“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels”Saint Augustine
Humility seems to have lost the battle against pride. Our world of social media has provided the perfect stage for narcissism and self-aggrandizement with the world of illusion taking precedence over what is real and a fake.
On one of my Camino walks in northwestern Spain I met a pilgrim who told me: “If you don’t walk the Path with humility it will force you into humility.”
Walking the Camino is in so many ways walking through life. Every day the path has new lessons to learn where the pilgrim is confronted with new and old emotional demons.
The last section before reaching a destination is sometimes the most difficult. You are relieved that you have reached the top of a mountain and then you find that you still have another even bigger mountain to climb.
It is why so many people who started walking the Camino as hikers ended their journey as pilgrims, learning on the Path that when going slow and finding that inner rhythm, external personality merges with the internal needs of the soul.
An emotional and physical breakdown leads to the breakthrough
When we are confronted with adversity and almost insurmountable challenges, the path of life forces us from pride into humility. The wounded soul is cracked open for the light to shine into that inner truth.
Sometimes you have to shut a door and walk away from everything in order to rediscover who you really are. You are forced into falling forward and opening a new door.
David Bowie once said that “aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.”
The elderly person surrenders to the cycle of life, the inevitability of death. There is nothing more to prove. There is a quiet solitude and acceptance. It is the same when an identity built on the weak foundations of personality breaks apart after a financial disaster, the loss of a job or a divorce.
Transformation begins where the world of certainty crumbles
There is a deep human need to be seen, to be heard and to have certainty. But when the world of certainty crumbles truth is revealed. This is the opportunity for real transformation and recognition of soul.
Pride and narcissism is about self-interest while humility is focused on being of service. If people are in search of their calling and having difficulty in finding an answer the clue is always in finding that niche where individual talent finds expression in the act of service for the bigger whole. You will have surrendered to that bigger plan that the universe has in store for you.
What is humility and what is pride?
Humble people are unafraid of expressing their vulnerability, and pain, and to seek help. They are listeners rather than talkers. They accept the transitions of life and are willing to learn from them while the narcissist in his pride is always right and is immersed in the illusion that the world is owing to him. He will always blame other people for his failures and take accolades for accomplishments that were none of his doing. Too many of such people find themselves in leadership positions causing much pain and suffering to all those around and ultimately to themselves.
Humility and adversity teach us that we always have another mountain to climb during life’s up-and-down cycles. Climbing those mountains make us more resilient. As long as we are alive we are never done as human beings. It is during those moments when we think that we are done that life inevitably throws another lesson at our feet.
Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker
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One response to “Humility and the lessons of adversity”
I’m fairly ashamed of times in my life, where with my current perspective i was quite narcissistic. Fortunately for me, the universe gave me some precious, valuable lessons, which helped me shed pride.