Recognizing Our True Behavior – Humility

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.

For more information on the concepts and methods of self-examination, please visit our web site or to acquire the book go to

Recognizing Our True Behavior – Helpful

I thought I was being Helpful, until I saw I was being Transactional.

I don’t know of a single person who would not like to think of themselves as being helpful to others. A helpful attitude comes from a sincere desire to be of service to those needing support. Being helpful is a gift we give and we rarely want or receive anything in return. An act of kindness is simply being neighborly. It involves giving time and effort to make someone else’s life easier which is its own reward. Consider stopping on the road to help an older person change a flat tire. We do this out of a sense for the plight of the person in need and know how much we would appreciate help if we were in that situation.

Those on the receiving end of such kindness typically feel an eminence relief for getting a task done they would have had difficulty doing themselves. They can’t think of words to truly express their thanks for the help and may have a sense of indebtedness for the help they received. “Pay it forward” is what the giver typically says to an offer of compensation. To extract anything of emotional or tangible value from the receiver would be to negate the underlying nature of an act of helping.

Compare this with an act of managing a situation where some form of compliance is expected. This is the type of interaction many of us have with our children when we want them to complete a task, exhibit respectful behavior in public, or to stop fighting with their brother. We attempt to make it clear that they will get something they want as a reward if they comply or, alternatively, they will get something they don’t want if our demands are not met. It never occurs to us that we could help them pick up their toys rather than demanding that they do it “immediately” and thereby demonstrate a subtle but powerful example of how to act.

It may well be our intent to provide a helpful lesson to the child that there are consequences for not following directions. But for the transactional person the focus is on supervision, organization, and performance rather than meeting needs or being helpful. People using the transactional model tend to find fault and identify deviations. Those on the receiving end of this type of management tend to feel controlled, supervised, or even dominated. If this persists over time, a sense of fear persists and a sense of gratitude does not develop. Without a sense of gratitude, we see life as a non-giving place, filled with scarcity and threat.

How do I transition from a transactional mindset to one of being helpful. It starts with focusing on what we can give instead of what we will receive. An attitude of giving comes from the experience of having received something from someone who asked for nothing in return. If we did not receive the gift of gratitude when we were young, it is likely difficult to feel giving as a natural response. It requires making a conscious choice to be of service and a willingness to sit with feelings disappointment when those receiving the gift seem unappreciative.

So much of the book deals with deals with this difficult process of reprogramming how we act, react and otherwise process our feelings about what we want and don’t want. The theme of this series of assays on Recognizing Our True Behavior deals with the many attitudinal variations that are possible as we are bombarded with things we didn’t anticipate.

How often do I punish myself when my expectations are not realized? What could I do to employ a helpful vs. a transactional model and thereby turn expectations into quiet satisfaction?

For more information on the concepts and methods of self-examination, please visit our web site or to acquire the book go to

Recognizing Our True Behavior – Principled

I thought I was being Principled, until I saw I was being Self-Righteous.

A person who is principled has character traits that imply acting in accordance with a moral compass and/or showing a recognition of right and wrong. There is something attractive about someone known to be honesty, forth-right or with a track record of noteworthy accomplishments. They are trusted, in many cases, without the need to prove their assertions. They are often given positions of leadership because of the integrity they embody.

It is true that we can be disappointed when our trust is misused by someone who masquerades as a principled person. For Example, a confidence-person emulates principled characteristics to take advantage of the unsuspecting, politicians don’t keep their promises or some members of the clergy are unable to live up to the high standards expected of them. Yet we hold on to the ideal that living by principles is a highly desirable trait.

This essay attempts to bring out the potential that some people who want to be known as principled are in fact acting out of self-interest, only pretending to be disciplined. In such cases they exhibit attitudes of haughtiness, an air of superiority, or sometime are condescending toward those with whom they interact. They assume they are entitled to leadership roles or that their opinions should not be questioned. These are the people who seek to influence outcomes and form alliances to preserve their power-base; all the while acting as if they are perceived to be principled and, therefore, above reproach.

Self-righteousness is certainly exhibited with attitude; however, it reveals an underlying character flaw. This character flaw must be addressed with deep self-examination and concerted effort to modify this behavior. The circumstances that lead to someone recognizing their self-righteousness are likely painful. Without an event that produces an abrupt and piercing emotional pain many are unable to begin to understand and take responsibility for the effects of their behavior on others. For those who make this transition the characteristics of acceptance, forgiveness and humility soften their hard edges.

How do you function in situations where group dynamics bring out a variety of personality types? What are your deep motives as you participate? Do you talk critically about the strong personalities to others outside of the group discussion? How do you want others to see you and your role in the group?

For more information on the concepts and methods of self-examination, please visit our web site or to acquire the book go to

Recognizing Our True Behavior – Patience

I thought I was being Patient, until I saw I was being Stubborn.

Patience, in the adjective form, implies acceptance or tolerance of delays or problems without becoming annoyed or anxious. Patience, therefore, is a function of not seeing ourselves as more important that others. Things are allowed to be as they are without any effort on our part to manage or control to have what we desire. In fact, the lack of annoyance or anxiety means we are at ease with the situation even though we may not understand or appreciate it.

Being stubborn has some similar elements in that we do not actively intervene in a situation. But stubbornness exists without the acceptance that comes with patience. Usually stubbornness comes with a dissatisfaction or even disgust with what is happening. Even though we may stand quietly in the background, there is an air of frustration and disapproval in how we view the situation. Such feelings of non-acceptance are expressed in facial expressions and body language that are nearly impossible to hide.

In order to transition from stubbornness to patience we use the three principles of Acceptance, Forgiveness and Humility. For many of us this implies a form of weakness or passivity that seem to be at odds with the strong, self-directed image we like to project. However, each of these three principles need to be applied toward ourselves so they can feel what is going on inside us and therefore have an impact on what is going on outside us.

We need to accept our true nature, our natural aversion to unstructured or even chaotic situations. Only then can we show patience to what is going on outside us. Similarly, we need to forgive ourselves for the limits of our patience that compels us to attempt to take control. Without cutting ourselves some slack, we are not likely to show patience. Patience is an act of humility. When we have a modest view of our own importance we are more likely to fit ourselves to what is.

List a few incidences when you experienced some impatience. How might you have handled the situation with more patience and how would that have affected the outcome of the situation?

For more information on the concepts and methods of self-examination, please visit our web site or to acquire the book go to