When I was growing up, I learned that a good way to earn the disapproval of my mom, my grandmother, and all my aunties was to not be humble. Tell me if this isn’t true of you too!
While this is a good lesson, so often for women over time this lesson undergoes a transformation. It morphs from a simple lesson of pride and humility into a lifelong plan for self-denial. We take simple humbleness and turn it into a way of life that’s neither good for us or good for anyone around us.
Women can sometimes take good old fashioned humility and turn it into something else.
Why do we do this? Almost every woman I know has her own special brand of personal strength and enlightenment, yet every last one of them also practices a negative type of self-denial that seems to be at odds with everything they want out of life.
We do this because we confuse being humble with putting ourselves down. By no definition is self-shaming, self-denial, or downplaying yourself considered to be the kind of humility our grandmothers, mothers, and aunties meant us to practice.
Here’s how I remember to stay humble without diminishing myself.
I can tell you all about it because of course I’m guilty of confusing the two myself. I can think of at least several different times in my life when I’ve diminished myself simply because it seemed to smooth things over and make everyone around me more comfortable.
It took me years to unlearn the patterns I’d formed since childhood, confusing humbleness with negative self-denial. Whenever I need to remind myself of the difference between the two, I refer back to the wise words of Marianne Williamson:
“There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.”
I really couldn’t have put it better myself, so I share those words in the hope that they might inspire you too.
How about you?
Have you ever downplayed yourself and your accomplishments just to make others feel more comfortable? I’d love to know how you felt about it afterward and whether you would have done things differently if you had it to do all over again.