you learn to accept genuine admiration from others it allows you an opportunity to acknowledge that you do indeed have good qualities and that others are actively appreciating them — even if you may not have it "all together." Learning to accept the admiration you've earned also helps you develop the skill of giving others genuine compliments as well — which keeps the cycle of positive acknowledgement going.
10. Have a sense of humor about yourself.
Everyone should learn to laugh at themselves. Life's no fun when you take it so seriously all the time. You’re not exempt from making mistakes or having mishaps, but what sets people apart in these situations is how they choose to react to those events. Don’t let your desire to be perceived as perfect keep you from laughing when life gets a little ridiculous. Everyone's had their fair share of embarrassments — having a sense of humor about it just makes you more relatable.
11. Recognize that apologies aren’t shows of weakness.
There are going to be times when you’re in the wrong. While we may always try to frame ourselves as the hero of our own stories, we can’t forget the fact that sometimes we’re going to be the villain in somebody else’s. Recognizing when you’ve done something wrong and apologizing for it doesn’t make you weak — it actually shows a lot of emotional maturity when you can put your care and consideration for others above your pride to make sure that you're holding yourself accountable for how you treat others.
12. Learn to properly apologize.
Sometimes “sorry” just isn’t going to cut it. Changed behavior is the best apology out there — but before you can get to that point you should get comfortable with admitting you were wrong, explaining why what you did was wrong and allowing the offended person(s) the opportunity to decide what it is they need from you in order to heal from the offense. Properly apologizing means checking your pride at the door and giving others the opportunity to express how they feel you need to be held accountable in the future.
13. Learn to accept constructive feedback.
Constructive feedback exists to help us grow into our best selves. So why do yourself the disservice of avoiding necessary tools for growth because it feels uncomfortable confronting areas of improvement you may need to work on? Being receptive to this kind of feedback displays a genuine effort towards becoming the best version of yourself. So long as we can recognize when these suggestions from others are coming from a place of care, there's always room for improvement.
14. Avoid mistaking cockiness for confidence.
There’s nothing wrong with having confidence; we should all work towards building a healthier sense self-confidence. It isn’t uncommon, however, for people to mistake cockiness for having confidence. While it is necessary that we all develop a healthy sense of confidence in ourselves and our abilities, if it comes at the expense of placing others below us then it isn't really confidence and it may be time to re-evaluate how you validate yourself.
15. Recognize that being humble doesn’t mean dimming your shine.
Traditionally, people have thought of being humble as minimizing your positive traits and achievements for the sake of other people’s comfort, but we know better than that. A more modern understanding of being humble acknowledges that minimizing your achievements and dimming your shine for the sake of allowing others to have the spotlight isn't the goal. Instead, being humble should be about mutually allowing people to exist in their confidence and achievements alongside your own. Lizzo said it best when she said "If I shine, everybody gonna shine!"
How does practicing humility help improve your love life?
Choosing to practice humility greatly affects the status of your relationships with other people, especially romantic ones. We've all heard the cliche that relationships are a give and take — and when it comes to humility's role in that give and take, developing it does require some exploration of themes like vulnerability and accountability; two concepts that romantic relationships thrive on. So it's not surprising that an individual's personal journey to develop and explore humility could also strengthen the bond between lovers as well.
How do you show humility in a relationship?
Active listening, encouraging vulnerability, giving and accepting compliments and learning to apologize are a few very effective ways to practice humility in romantic relationships. Developing a romantic bond with someone requires an understanding that each partner has a responsibility to make sure the other feels heard, appreciated, safe and respected. Actively listening to your partner ensures that their concerns are always being acknowledged with an open mind and a willing heart. Encouraging vulnerability between partners ensures that there's a sense of safety between partners to share their feelings freely. Giving and receiving compliments ensures that there's a consistent sense of appreciation for each other, and learning to apologize to your partner can reinforce the respect that partners have for each other's feelings.
The themes associated with displaying humility in romantic relationships are endless — and the way that you decide to practice them in your personal life can vary depending on you and your partner's love languages. It's really all about fine tuning these themes to fit into the context of your life and intentionally moving forward with empathy and a willingness to compromise.
The last word
Being humble requires maturity and accountability in order to make it a constant positive attribute in your life. It affects not only your relationship with yourself, but also dictates how you interact with and are perceived by others. Don't allow personal trauma to get in the way of the the positivity that practicing humility can usher into your like.
Aaliyah Barnes is a New Jersey based freelance writer with a thirst for adventure and a need for constant change. When she isn't writing about how to live one’s best life, she can be found at the nearest airport in search of cheap flights and new friends.