So here’s the thing. I’m terrified of feeling humiliated. It flattens me right out. Here’s the other thing. I’m well aware that I inflict the humiliated state upon myself. It’s just so hard to resist. After all, we’ve become so close over the years. I’m not sure where I would be without it, but I sure would love to find out.
In case you’re not up on your Latin, the word humiliation comes from humiliare, which means “to humble.” It involves others and results in a loss of self-esteem and self-respect. One of its primary synonyms is mortification, which comes from the Latin word mortificare, meaning “to put to death.”
A few days ago I fell into a dark, albeit familiar, state of mortificare. I wasn’t physically put to death (might have been more fun) but my ego was so badly triggered that my light was snuffed out for a good 48 hours. The story is that I was thoroughly enjoying the adventure of landing on the keyboard and allowing the writing to unfold. I shared my words and the kind, encouraging feedback started to roll in. I felt more inspired than I have in ages. Then, BAM. Two conversations with people who didn’t seem to admire my efforts. Two brief, dismissive, perhaps even incredulous-sounding reactions and I was sent swirling down into the toilet. Humiliated, mortified, done. I alternated between pulling the covers over my head and yelling about the ignorance of the so-called humiliators. How dare they, what if they’re right, how dare they, what if….
I exhausted myself, crawling out of my skin and searching for comfort that was nowhere to be found. Hours passed. Finally, I heard a faint, reasonable voice arise in my heart. It posed the same question that I know to offer to all of my buddies when they feel defeated. What is the opportunity here? What is this challenge revealing to you and how can you use it to grow? Take responsibility for your reaction, it said. That alone is causing your upset.
Then it came to me. I entitled my writing “Humble Alchemy” as a promise to myself to write about transformation with humility. To keep it light and not take myself too seriously. To offer my words as a service without any expectations. I started to feel a bit calmer. I got it. I was thrown by the shiny feedback, the validation that I might have something worthwhile to offer. The promise of some distant “success.” I was flying high, too high it seems, as evidenced by the painful crash. I had lost track of my intention to open my heart, listen to my muse, trust the process, and let the words come as they may. The cost of caring so deeply about what others think is steep and has no place when sharing your soul. I know that I can’t afford it.
I understand. Staying humble prevents humiliation. Not an easy feat for our ego minds but I will accept the challenge. You?
With gratitude for you and this opportunity to grow together. Jane