I want to be good at being a person.
So many people get lost in this life and are never found again. It saddens me to think of how many of us completely lose ourselves in our own pathologies, bad habits, and negative thought patterns. At a certain point, if we are not careful, our sense of identity becomes wrapped up in our own psychological impulses—and if our impulses are born of pain and insecurity, we are in for a long ride.
I have met so many people like this. It breaks my heart, because in a strange way I know that every person is doing the best they can. They are doing the best that they believe they can do—and therein lies the trouble. Our thoughts become so heavily conditioned that we take them on as our reality. From here, it becomes profoundly difficult to break free of them.
I have wondered for a long time how things go wrong in our lives, how we lose touch with the vibrant inner child that exists within every one of us.
It seems like it happens so swiftly, but it is more likely that we gradually built up patterns within ourselves that we simply were not aware of. It feels like it happens so quickly because we weren’t truly there when it was happening. We were inwardly absent, detached from the deeper layers of our consciousness.
This is not a matter of judgement; it is a matter of healing. We all develop unconscious ways of being out of past necessity, but it’s absolutely crucial that we shed the skin of these negative tendencies so we don’t become a living tragedy.
We are all capable of becoming a living tragedy, like a walking shell of a person so deeply entrenched in our own pathologies that we don’t know which way is up anymore. No one is special, and this is important to understand to avoid becoming emotionally and spiritually empty while contending with the hardships of life.
How do we avoid this?
I have done virtually nothing but think about this for years now, and I have a strong feeling that it has to do with true humility.
Humility entails remaining vulnerable, sensitive, and open to the prospect of fundamental intrapersonal change.
The only sensible way to avoid becoming corrupt and depraved is to constantly acknowledge the possibility that we are living in the wrong. It is about staying open to seeing that we may be disconnected from a potential truth—one that might very well change the course of our existence.
This is a subtle balance to strike, for there is such a thing as fake humility. We can play the role of the sheepish humble peasant merely struggling to make things right—but this is just a gag for social brownie points and the sympathy of others. It is simply the inversion of arrogance and pretension, which is just as selfish and conceited. That is not real humility.
Real humility is not about exaggerated self-deprecation. It is about being deeply aware of our own state of being, having our attention directed upon what is really happening inside of us. It is a matter of lucidity and alertness, not pandering to other people’s pity for momentary self-gratification. That is merely another unconscious impulse.
Humility implies letting go of the ego, the self-defense mechanisms and patterns of the mind we have instilled to keep our psyche intact. We must learn to look at ourselves without the narrow lens of pride and self-justification. There is no need for vindication. In the eyes of God, we are all vindicated, we are all forgiven. It is just a matter of understanding where we truly are and how we ought to proceed in a way that is healing and allows us to live with love.
I hit a point recently where I was forced to make some changes. I had developed a number of bad psychic habits that had come to cause me much unnecessary pain. It took hitting rock bottom to admit to myself that I had to change, and since then I have felt deeply restored. And it started with accepting that what I was doing wasn’t working for me, and then being open to change.
This is what humbleness means to me. Starting from the ground up. Finding our home in the present moment and constructing our lives from that foundation of spaciousness and peace. It means listening to our heart more than our head.
I have a little visualization technique that I find aids me in this process. I imagine my being as a warm pool, a malleable liquid that flows according to my heart’s deepest desire. It is fluid and impressionable, yet at the same time never really changes. This is our center. It is the part of ourselves that is aligned with that which is greater than us. It expands and contracts with my inhales and exhales. I can feel it when I breathe, when I walk, when I speak.
Throughout the day, I close my eyes at different moments and envision this force within me. This mobile and constantly roving energy field. This warm puddle of ephemeral waters. And when I do, it makes me feel like a part of everything—an integral aspect of the universe that always was and always will be.
This simple practice is an acknowledgment of our deeper nature, and an acceptance of the incessant flux and change of everything in existence.
Humility is essential in transforming suffering into love.
Author: Samuel Kronen
Image: Holly Lay/Flickr
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Yoli Rammazina