Hu­mil­ity: the ac­cep­tance of our flawed self

Sunday Observer - - YOUTH SECTION - BY SIBUSISO DLAMINI

In­to­day’s cul­ture the chil­dren are of­ten taught that they are per­fect, they al­ways win­ners and they can never do wrong. Par­ents are con­stantly cod­dling and pro­tect­ing their self-es­teem. They guard their chil­dren from any ex­pe­ri­ences of neg­a­tiv­ity, hard­ship, or fail­ure. They teach their chil­dren that as long as they ‘be them­selves’ then they de­serve to be re­warded for it un­con­di­tion­ally.

As a re­sult, we grow up with the be­lief that ‘’I de­serve all the hap­pi­ness and suc­cess in the world ex­actly as I am. And any­one that de­nies me this thing is wrong. ‘’ we have be­come self-cen­tered, ego­is­ti­cal, and en­ti­tled. We be­gin to be­lieve that we de­serve ev­ery­thing for noth­ing, be­cause were never put in work to earn some­thing our­selves.

Self-es­teem isn’t nec­es­sar­ily the best force that drives good char­ac­ter even though our so­ci­ety tends to highly em­pha­sise it. In­stead what’s most im­por­tant to­day is to cul­ti­vate hu­mil­ity and mod­esty. As painful as it can be, we need to ac­knowl­edge our weak­ness and lim­i­ta­tions more of­ten. We need to re­in­sti­tute the con­cept of a ‘’flawed self’- a self that is hyp­o­crit­i­cal, bro­ken and highly prone to be­ing wrong and mak­ing mis­takes.

It’s only when we ac­cept this flawed self that we can truly em­bark on self-im­prove­ment and the build- ing of good char­ac­ter. But if we al­ways pre­tend we can do no wrong then we will never change or grow as in­di­vid­u­als. Hu­mil­ity doesn’t al­ways come nat­u­rally to peo­ple. If any­thing, we of­ten wired to be over- con­fi­dent in our­selves. We think were smarter than we re­ally are. We think we bet­ter than we re­ally are. And we think us morally su­pe­rior than we re­ally are. Hu­mil­ity helps curb this never end­ing over con­fi­dence.

What hu­mil­ity teaches us?

You are not per­fect – I am not per­fect, I’ve made mis­takes in the past and I will make mis­takes in the fu­ture. There will al­ways be some things you want to change about your­self. You are never an end­ing project.

You don’t know ev­ery­thing-I’m not as smart as I think I am. I of­ten over­es­ti­mate how much I know about a par­tic­u­lar sub­ject, and it’s im­por­tant for me to ac­cept the wisdom of ig­no­rance.

Your feel­ings don’t al­ways serve me- when you ac­cept my flawed self, you ac­cept that some­times I need to fight against your nat­u­ral de­sires and im­pulses when they don’t serve your best in­ter­est. Your emo­tions can some­times mis­guide you.

Ac­cept your weak­ness- like ev­ery­one else, we have both strengths and weak­nesses, ‘I only make my­self more sus­cep­ti­ble to give into them and re­peat them’. I need to ac­cept my weak­nesses be­fore I can be­gin to work on them.

It’s okay to seek help out­side your­self - when we ac­cept our flaws and lim­i­ta­tions, I recog­nise that some­times I need to seek help out­side to get past dif­fi­cult times in my life. You shouldn’t feel ashamed when you need to ask an­other per­son for help or as­sis­tance.

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