An excerpt from The Self-Aware Life
by Nancy S. Kay

Humility, genuine humility, is a rare and precious characteristic. It is not low self-esteem but the ability to allow another the place of honor and to be fully transparent without shame. I believe humility is often misunderstood. Our attempts at humility often fall ever so short. It doesn’t matter how spiritually attuned we may be, humility is hard to maintain. Humility is the second key in living the intentional, self-aware life. It is the characteristic that urges us to go more than halfway to meet the needs and requests of others. It defeats aggression and pride. Rather than “Me first,” humility says, “No, you first.”

It is possible to maintain confidence about who we are – our achievements and worth – and maintain a sense of humility.  Humility is self-confidence.  It allows others to be the center of attention, and accept and acknowledge the work, talents, abilities, and authority of others.  Humility brings contentment and an inner peace and is captured in the bold act of admitting that we made a mistake.  It is being truthful about our shortcomings; and as we accept our own shortcomings, we can accept others’ as well.



There are times when choosing to be humble is particularly difficult and any attempt at meekness fails. If we find ourselves in such a situation, consider developing a plan to ensure that the circumstances don’t lead us to lose our grace. Below are some helpful approaches to handling a difficult situation.

Reflect. Take the time to think and reflect on what would be the best approach. Catch yourself if you blindly slip into preaching or parenting a friend, a co-worker, or a spouse.

Seek. Ask for others’ input on how you are doing with listening. Help them see you are trying to understand their point of view. Ask, “How am I doing?” It takes humility to ask such a question and even more humility to consider the answer.

Stop. Learning to listen is essential to being humble. Stop talking and allow the other person to be the focus of attention. There is something very liberating in this strategy. This will help you to not just be genuine teller of the truth, but a genuine listener of the truth as well.


Speak. State back what you have heard, and see if what you are hearing is what they are trying to communicate. It is with openness you demonstrate your sincere desire to hear what is being spoken, allowing real connection and communication to occur.


When we practice humility, the intentional self-aware life is evident. Self-awareness grows, careers blooms, and relationships are repaired.


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