By Tom Kneier, Licensed Professional Counselor
Humility. Webster says it derives from the Latin, humilis, for the word humble, meaning “lowly, insignificant, on the ground”; similar to the Latin word, humus – rich soil. It generates a picture of getting close to the earth; even in the dirt. For those of us in the field of therapy, it might conjure up the word “grounded”. And this is most appropriate.
Being grounded in the therapeutic setting is about being attuned to the present; giving full attention to the moment. I’ve seen my clients, who suffer from anxiety and overwhelm, preoccupied with the future and worst case scenarios. What if this happens? What if she does that? What if I can’t (fill in the blank)? Their worry is fueled by tomorrows that are completely outside their control.
Many effective interventions are rooted in refocusing clients on the present. Things like deep diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and attentiveness to what is being experienced through the five senses at that moment in the room and in one’s chair, including feeling your two feet firmly planted on the ground.
What an apt concept for humility. When your two feet are on the ground, you can see where you stand in relation to others and to the rest of the world. You know who you are, and who you are not! I know that when I see myself accurately this way, I am profoundly humbled.
Phillipians 2: 3-4 instructs us to “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” (NRSV) To be truly grounded then in humility, is not about thinking little of yourself, but seeing yourself accurately in the service of others.