Anna Wardwell is a writer and yoga teacher based in Bennington, VT.

Humility

Humility:  a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness

Humility. It’s what I need the most at this exact moment. Humility is not a trait that I relate to on a deep level. While I have often felt, and feel, unworthy, undeserving, unlovable and taken advantage of, being humble is not something that I can truthfully be charged with. People often mistake my quiet exterior for humbleness. Little do they know that I am judging and evaluating, measuring them against myself. Those measured against myself are always found wanting. Always.

It’s a defense mechanism, I guess. My constant need to tell myself that I’m better than, smarter than, funnier than.... It’s more than a defense mechanism. It’s how I survive. In a life filled with bad choices and even worse breaks, knowing deep down that I’m better than most everyone I come into contact with is what makes me feel like I am enough. Is it ok to think that “I Am Enough” when that belief only comes by subjugating others to inflate my self worth? No. Obviously not. But in a world where I am unloved, undeserving, not the best and not the smartest, it’s how I survived. I willed my current self into existence through disdain for others I deemed unworthy.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” Theodore Roosevelt apparently said that.  And god dammit if he isn’t right. There’s no joy in the comparison of myself to others, even though I’m the only judge so I always come out on top. No, at points in my life I have been decidedly joyless. When I was berating employees for showing up five minutes late. When I was calling someone a liar and instructing them to stop talking. When I asked someone who made a simple mistake if they were fucking stupid. For me, shame, not sorrow, is the opposite of joy. Shame is a powerful emotion that weighs on your soul like no other. I have a very deep and intimate relationship with shame. It’s one sided though. Only shame gets what he wants. I think I want to break up.

I am changing, though. It didn’t happen quickly, and it's still happening. I got tired of being so heavy. Now, instead of meeting someone and immediately throwing them on the other side of the scale, I take a deep breath and I listen. I observe and interact. I ask questions. It’s this new thing I’m trying out where I get to know a person before judging them and deciding their fate in my life. It’s working. My feelings about other people  don’t leave me feeling weighed down with shame like they have for so long. I’ve even made new friends and felt happy.

Maybe I’m too hard on myself. Maybe I’m not quite as bad as all that. I hope not. But, this is an aspect of who I am, and even though it’s shrinking and I can’t make it disappear fast enough, it is real. So I’d like to invite a little more humility into my life. So that, maybe, I can be forgiven. And start to repair my karma. I want to offer myself to this world and the people on it. To use whatever gifts I may actually possess to be of service. I dedicated my practice to that today. I prayed for humility. I asked God, “please let me humbly serve you.” And I repeated it until it became my mantra. And when I came to my knees, closed my eyes and opened my palms to the sky to receive, someone grabbed on.

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