I thought I was being Humble, until I saw I was being a Victim.
The comparison of these two human characteristics can be hard to distinguish because some of their outward appearances may be thought of as similar. And for those who are concerned about the possibility for misinterpretation, avoiding the appearance of humility is done in order not to be seen as a victim. In order to gain the benefits of humility while avoiding being labeled a victim a clear distinction needs to be made for each trait.
A victim seems to approach life from a position of weakness. They see themselves as unworthy, incapable, less-than, or disadvantaged and are steeped in self-pity. They act in a way that conveys subservience or displaying a persona of being of no consequence. They need direction which sucks the energy out of those around them causing them to be avoided. This in turn causes lower self-worth and a feeling of abandonment. Victimhood is a self-perpetuating condition descending into an ever-deeper pathology.
By contrast, Stage 7 of my book, beginning on page 65, lays out a definition of humility to show its necessity for change as well as the strength inherent in this attribute:
“Surrender, which is synonymous with humility, is acknowledging that our past actions were counterproductive and that a new attitudinal approach will yield better outcomes. It becomes clear that, without surrendering, change is difficult if not impossible.
We must understand what surrender is not. Surrender is not passive. It’s not giving up, nor is it humiliation. Humiliation requires admitting to losing, or to having been wrong, which happens when we assume we are right in the first place. Similarly, surrender is not negotiable, or for that matter, re-negotiable. Surrender is absolute and is the recognition that all we assumed to be true is not and that we must accept our new and different reality from this point forward.
Humility is being open to making positive change because something new has come to light. Surrender is relinquishing the idea that we are better than or superior to others and that the outside world must submit to our will. Consider the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of humility: “The quality or state of not thinking that you are better than other people.” A central element of humility is to refocus our attention on the “WE” in a situation rather than the “I”. Acceptance of something other than our own consciousness is profoundly life changing and resides at the highest order of human expression. …
Humility is also asking for help. Asking for help from others has obvious benefits because things get done quicker and with less frustration. However, when we are applying humility to personal change, from whom are we asking for help? Is the invocation directed to a supreme being, a positive energy in the universe, the composite wisdom of a trusted group? For those who have a working concept of a higher power this question is already answered. For those with no concept or a negative, distrustful view of such issues, no amount of logic or argument to believe will help bring this concept into focus.
For those of us who have difficulty imagining a higher greater than themselves as part our humility, it is suggested that we wait and hold this question until later in the process. After we have experienced positive changes for which there is no rational explanation, we might view things differently. Belief in a traditional God isn’t a requirement, rather only that there is an inner confidence that we will be taken care of. Don’t worry about how this happens. The benefits from this process don’t come because of the acceptance of a spiritual idea; they come because we choose to see change as a gift which we humbly accept.”
One may also ask whether this means that we must have humility as a pre-condition for change. If one starts from a position of being convinced of their own rightness, are they precluded form beginning the process of change? No. However, it is likely more difficult for the process of self-examination to begin. A more dramatic catastrophic event may be required to jolt a conceited person from their cocoon of self-righteousness. Initially they may not experience the pain associated with broken relationships or the isolation brought on from their arrogant attitude but they must experience, in a fortuitous moment, a stark realization that things are different than what they had thought was true. This is where humility can begin to take root and a desire for change can begin to be formulated.
Those who have experienced this type of transition, where things took on new and different meanings and where things held to be of vital importance were redefined as inconsequential, remember the before and after with vivid recollection. This transformation does not happen quickly nor does it occur without experiencing increasing pain as reality sinks in. This is an essential part of the process of entering a new existence.
Identify an event that demonstrates your resistance to change and describe how you attempted to maintain the status-quo. What were your feelings and how did the situation turn out? Now describe how things could have been different if you had had an attitude of humility.