• Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD

Be Humble For Your Health

Updated: Sep 8, 2018

With so much information at your fingertips in books, blogs, ebooks, and websites galore, you may start to feel like there is nothing you cannot know, or at least learn more about. With that thought, I would say "You're wrong." It can be scary to think that there are some things in this world that are out of your control. Whether it be your health, your job prospects, how your kids are going to turn out, or if you will be able to pay your bills tomorrow. Knowledge can make you think you have it all under control, but there are some things in life that you just have to learn by experience. And it is this openness to experience that is one reason why being humble can be good for your health.

What is being humble exactly?

By definition, humble means being modest and being free from pride or arrogance. It may imply that a humble person is weak or does not stand up for themselves, but again you would be wrong, my friends. When a person is arrogant or thinks they know better than others, then this displays a sense of "I don't need your help. You need my help. Listen to me." When a person thinks this way, they can close their mind off to the concept that their way may not actually be the best way or only way to think or live. A humble person, on the other hand, is more open to listening, being intuitive to other's feelings and ideas, and in turn will be much more enriched with knowledge and insight than their pride-filled counterpart.

How do I know if I am humble?

There are many answers to this question. Let's start with asking yourself these questions.

  • Do you find yourself zoning off when others are talking, just waiting for them to stop so you can start telling them what they need to do?

  • Do you find yourself fact-checking or grammar-checking others while they are talking?

  • Are you more often then not sending self-help books as "gifts" to those family and friends in "need"? Or instead of simply saying "Good Morning" are you slipping in a link to a self-help blog?

  • Instead of compliments, do you more than often offer comments?

Now I am not saying I have never been guilty of such things. Believe me I have, and I still catch myself saying things like this sometimes. What I can tell you though is that actions and words like these can make people feel very small and can sting the heart and soul. Although some people may not speak the facts, or may be grammatically incorrect, you have to ask yourself if it is better to be right and embarrass this person, or just let an inaccuracy slide for the sake of building rapport. Over time, being proud in such ways can damage relationships and overall quality of life.

As a Virgo woman, I am known for being a bit biting and critical, but I also know what it feels like to be sensitive and easily wounded. Until recently I used to sting people that made me feel upset with myself as a way to exact a revenge of sorts. However, I soon realized that it doesn't help you or anyone else feel better by doing that. Instead, I have found that a simple conversation of vulnerability, honesty, and hard-core listening can often soften any lingering tension.

So, how does this affect health you may ask?

When I first graduated school and completed my dietetic internship, facts were my fire. I felt so knowledgeable that I wanted to share it with the world and I just knew that everyone would listen to me. Wrong! I would soon find out that listening to me tell them how many vegetables they should eat was the last thing on most patients' minds. Over time, I realized that by being more humble and a good listener, I could find out what was on their mind, what they were worried about, and what I could do to help them as best as I could. Then, and only then, would they even begin to listen to my advice.

Listening is a skill that is often overlooked in society today. With social media making messages of ordinary people go viral, everyone wants so badly to be heard that they forget to listen. If you take a moment each day to follow someone's story or ask someone about their day, you will be surprised at how enriched you will feel and you will have likely made someone's day.

Also, when things happen in life that scare us or embarrass us, it is common to deflect our feelings. What this means basically is that instead of being vulnerable or sharing how embarrassed, hurt, or upset we are, instead we may attack someone verbally to make them feel as bad as we do at that moment. Psychologists report that deflection is a way of dealing with emotions that we do not know how to quite express or deal with yet. Over time, continuation of deflection can lead to this dangerous coping mechanism being your default, and can in turn, damage your relationships with others and your overall quality of life.

In Psychology Today, they described humility, or being humble as a way of inviting people into your journey and walking together in life instead of pushing them away from you and against you. Furthermore, research shows that those who are more humble are:

  • more forgiving

  • have a greater sense of meaning in life

  • have a better self-rated health status

Being humble is not just good for your state of mind to make you more compassionate towards others, but it can make you more open to the possibilities that life has to offer. None of us are perfect, although we try so hard to fit the image of the blog posts we subscribe to. But this imperfection does not mean that we are undeserving of feeling loved, appreciated, and having the chance to be the healthiest we can be. Therefore, be open, be humble, and realize that every one of us was put here to give life our best shot. Let's support ourselves and each other in that journey.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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