Thinking of Myself
Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.
Humility is related to being comfortable with who you are, and aware of your strengths and weaknesses. It’s obvious when someone thinks that they are superior and has no regard for other people. But there are more subtle forms of egotism. Whenever I think more about myself than the other person, I put myself above them. This doesn’t mean I should be a doormat and not consider my needs and desires. But it does mean that I need to be able to put those aside long enough to hear what the other person is actually saying. And I need to be aware of how my story about myself colors how I interpret their words or actions.
When I feel good about myself, I can listen without interjecting my view. But the times when I’m anxious, stressed, or depressed, and need to feel in charge in order to feel better about myself or my situation, I don’t listen. I hijack the conversation. “Somehow” it gets back to me and my experiences and what I think the other person should do. Sometimes, I admit, I get carried away by my desire to share my knowledge and overwhelm the other person with all my suggestions and tips. They end up feeling inadequate instead of better equipped.
I am trying to be more of a “joy multiplier” instead of a “thunder stealer.” A joy multiplier is someone who can listen to another person, especially when they are describing a happy event, and ask questions to help them relive the excitement or joy that they experienced. A thunder stealer is someone who asks questions that bring up potential problems with the event. For instance, when someone tells me that they just got a promotion, I might ask how they’ll fit in all the new responsibilities with their already limited time or if it’s really in line with what they want to be doing. My comments deflate the person instead of helping them recapture the happiness, pride, relief or whatever they feel about the event. These may be valid issues, but that isn’t the time to bring them up. My job is to step back and let the other person shine or figure out their own solution. I need to focus on them and not turn the focus on me.