Humility is a quality with many aspects. It is the fruit of good self-knowledge and acceptance but also an opportunity to become a better person.
Definition: What is it to have humility? What does it mean ?
Etymologically, the word “humility” comes from the Latin “humilitas” (itself derived from “humus” which translates as “the earth”) and means that which is physically low. According to the French Academy, humility is “the quality of someone who recognizes their weaknesses, their limits, and who behaves with simplicity and modesty“. A definition shared by Jessica Sotto, clinical psychologist in Essonne: “humility is a human virtue and an attitude. It is the ability to know one’s errors, one’s limits, to take responsibility for one’s actions and their consequences, to know who one is. It is linked to open-mindedness, reflection, questioning“, she explains. To be humble is to have the feeling that we do not know everything, that we have limits and to know how to recognize them. What the philosopher Socrates summed up by saying: “I know I don’t know anything“, thus demonstrating his intellectual humility which led him to continuous learning.
Some quotes on humility
The French philosopher André Comte-Sponville writes in his book “Little Treatise of the Great Virtues” about the humility that she “is not ignorance of what we are, but rather knowledge or recognition of what we are not. (…) Humility is a lucid virtue (…) of the man who knows that he is not God. (…) To be humble is to love the truth more than oneself“.
For the essayist and Tibetan Buddhist monk, Matthieu Ricard, “humility does not consist of considering oneself inferior, but of being freed from self-importance“.
What is the synonym of humility?
Humility is synonymous with several other qualities such as modesty, simplicity, reserve, sobriety… A humble person will therefore tend to let everyone shine, not wanting to put themselves forward and will know how to stay in their place.
What is the opposite of a person who acts with complete humility?
Conversely, character traits such as pride, pretension, arrogance, etc. are opposed to humility. They are perceived as negative by society because the person who shows himself in this way puts himself forward to the detriment of others, does not know how to recognize his limits, his errors… Enough to cultivate contrasting feelings towards him.
What can be proofs of humility? What are its characteristics?
Evidence of humility is often manifested in everyday actions and attitudes. This can go through:
Admit an error: Humility comes down to accepting one’s imperfections, to admitting, for example, one’s mistakes instead of denying them. It thus constitutes a first step towards personal improvement. Thus, a person who openly acknowledges a mistake they have made instead of making excuses or blaming others, demonstrates humility and demonstrates a willingness to learn and improve.
Listen carefully : In conversation, a humble person actively listens to and values the opinions of others, even if they differ from their own. She does not monopolize the discussion and does not try to impose her point of view.
Recognize the success of others: A humble person celebrates the achievements of others without envying or being jealous of them. It recognizes that everyone has strengths and deserved successes.
Show gratitude: A humble person expresses gratitude for the little things in life. She may sincerely thank someone for their time, support, or an act of kindness. She recognizes how lucky she is, doesn’t take what she has for granted, and is grateful for what she is given.
Accept criticism constructively: Rather than being defensive, a humble person receives criticism with openness. She views constructive feedback as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Share credit: At work or in a team project, a humble person shares the credit for success with his colleagues. She recognizes that this is often the result of a collective effort.
Recognize your limits and your own ignorance: She readily admits when she doesn’t know something or comes up against her limits. She accepts her own imperfections and does not try to hide her mistakes. She recognizes them, is ready to learn from others, without feeling bad about it, and seeks to improve herself. She is curious and constantly seeks to acquire new knowledge.
Be empathetic: A humble person often strives to understand the emotions of others and put himself in their shoes. She shows compassion and is also understanding of the mistakes they may make. Rather than condemning or harshly criticizing them, she can adopt a compassionate attitude and offer support to help them improve. “Being humble also means showing empathy and open-mindedness. We are more open to the emotions of others and less focused on ourselves, wanting to defend our point of view. Humility is knowing how to question yourself. We have better self-esteem and we gain peace of mind. We then move away from feelings of comparison and jealousy“, explains Jessica Sotto. Humility allows us to better understand and accept the experiences and points of view of others. This promotes more harmonious relationships, whether within family, friends, or professional settings.
Show patience: A humble person is able to demonstrate patience in the face of challenges and difficult circumstances. She does not get carried away by impulsiveness, but seeks to understand the situation and solve problems thoughtfully.
Be modest: Humble people do not seek to boast or draw attention to themselves. They prefer to stay in the background and not highlight their achievements.
L’absence d’arrogance : Humility means the absence of arrogance, pretension or condescension towards others. Humble individuals treat others with respect and equality.
Can we be too humble?
The benefits of humility are therefore numerous. Conversely, can’t showing a lot of humility in one’s daily actions harm the person, bully them, prevent them from revealing their full personality? “In my opinion, there is no excess of humility possible. Otherwise it is because we are not aware of our abilities or our limits, of what we are. If we tend to belittle what we do, we tend to rely on modesty or even false modesty to respond to a social convention. But humility is more intrinsic. If we are too focused on our weaknesses, it is a sign of a lack of self-esteem which can lead to a pathological disorder. We leave the framework of humility“, analyzes the clinical psychologist.
What explains a lack of humility?
Humility is a human virtue specific to each person but it can be developed or, on the contrary, diminished by environment and education. “Humility is having good self-esteem, therefore good knowledge and acceptance of who we are. Education influences self-esteem. If we are denigrated or those close to us have too high demands on us, our self-esteem will be affected and become unstable.“, specifies Jessica Sotto. And this will have repercussions on humility.
Good in his body, good in his head!
How to cultivate humility?
In the same way that the environment in which a person operates can impact their self-esteem and humility, it can foster these qualities. Thus, loved ones who encourage and congratulate successes help to give the person good self-esteem. Cultivating humility is an ongoing process that requires reflection, practice and working on yourself to know yourself better. Everyone can therefore also act to improve themselves and develop their ability to be humble in life. To achieve this, you can start by working on yourself and changing certain behaviors towards yourself and others.
Question your ego: It’s about taking a step back to think about times when we may have been arrogant, conceited or belittled others. Becoming aware of these behaviors and thoughts is a first step in correcting them.
Show gratitude: Getting into the habit of recognizing the good things in your life and expressing gratitude helps you appreciate what you have and avoid taking things for granted.
Admit your mistakes: Rather than trying to hide or minimize our mistakes, we recognize them and ask ourselves what we can learn from them to improve.
Be open to learning: By recognizing that we don’t know everything, we can seek to acquire new skills and knowledge, whether in the professional field or in life in general.
Be patient : Becoming humble involves learning to manage frustration and impatience, taking the time to understand situations before reacting.
Listen actively: When conversing with someone, we focus on what they are saying. We ask him questions to better understand instead of thinking about what we are going to say to him next. We are open to divergent points of view because they can enrich our understanding.
Practice compassion: Put yourself in other people’s shoes to understand their emotions, their…