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By Mark Anthony Lord

Being humble and experiencing humiliation are very different things. However, our minds tell us they are very similar if not the same. Therefore, we tend to try to stay far away from both.

I was often humiliated and bullied as a little kid. It was painful and scary. To protect myself, I put up a wall built out of “I don’t care what you think of me,” and, “I don’t need you or anyone else.” But behind that wall was a deeply held belief that there was something inherently wrong with me, and I needed to do everything I could to cover it up and hide.

Humiliation and bullying during childhood caused me to feel great shame, which made me unwilling to let people into my heart and to let them see my insecurities. I officially started playing the game of “I’ll pretend I’m OK when I’m really not” at around age 5. Needless to say, I became an expert at it. And I carried that expertise into adulthood.

When I entered 12-step recovery for sex and love addiction in my mid-20s, I was in so much emotional and psychological pain that I had to change or else. The first step in my process of recovery and healing was to become humble and to admit I needed help.

My problem was I could not discern the difference between being humble and being humiliated. They both felt so vulnerable, and they both had an inherent letting go of control, which was (and still is) frightening for me.

Over time and with practice, I learned that being humble is sacred and the portal to great power. It creates the opening needed for God (i.e., Love, Higher Power, Universe, Source, Energy, etc.) to come in and to provide relief, insight, change, connection, and support.

Humiliation closes us down, ignites fear, and causes great pain. Humility opens us up and moves us through our fear into a new freedom.

We are spiritual beings and we reveal that through humility. That is how we let our Higher Power, however we conceive of that power, have its way.

Ask yourself: In what ways is your recovery asking you to be humble, to admit you need help, and to let go and allow that help to come? Then ask yourself if you are needlessly suffering because you fear the humiliation of people thinking you are weak or that you don’t have your shit together?

If you’re like me, you’ll realize through these questions that you can be humble without being humiliated. You’ll realize its OK for you to not have it all together and to ask for help, and that doing so actually makes you stronger.

And that’s the great news here. If we give up the ghost of pretending we’ve got everything under control and we ask for help, our Higher Power will help us to get and keep our shit together. Way better than you could ever manage on our own. 

Putting This into Practice

Becoming humble without feeling humiliated is not easy for most of us. It takes practice. I suggest that you start with the following action:

Pray every morning and every night on your knees with your head bowed. Ask for your Higher Power’s guidance, protection, and support in remaining sober and being of service to others.

If you find yourself resisting this idea, you’re not alone. I often get resistance to this suggestion, but I am fearless in my conviction that this is one of the best possible ways of being humble. Taking a moment to get down on your knees represents a beautiful humbling to your Higher Power; it is a posture that shows that you are teachable and willing to grow with the help of your Higher Power.


Mark Anthony Lord is a spiritual counselor and recovery coach. He can be reached through his website.