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Humility in recovery creates unity

August 25. Humility is an interesting word. Quite literally it means, “ a modest or low view of one's own importance; humbleness.” And I believe very much in the importance of this concept particularly for people who struggle with substance abuse and then get clean and sober.

The nature and underlying affliction of addiction truly is self-centeredness.

However, as I was taught early on, self-centeredness isn’t what I think of myself, but rather how often I think of myself. And in my active addiction I was thinking about myself ALL THE TIME!

I had zero self-esteem, didn’t think anything positive about myself, literally wanted to die all the time, but that was a lot of thoughts about myself.

Enter recovery.

In this place, we are asked to let go of that self-centeredness and ego and begin to focus more on gratitude and service. I don’t believe we are called to think less of ourselves or that we aren’t important, no. That’s not what this definition says (however I believe some modern day sober feminists extract meaning and run with it).

What it says is we have an appropriate view of ourselves and our place in the world. Basically it says, you aren’t any more important than anyone else. 

You aren’t better.

You aren’t better than the alcoholic on the street. You are better than the garbage man or the lady who cleans your teeth. You aren’t better than the barista at your local coffee shop the people living in section 8 housing.

Newsflash, they aren’t more important than you either. The CEO of your company, the pop singer on stage, or the president of the United States aren’t more important than you either.

They likely put their pants on the same way this morning but they were probably just a lot more expensive.

Humbling ourselves means being free from pride and arrogance. Letting go of any and all notion that you, for any reason at all, are more valuable than anyone else.

Of course we all have different talents, that’s what makes the world go round. We are all born into certain circumstances and in certain countries. Some of us are dealt better hands in life than others. This is all true.

And in fact the recognition of this is part of humility as well.

This isn’t generally the natural human way, unless you are Mr. Rogers. Most of us have to work at this. Have to become humble. Many won’t even notice the experiences they have as humbling, and they miss the opportunity to feel being put in your place. One of the greatest examples of this for me is with my children.

Having the experience of making amends to a child, especially when you come from a generation where that wasn’t a thing and parents were totally in charge, for me is incredibly humbling. I am not better than them. I am older, arguable wiser with more life experience but I am not more important.

The experience of treating someone in a “lesser” position professionally or socio-economically with complete respect, kindness and generosity builds humility. Human to human. This takes intention.

Check in with yourself.

Where are the areas you still find that you want to hold on to the idea that you are more important that someone else? Often this is subtle or shows up in ways that frankly are even socially acceptable. But your insides know. And likely the energy that you are emitting to the world allows the other people to know as well.

Where do you find your mind wandering, even just for a second or fantasizing about your accomplishments or resources in comparison to others? Don’t worry, we all do it sometimes, like I said it is subtle and without complete awareness all the time of our thoughts and actions we can miss it.

I’m wondering, how would your life including all those around you, be affected if you humbled yourself in all areas? Just give it a minute to marinate. How much more peaceful would the world be if we did this?

The unrest, senseless violence and class wars would end.

Today I want to do my part by extending grace to the driver with road rage and the person who doesn’t hold the door for me at the gym. I want to put someone on hold when I get in line at the grocery store, an look the waitress in the eye, smile and say thank you when she brings me my fifteenth class of club soda.

I will respect my kids choices even when I know for 100% certain they aren’t the best for them and open my arms.

I want to offer to help someone who normally I would step over, ignore or talk about under my breath. That’s the kind of person I want to be.

The journey is long, but the time is now. Let’s meet for coffee.





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