Humility: The Crucial Anchor For All Spiritual Pursuits

Developing genuine humility is a crucial component of any spiritual pursuit, but why is it so tricky to do?

During my short time on this planet, I’ve experienced quite a lot. I’ve traveled the world for many years, and I’ve become increasingly involved in the ancestral medicine space in South America.

I believe I have a strong grip on spirituality and can guide others in their processes, and you know what?

This is part of the problem.

What I’ve come to realize is that it doesn’t take much for my ego to get involved, especially when diving into spirituality. I’ll admit. At times I can be arrogant, or ignorant. There will be times when I speak from a place of pompousness rather than authenticity.

Of course, I’m trying to find a healthy balance, but I’m only human after all.

One of the biggest lessons of my life right now is to not only learn the importance of humility but to genuinely be a more humble person. Believe it or not, it’s very tricky.

A reocurring pattern I’ve recently caught onto is that every time I get a little too head-full, the universe gives me a cosmic slap in the face. The funny thing is that it seems to happen like clockwork, and the fall from the podium can be rough.

As a result of getting a little too caught in my ego, I’ll lose beautiful partners or incredible jobs. When I think my business is taking off and I become overly proud of myself, it will instantly drop off a cliff. I’ll be back to square one as if the universe itself is teaching me an important lesson: humility.

Now I’m not saying I’m arrogant. In all honesty, I believe I’m generally quite humble. But time and time again, I will receive an important lesson from the universe.

‘Daniel, if you are truly walking a spiritual path and want to become a healer, you need to do better. There is little room for error on this path, and every time your ego comes out, I will send you back to square one to learn this lesson, again, and again, and again.’

It’s interesting. There seems to be a mechanism where if I’m not genuinely feeling humble along my spiritual pursuits, I’ll soon land in a situation where I can’t avoid that lesson.

After all, it’s easier to be humble when everything is stripped away. During these moments, you have no choice but to be humble. Even though it is painful, falling off the podium is the wisest teacher of humility. Now it’s time to build yourself back up better.

Why humility is important

Humility

One of my biggest challenges has been to find a balance between coming from a place of experience; so I can educate others, and not letting my ego get involved. This can be a tricky balance to strike because a part of me wants to talk highly about myself and my experiences, but another part of me perceives this as speaking from my ego.

So how can you strike this balance? After all, we live in a competitive society. Nobody ever gets anywhere by playing small. Do they?

When you’re getting quite deep into your spiritual practice, you will likely begin experiencing things that many people haven’t.

These experiences can be in the form of encounters with spirits and energies, changes in beliefs or perception, or deeper recognition of self, god, and ultimate reality.

Especially when you begin experiencing spiritual phenomena, it’s easy to get a big head about it. The ego says: ‘Look at me, I’m so advanced, I’m doing something right to have these experiences’. The ego has a podium to stand on, and that feeling of spiritual advancement will only lead to a spiritual ego.

It’s no wonder why the teachers in my life I consider to be very advanced are often the most humble. They don’t boast and brag about their achievements because they have nothing to prove.

Do you notice the same trend? The most advanced teachers, at least in your perspective, tend to be the most modest. But it’s not a fake crummy modesty. These teachers don’t perceive themselves to be more advanced than anyone else. They’re simply sharing what they know, and doing it with heart.

On the other hand, it’s a big red flag when spiritual teachers talk themselves up as if they demand respect or attention. I can almost guarantee you that it’s mostly a mask, and they’re not as advanced as they’re making themselves out to be. 

Therefore, being humble is one thing, but it doesn’t make a difference unless you feel humble. It must be genuine because if you’re holding your tongue for the sake of looking humble, you’re not progressing.

So let’s first identify what humility looks like:

  • You don’t feel a need for external validation and approval
  • You don’t feel the desire to talk yourself up
  • You genuinely see everyone as an equal, each on unique life journeys
  • You don’t boast
  • You don’t feel jealous of other people
  • You are happy for the success of others, and encourage them
  • You listen more than you speak
  • You always strive to understand different perspectives, ideas, and beliefs
  • You don’t combat people, even if you believe they’re wrong

Okay, so you’ve got the idea. Now let’s dig in.

Why being humble is challenging

Humility can be a challenge if we seek recognition for our life journeys. To be fair, we all want to be recognized to some extent. Recognition plays a big role in social status and our perceived level of success in life.

Sure, it’s great to be recognized for what you do, or for the journey you have taken, but we shouldn’t necessarily be looking for it. This is where it gets a little grey, and we may enter the territory of seeking validation – that is to feel the need to be approved of for our sense of self-worth and fulfillment.

Let’s take a step inward toward our desire for external validation. People often seek validation when they feel they have something to prove. This desire to prove oneself, or ‘be someone’ is usually a manifestation of cultural conditioning, which is especially rampant in Western society.

But let’s step deeper into this phenomenon. Why do we want to prove to others that we’re winners in life? Rationally, who gives a crap? You probably know that on some level, but you still want to be seen in a certain light by others.

In my conclusion, a lack of humility comes from a lack of self-worth. The need to boast about your achievements or prove yourself is likely due to feelings of deep-rooted inadequacy. Therefore, you seek external validation to cover the wound of inadequacy.

People often overcompensate by boasting about their achievements or successes because deep down they feel they’re not good enough. On the other hand, people who are secure in themselves are generally more humble because they don’t have a hole they’re trying to fill with external validation.

So, the real target here is to work on your self-worth, as naturally, humility is a byproduct of it. I’m not saying everyone who feels genuinely fulfilled, but there certainly is a correlation.

This is why humility can be difficult when you feel you are lacking. Consider the aspects of your life where you perceive deficiencies. Identify whether you are covering that hole with empty words, and how you feel if you don’t receive validation for others.

Stating our achievements makes us feel like we’re winning the game, so what you need to do is go cold turkey, and inspect where it hurts.

For example, during my youth when I hadn’t yet acquired decent dating skills, I had to spout to my friends about every romantic success I had. This made me feel like I was worthy. Not mentioning it made me feel like a loser.

That feeling of insufficiency is where the gold is at. By sitting with that feeling without pushing it away, covering it up with validation, you begin healing. After all, healing comes through being present with your suffering – to go deeper into it rather than distracting yourself from it.

Now being more mature and experienced, I don’t necessarily feel the desire to tell people about my dating life. It’s an area of my life I feel generally quite fulfilled in, so my behavior corresponds.

The underlying wound has been healed, at least in this particular area, and humility reflects it.

Finding the balance between humility and authority

Especially in the digital age when we’re trying to market ourselves or a product, we want to come across as an authority in the space. This often creates a mask where we fake it till we make it, and it can come off as crummy at best, or a scam at worst.

Because we want to be perceived in a certain light, we tend to oversell ourselves. We talk about how much we know, how much we’ve experienced, how much we can help others… Maybe sometimes this is what people need, that aggressive salesy energy, but it’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea.

As someone who is also trying to make it in the digital world, I have struggled to find the balance between asserting what I know, as to come across as an authority, but remaining humble.

I find a good balance is to speak from my own experiences and perspectives and to avoid stating anything as objective truth. I tend to speak (or write) in a way that is focused on what I’m learning, rather than positioning myself as a master. Generally, people seem to respect this approach and regularly say how they appreciate my authenticity.

Therefore, if you are trying to find this balance, I suggest being authentic to what you know and what you’re learning. It’s okay not to know it all. It humanizes you, which is particularly important in the AI age.

Here are some things to consider:

  • There is always a learning curve: Expect to not be great at what you do for quite some time, and when you are feeling competent, recognize that there is always so much more to know
  • Speak from experience: Talk about your personal experiences, and what you’ve learned through them
  • Listen more than you speak: Every person has valuable information, traits, and qualities that you can learn from. Direct your focus to learning rather than assuming you know it all

Here are some things to avoid:

  • I am highly respected: There is no need to say this. The evidence will speak for itself
  • I already know that: Even if you do, don’t combat people when they tell you things you already know. Perhaps listen to see their perspective of the situation
  • I have a big following: Regarding social media, regardless of how many people you’re connected to, it’s best to take a modest approach
  • I know more than you: This comes from a position of arrogance. Assume there is always something to learn from everyone
  • I am successful: Again, let it speak for itself

How can you be more humble?

Humility

As with any personal development pursuit, it can take time, patience, and practice to become more humble genuinely.

It’s important not to treat humility as a switch, but rather a seed that must be cultivated over time. Faking humility is the same as wearing a mask as you’re not being authentic to your true feelings. This is why it’s crucial to develop genuine humility, which we’re going to look at some strategies here.

1. Stop focusing on yourself

We tend to get caught up in our narratives and forget that everyone else is caught in theirs too. Therefore, we’re trying to prove ourselves to people who aren’t paying attention to us.

The truth is… nobody cares what you’re up to. It’s not because they’re selfish, nobody is watching you closely because they’re focused on themselves. Therefore, when you’re thinking about proving yourself in some form because you think it’s important for others to know, remember that they’re not thinking about your success.

In a way, this should take off a burden. Even if they do care, why does it matter? Start building the muscle of not caring what others think about your life, and remember that you have nothing to prove to them. Focusing on your joy and fulfillment is a better road to take.

2. Don't make comparisons

Most of us tend to compare ourselves, or our progress to other people. This is a lose-lose situation because if you have more than them, you’re stepping away from humility by comparing yourself, and if you have less, then it can cause pain.

Just as I was writing this I checked out someone’s Instagram I know and saw that they have a relatively large following. For a moment I felt envious before bringing it back to Earth.

A deeper part of me kicked in saying ‘This doesn’t matter. Stop comparing what you have.’ It’s normal to feel a little envious of people who have made it further than us in some regard but remember, we all shine in different areas. Own it, but don’t bloat about it. 

3. Speak about your achievements after

Part of the trap of ego is to talk about what we are doing or want to do. In this sense, we soak up all the validation and often become complacent because we have already gotten it. I’m certainly guilty of this, and feel ashamed when I don’t meet these preimposed expectations because I now feel I must achieve what I said I would.

A better way to approach this is to speak about your achievements after you have achieved them. For example, if you just finished your medical degree, don’t tell people you’re a doctor. Be honest with yourself.

Let recognition for what you do organically come to you. Don’t seek it out, especially if you haven’t yet achieved it.

4. Be authentic to your true feelings

In my perspective, pretending you’re someone you’re not is worse than coming across as self-centered.

The issue arises with transparency. If you aren’t being authentic to your feelings, you’re missing out on some of the most important indicators. Think of it this way; if you can’t identify when you’re not being humble because your genuine characteristics are covered by a mask, you aren’t going heal the underlying wounds, which result in genuine healing and growth.

5. Speak from personal experiences

Something I often do is talk about things from an objective perspective. I will tell people about the spiritual dimensions, spirits, and energies as fact. What I’ve learned is to speak from my personal experiences. I’m not claiming to know anything, but I will lay out my experiences, and speak from perspective rather than fact.

Some good phrases to use include:

    • From my experiences, I…
    • I believe….
    • My understanding is….
    • This is what I was taught…
    • This is what I know…

    It’s best to take a more modest approach when it comes to speaking about what you know, especially if it’s contested.

    6. Understand that learning is never-ending

    Have you ever heard the phrase: the more you know, the less you know? Well, there’s truth behind it.

    Along my journey of personal growth, I have learned quite a lot over the last decade. But one thing I’ve noticed is that the more I learn about any given thing, the more information is illuminated. In this sense, I will know more about the subject, but I will also realize that there is much more that I don’t know.

    I once heard the phrase ‘There is no such thing as mastery because we are all students of life’. I agree because mastery implies that you know it all when there is always more to know. 

    Therefore, ignorance comes from a place of naivety, of not knowing how deep the well of information goes with any given subject.

    7. Do some volunteering

    I’ve spent quite some time volunteering in different parts of the world, and generally, it’s quite a humbling experience.

    This isn’t necessarily because you don’t make money, or because you’re putting yourself aside to serve someone else’s project, although these too count. Volunteering is humbling because you learn so much about what you’re doing.

    Often, I volunteer with people who don’t have a lot in developing countries. I get to see how people live, and how happy they can be without needing all the things we take for granted. Not having access to running water or consistent food will teach you some big lessons, and make you appreciate what you do have a little bit more.

    8. Put it into perspective

    At the end of the day, sometimes we just need to put it into perspective. Look outside at the stars. Think about how big this world is, and how small you are. Think about how much is happening all around you at all times, and that you’re just one person.

    This isn’t intended to deflate you by any means, but it does help to realize that you’re just one person. It doesn’t matter. You will live, you will die, as we all do.

    Learn to see the beauty in the temporary nature of all things, in your mortality, and realize that the world will continue spinning with you or without you. Sometimes, you just need that step back, and to put it all into perspective.

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