It’s Good to Humiliate Yourself

How do we get rid of blindness in ourselves? How to we gain a true perspective?

Step one is considering that you might be blind, which is hard, because we assume we have all our senses. We know ourselves better than anyone else does. Sometimes you have to take it on faith that the perspective others have of you, if they truly love you, is true. What distant acquaintances think of us is none of our business. Often, even people we love have opinions of us that need be ignored. But those people who have consistently proven their own commitment to our betterment—those who would lay down their lives for us—have opinions about us that matter.

The kicker is that sometimes these opinions will seem utterly untrue to you, especially if they are about your bad behavior. We tend to approve, or at least accept, all of our own behavior. We also think we know ourselves better than anyone else does.

The wise thing to do is to take on faith that someone else might see something about you that you don’t. I mean blind, unadulterated faith. Total trust, even when you are convinced it’s wrong.

It’s not faith in the statement about your character, which you can’t possibly conceive as true right now, it’s faith in the person making the statement, whose credibility you have proven repeatedly.

I said it’s the wise thing to do. It’s not the easy thing.

The easy thing is to trust yourself the most, to write off the feedback, to rely on your own senses.

Absolutely nothing in this world is as addictive as pride. It’s also invisible—to you. The more you indulge it, the less you think you indulge it and the less you consider that you may be full of it. It’s more blinding than a thousand bottles of whiskey, and it intoxicates in a similar way. Like being drunk, everyone around a prideful person can see the pride. The worse it gets, the more they see it, and the less the prideful person sees it. The prideful person’s confidence is sky high, but the whole world calls their bluff.

Pride is drunkenness.

Pride is debilitating for another reason: it destroys your empathy. How can you develop the habit of getting inside another’s perspective when the only one you ever consider is your own?

Pride warning signs:

  1. You haven’t been embarrassed about anything you’ve done in a long time.
  2. You have been told about a behavior in yourself multiple times, and still you can’t see it, so you defend.
  3. You avoid humiliating yourself to those you love at all costs.

When the people are safe, we should be eager to humiliate ourselves. Seriously!

It’s this process:

  1. You vividly see that what you’ve done is wrong and that it has hurt others.
  2. You throw away every atom of defensiveness, because remember, you’ve done something wrong.
  3. You own your actions completely, which also means empathizing with the people you have hurt, understanding their anger, giving them as long as they need to process, and actively seeking to make amends.

Ownership is magic. It only takes a little to ease the greatest tensions.

It’s when we say, “I’m sorry you felt this way about what I did,” or, “I’m sorry I did this, it’s just that you did _______ first,” that we start losing ground.

But when we say, “I’m so sorry for what I did, and I can’t imagine how much it actually hurt you,” or, “This is no one’s fault in any way but mine,” or, “I did this because I was selfish and inconsiderate,” that tensions begin to vaporize.

It’s not a method or a tactic. It must come from a willingness to keep your face in the dust as long as it takes. It’s shocking how much water can drift under the bridge when we demolish the dam of our own pride—when we consistently own wrongs, show willingness to humiliate ourselves, and remain open to the fact that we might not see ourselves truly. It can reverse a years-long trend of distance and apprehension in a relationship.

It takes a lot of work to get there. We are born defenders. By instinct we set up forts and load our cannons even towards the people we love.

But no one hates humility.

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