Humility is a word we don’t like much when we first get sober. We hear our sponsors say it, our therapists say it, our mentors say it. Have humility. Be grateful. Be humble. As Kendrick Lamar recently put it, “Sit down. Be humble.” Real humility isn’t pretending to be humble by having some gratitude. Both humble and humility have the same origin- the latin prefix hum.

Down To Earth

You might notice that hum also belongs to human. The prefix comes from the Latin word humus which means earth and ground. Humanus, another latin term, means man. To be humble means to have or to show “a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance”. Confidence is one thing. Arrogance is another. Anyone can be confident and pleased with themselves. Arrogance means heading toward the idea that you are somehow better than, or even different than, anyone else. More specifically, any other human. Humility means just about the same thing, with an added definition of “lack of pride, lack of vanity”. Being humble and having humility is not the same thing as thinking you’re worthless. Instead, it’s getting back down to earth about who you are as a human. You’re getting into the roots of your existence- a human being, with blood, flesh, bone, and brain, just like everyone else.

Benefit One: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

We call it all kinds of different things: ruffling your feathers, puffing your chest, and other animalistic references. When we get all hopped up on ourselves, we’re usually heading for damage control. That is, damage control for our precious ego. We want so badly to be different from other people. Our feelings of low self-worth and low self-esteem as addicts and alcoholics fuel what we often call in recovery to be our “terminal uniqueness”. Even sitting in a room of people who are all struggling with addiction, we make comparisons to make ourselves feel above or below others. Everyone is addicted. Everyone is struggling. Everyone is working hard to recover. Our ego and our pride can take us right out of recovery when we convince ourselves we aren’t “that bad” and we don’t get down to the roots of our problem. Humility helps us realize, it is indeed that bad and it’s probably worse than we think. Being humble helps us see that our addiction is much, much bigger than our self-centered thinking allows us to comprehend.

Benefit Two: Better Yourself Without Being Better Than Others

Since having humility and being humble is such a game changer, we are able to change the game. Our game, that is. Once we have a realistic idea of where we are at in our addiction and recovery, as well as our place in the world, we can set out on a path of personal development to become better than we are now. The only person we have to compare ourselves to is who we were yesterday. In recovery, we’re taking things one day at a time, and making great strides in the process. Having real humility helps come to terms with the fact that we’re addicted and living an addicted lifestyle. From rock bottom, the only way is up.


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