Humility is a tough issue to wrap your head around. I once heard somebody say “if you think you’re humble, then that’s the first sign that you aren’t.” It seems the only way to know is to ask somebody else – and even asking the question can be perceived as a failure. So what, then? How do we know if we have a balanced perspective? It would seem that the right answer is to not worry about the issue at all. But is that possible? It’s going to come up, whether it’s dealing with a positive review, a negative review, a performance evaluation at work, a criticism, a compliment – let’s face it, this comes up frequently. We have to be very careful how we think about ourselves, because there are a lot of people who try to raise themselves up by putting others down (see my blogs on December 17 and January 7.) In fact, it seems to be on the rise. How do you stand against the "Snarky Epidemic" without falling into it?
I think the key to a balanced self-perspective is to set realistic goals, and do your best. For example, it’s the start of a new year, and a lot of people have weight loss goals. “I want to lose 20 pounds this year!” Unfortunately, your body might not be able to reach that number on the plan you’re following. I speak from experience when I say that diet and exercise do change your body, and sometimes that’s not reflected by the number on the scale. I tend to build muscle, so my weight shifts instead of drops. The number on the scale is the same, but my clothes fit differently. How can I tell if it’s worth it? I have to judge by how I feel, instead of what the scale says. I can’t succeed with “goal weights,” but I can succeed by establishing healthy habits so I feel my best.
Sometimes we have to learn to discern the “constructive criticism” from uncontrollable reality and subjective responses, and this is tough. Another personal example: how should I respond to getting a negative book review in the same week that I win an award and my book sales spike? Do I still suck as a writer, or have I improved? It would depend on who you ask, and much of what they think depends on their personal taste. Everybody isn't going to love my writing, and there will be bad reviews from time to time. It happens to all writers, even the best sellers. it just goes with the territory. All I can do is keep studying the craft of writing, keep writing, and keep publishing. I can’t control reader responses. All I can do is my best, to try to draw what I can from the responses, and to keep moving on. I know I’m not the best writer in the world, but I’m not the worst, either.
That’s how it is with most things. Most of us are somewhere in the middle. There will always be people better than us, and there will always be people worse than us. Try not to fixate too much on whether you’re on the mountaintop, in the valley, or somewhere in the middle (where most of us spend most of our time). Enjoy the blessings you have today, always do your best, and take advantage of every opportunity to sow good seeds and improve tomorrow.
Yes, it hurts to get knocked down. Disappointment is painful, but it’s not fatal. So far, we all have a 100% success rate in surviving it. That’s a good starting point to gain wisdom and get back up again. You will improve and better times will come. They always do.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great week.