skyblue

Humility and Self Esteem

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Hi.

 

 

What exactly is humility? And how does one remain humble without hurting their self esteem (which can be extremely harmful, more so for cultivators)? How does one keep their self esteem relatively high without becoming arrogant?

 

 

I am probably misunderstanding something here, but when I read about becoming the lowest of the low (like water) and tried to emulate the mental quality in me, something felt very incongruent within. So I stopped doing that. However, doing it for quite a while (months) left a scar within me, so that whenever I did something, a part of me would desperately struggle to perform it better while constantly reminding me that I am not very good at it. This feeling has eased recently with careful and gentle contemplation, but it's still there. I would like to invite discussion on this topic to get more clarity and understanding about one of the fundamental qualities of Daoism.

Edited by skyblue
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I'll throw some examples of self-confidence without arrogance:

 

1) My friend has been working with computers since the 1980s. He is good at programming and even building his own computer, is a big player in AI, used to fix my computer because we're close. Someone who came from a Silicon Valley startup started insulting him and saying my friend doesn't know anything about computers or programming, and tried to "fix" his coding for a project in 2008. My friend just thought he was silly, and didn't even get offended, because he was confident in his own skill and didn't need anyone's validation or approval, let alone someone who actually didn't know as much as he believed he did. 

 

The end result was the arrogant SV idiot and his friends called him around 80x one evening because they were desperate for him to come help when they realized what he had coded was correct and what they tried to "fix" ended up causing problems that would have lost them clients, data, and funding. 

 

My friend refused to help. This was not arrogance, but sense of self-worth since he knows who he is and yet doesn't need to suffer abuse for the sake of someone else's mistakes, especially after their insults and how their apologies were not sincere, but rather to beg for his help before they began threatening and insulting him as he rightly predicted.

 

2) The same as above for me with people discussing fajin or internal power here claiming me and my lineage, teachers, and system aren't so great, and when I saw the videos of the individuals claiming they had all of the above but I did not, I laughed, showed my friends and classmates, and left it at that. 

 

Developing a healthy sense of Self rather than identity is part of how I find my own confidence, and being overconfident is likewise dangerous, so we recommend developing sensibility.

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31 minutes ago, skyblue said:

Hi.

 

 

What exactly is humility? And how does one remain humble without hurting their self esteem (which can be extremely harmful, more so for cultivators)? How does one keep their self esteem relatively high without becoming arrogant?

 

 

I am probably misunderstanding something here, but when I read about becoming the lowest of the low (like water) and tried to emulate the mental quality in me, something felt very incongruent within. So I stopped doing that. However, doing it for quite a while (months) left a scar within me, so that whenever I did something, a part of me would desperately struggle to perform it better while constantly reminding me that I am not very good at it. This feeling has eased recently with careful and gentle contemplation, but it's still there. I would like to invite discussion on this topic to get more clarity and understanding about one of the fundamental qualities of Daoism.

The problem is a result of identifixation as a limited person. The sense of “me, mine” is the source of trouble. Either dissolve it so there is no limited personhood anymore, or expand it so it becomes the whole universe. Easier said than done.

 

This “lowest of the low” (like water) can’t be forced. Water doesn’t have a sense of “me” and “mine”. Of course, how can it? It doesn’t have a mind. Yet it will flow wherever there is room. It doesn’t force its way (unless the circumstances makes it so that it moves with great force) — it just does what it’s in its true nature.
 

You put it in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You empty into a lake, it becomes the lake. It doesn’t crave to remain a bottle shaped unit of water. 

 

To be like water, is to let of of the limited sense of self. That limited personhood (mind, body, personality)  is like the bottle. What you are is the water in that bottle. But unlike the water in a bottle, you (we) have identifixated as the “bottle”. 
 

PS. Wrt “self-esteem” — you are the universe/Dao itself, what need is there for Self-esteem?

 

But of course, one might argue, “I don’t feel like the universe, i feel like a limited person…what hubris! Pfft! Me the Universe? No way!”

 

To that the response is, “you can’t pretend to be what you don’t feel. But you don’t feel it, because you don’t know your true nature yet. Find out where this “me” comes from. And you will become the Universe.” 

 

 

Edited by dwai
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Thanks for the interesting topic, Skyblue.  Perhaps you´ve come across a person on the forum who can be attacked by other members without feeling a need to fight back.  This person might say something in defense of themselves sure, but you get the sense that they´re OK with themselves whether they "win" the argument or not.  They can walk away and be no worse for wear, perhaps because their self-esteem isn´t dependent on being liked by strangers.  If this mythical person I´m describing sounds far-fetched, well, I hear ya.  I haven´t met many like that either.  But that to me is true humility: feeling comfortable enough with oneself that there´s nothing to prove.  Nothing in Taoism asks us to feel badly about ourselves, just the opposite.  To be like water is to feel so OK with yourself and the world around you that you can flow.  You´re not brittle.  Other people don´t have to do your bidding in order for you to feel OK.  True humility is self-esteem in action.  

 

 

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8 hours ago, skyblue said:

Hi.

 

 

What exactly is humility? And how does one remain humble without hurting their self esteem (which can be extremely harmful, more so for cultivators)? How does one keep their self esteem relatively high without becoming arrogant?

 

 

I am probably misunderstanding something here, but when I read about becoming the lowest of the low (like water) and tried to emulate the mental quality in me, something felt very incongruent within. So I stopped doing that. However, doing it for quite a while (months) left a scar within me, so that whenever I did something, a part of me would desperately struggle to perform it better while constantly reminding me that I am not very good at it. This feeling has eased recently with careful and gentle contemplation, but it's still there. I would like to invite discussion on this topic to get more clarity and understanding about one of the fundamental qualities of Daoism.

 

Just want to say - this is a really good question - and an excellent topic. I'll be sure to contribute soon.

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why would Humility damage Self-Esteem?

when one humbly enters the passageway with an open mind, open heart, with sincerity---the Gate Opens

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36 minutes ago, zerostao said:

why would Humility damage Self-Esteem?

when one humbly enters the passageway with an open mind, open heart, with sincerity---the Gate Opens


Some people think humility is a sign of weakness and surrendering power, or lack of it.

 

 I find the strongest people are humble because they have no need to prove their worth or strength.

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11 hours ago, Earl Grey said:

I'll throw some examples of self-confidence without arrogance:

 

1) My friend has been working with computers since the 1980s. He is good at programming and even building his own computer, is a big player in AI, used to fix my computer because we're close. Someone who came from a Silicon Valley startup started insulting him and saying my friend doesn't know anything about computers or programming, and tried to "fix" his coding for a project in 2008. My friend just thought he was silly, and didn't even get offended, because he was confident in his own skill and didn't need anyone's validation or approval, let alone someone who actually didn't know as much as he believed he did. 

 

The end result was the arrogant SV idiot and his friends called him around 80x one evening because they were desperate for him to come help when they realized what he had coded was correct and what they tried to "fix" ended up causing problems that would have lost them clients, data, and funding. 

 

My friend refused to help. This was not arrogance, but sense of self-worth since he knows who he is and yet doesn't need to suffer abuse for the sake of someone else's mistakes, especially after their insults and how their apologies were not sincere, but rather to beg for his help before they began threatening and insulting him as he rightly predicted.

 

2) The same as above for me with people discussing fajin or internal power here claiming me and my lineage, teachers, and system aren't so great, and when I saw the videos of the individuals claiming they had all of the above but I did not, I laughed, showed my friends and classmates, and left it at that. 

 

Developing a healthy sense of Self rather than identity is part of how I find my own confidence, and being overconfident is likewise dangerous, so we recommend developing sensibility.

With experience, the right experience, one develops confidence. Two words you used stick out to me. Sensibility, that you ended with and bolded, and sincere.

sincerity is never denied.

regardless of where anyone is; they have achieved abilities, powers, skills, there exist higher levels still, that is the beauty of it and where a little humility comes in, goes a long ways actually.

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14 hours ago, skyblue said:

What exactly is humility? And how does one remain humble without hurting their self esteem (which can be extremely harmful, more so for cultivators)? How does one keep their self esteem relatively high without becoming arrogant?

 

So here's the issue.

 

14 hours ago, skyblue said:

becoming the lowest of the low (like water)

 

In essence, Humility is selflessness... similar to what Dwai says... similar to what Early Grey says here:

 

13 hours ago, Earl Grey said:

healthy sense of Self rather than identity

 

So it is possible to contrive Humility by making the self small - 'the lowest of the low'.

 

The problem is, that this is still the self... this isn't Humility, it's a kind of false-humility. It's an affectation the self adopts to seem a certain way... kinda like the 'victim mentality'. It is, in a way, another way for the self to create more self.

 

The difficulty in releasing the 'self-creating-tendencies' is that you must have a strong enough self esteem to begin to release these tendencies.

 

When your self feels threatened it can only hold on for dear life.

 

When your self is under pressure - and you then try to subdue it - it's like forcing a frightened cat into a box - it'll scratch, hiss and fight back out of self preservation.

 

But when the cat feels safe and secure in its environment - all you have to do is introduce a box - and in it goes by itself.

 

When you feel strong enough in yourself that you can handle most threats, you can actually let go.

 

So first develop some ease within yourself. Self esteem doesn't have to be arrogant - it doesn't have to be a contrived confidence thing at all. It's just a deep belief that overall you're ok... your life is ok... you can handle things. If you feel a lack in some aspect of life... if you feel incapable in some way, notice it and take care of it.

 

Martial arts is how it was done in the olden days... but that's just one avenue - maybe find a way to talk to the kind of people that you normally feel threatened by... or figure out how to solve some area where you feel you're lacking. Talk to other people about this... sometimes you'll learn that your perspective isn't quite right - maybe you feel like you're socially awkward, but actually you come across very well to others.

 

Once you feel comfortable in yourself - then you can begin to explore humility.

 

Start with the easy stuff - humility before the divine is a good place to start. This is what makes prayer powerful (genuine prayer, not an 'o lord will you buy me a mercedes benz')

 

Then begin to evaluate your interactions with people...

 

Was what I said a way to bolster my status to that person?

 

Did I put that other person down as a way to bring myself up?

 

Did I do that out of true kindness or was it to look good, or be liked?

 

Simply pay attention to your 'self-creating-tendencies' - notice them, that's all.

 

And if you're strong and secure enough internally, eventually you'll be like the cat presented with an empty box.

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13 minutes ago, freeform said:

 

So here's the issue.

 

 

In essence, Humility is selflessness... similar to what Dwai says... similar to what Early Grey says here:

 

 

So it is possible to contrive Humility by making the self small - 'the lowest of the low'.

 

The problem is, that this is still the self... this isn't Humility, it's a kind of false-humility. It's an affectation the self adopts to seem a certain way... kinda like the 'victim mentality'. It is, in a way, another way for the self to create more self.

 

The difficulty in releasing the 'self-creating-tendencies' is that you must have a strong enough self esteem to begin to release these tendencies.

 

When your self feels threatened it can only hold on for dear life.

 

When your self is under pressure - and you then try to subdue it - it's like forcing a frightened cat into a box - it'll scratch, hiss and fight back out of self preservation.

 

But when the cat feels safe and secure in its environment - all you have to do is introduce a box - and in it goes by itself.

 

When you feel strong enough in yourself that you can handle most threats, you can actually let go.

 

So first develop some ease within yourself. Self esteem doesn't have to be arrogant - it doesn't have to be a contrived confidence thing at all. It's just a deep belief that overall you're ok... your life is ok... you can handle things. If you feel a lack in some aspect of life... if you feel incapable in some way, notice it and take care of it.

 

Martial arts is how it was done in the olden days... but that's just one avenue - maybe find a way to talk to the kind of people that you normally feel threatened by... or figure out how to solve some area where you feel you're lacking. Talk to other people about this... sometimes you'll learn that your perspective isn't quite right - maybe you feel like you're socially awkward, but actually you come across very well to others.

 

Once you feel comfortable in yourself - then you can begin to explore humility.

 

Start with the easy stuff - humility before the divine is a good place to start. This is what makes prayer powerful (genuine prayer, not an 'o lord will you buy me a mercedes benz')

 

Then begin to evaluate your interactions with people...

 

Was what I said a way to bolster my status to that person?

 

Did I put that other person down as a way to bring myself up?

 

Did I do that out of true kindness or was it to look good, or be liked?

 

Simply pay attention to your 'self-creating-tendencies' - notice them, that's all.

 

And if you're strong and secure enough internally, eventually you'll be like the cat presented with an empty box.

 

Are you ever going to finish that book of yours or just keep posting teasers for us here on this forum? :D

Edited by Earl Grey
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19 hours ago, skyblue said:

However, doing it for quite a while (months) left a scar within me, so that whenever I did something, a part of me would desperately struggle to perform it better while constantly reminding me that I am not very good at it. This feeling has eased recently with careful and gentle contemplation, but it's still there. I would like to invite discussion on this topic to get more clarity and understanding about one of the fundamental qualities of Daoism.

I had a similar experience recently, but with acknowledging my faults and generating a resolve to change them.  It was as though I couldn't do this without an intense sense of shame, self-blame, and self-criticism activating, which had a really toxic effect on my energy and emotional state. 

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7 hours ago, freeform said:

 

So here's the issue.

 

 

In essence, Humility is selflessness... similar to what Dwai says... similar to what Early Grey says here:

 

 

So it is possible to contrive Humility by making the self small - 'the lowest of the low'.

 

The problem is, that this is still the self... this isn't Humility, it's a kind of false-humility. It's an affectation the self adopts to seem a certain way... kinda like the 'victim mentality'. It is, in a way, another way for the self to create more self.

 

The difficulty in releasing the 'self-creating-tendencies' is that you must have a strong enough self esteem to begin to release these tendencies.

 

When your self feels threatened it can only hold on for dear life.

 

When your self is under pressure - and you then try to subdue it - it's like forcing a frightened cat into a box - it'll scratch, hiss and fight back out of self preservation.

 

But when the cat feels safe and secure in its environment - all you have to do is introduce a box - and in it goes by itself.

 

When you feel strong enough in yourself that you can handle most threats, you can actually let go.

 

So first develop some ease within yourself. Self esteem doesn't have to be arrogant - it doesn't have to be a contrived confidence thing at all. It's just a deep belief that overall you're ok... your life is ok... you can handle things. If you feel a lack in some aspect of life... if you feel incapable in some way, notice it and take care of it.

 

Martial arts is how it was done in the olden days... but that's just one avenue - maybe find a way to talk to the kind of people that you normally feel threatened by... or figure out how to solve some area where you feel you're lacking. Talk to other people about this... sometimes you'll learn that your perspective isn't quite right - maybe you feel like you're socially awkward, but actually you come across very well to others.

 

Once you feel comfortable in yourself - then you can begin to explore humility.

 

Start with the easy stuff - humility before the divine is a good place to start. This is what makes prayer powerful (genuine prayer, not an 'o lord will you buy me a mercedes benz')

 

Then begin to evaluate your interactions with people...

 

Was what I said a way to bolster my status to that person?

 

Did I put that other person down as a way to bring myself up?

 

Did I do that out of true kindness or was it to look good, or be liked?

 

Simply pay attention to your 'self-creating-tendencies' - notice them, that's all.

 

And if you're strong and secure enough internally, eventually you'll be like the cat presented with an empty box.

 

Wow. I gained a lot from reading this. I shall read it again and contemplate. Thanks.

Edited by skyblue
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1 hour ago, Creation said:

I had a similar experience recently, but with acknowledging my faults and generating a resolve to change them.  It was as though I couldn't do this without an intense sense of shame, self-blame, and self-criticism activating, which had a really toxic effect on my energy and emotional state. 

 

Exactly my problem. For some reason, I was convinced that as a cultivator, I should never be tired, frustrated/angry, have no weaknesses and be perfect at everything. And this was when I had barely begun to open my body.

 

Now that I think about it, it was very self damaging. The self-criticising part is still here, but it seems to be dissolving slowly. I actually needed to distance myself from anything spiritual for about a while for this to happen.

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Humility is the quality that comes from Laotze - but the counterbalance is Humour - which comes from Zhuangzi.

 

Yes you’re probably a self cantered piece of shit - but we all are.
 

Find the humour in it - rather than the blame

 

(Blame is another self-making-tendency anyway!)

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Just now, freeform said:

Humility is the quality that comes from Laotze - but the counterbalance is Humour - which comes from Zhuangzi.

 

Yes you’re probably a self cantered piece of shit - but we all are.
 

Find the humour in it - rather than the blame

 

(Blame is another self-making-tendency anyway!)

 

How we are before realizing humility and humor: 

 

E70A128E-8BEA-47F5-996F-DDEE1A417C2A.thumb.jpeg.3f848053625df37a666e4d713825a457.jpeg

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Neither humility nor pride, only spontaneity, the natural, the uncarved block of wood.

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From my POV, healthy humility presents as a sense of wonder.  Unhealthy humility presents as self-deprecation.

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On 13/10/2021 at 11:16 PM, skyblue said:

What exactly is humility? And how does one remain humble without hurting their self esteem (which can be extremely harmful, more so for cultivators)? How does one keep their self esteem relatively high without becoming arrogant?

I fear of seeming ignorant by what I'll write, but I'll admit that I am not as knowledgeable nor as "developed" as others here.I can only answer based on what I believe I know and my own experiences.

 

Humility is the opposite of arrogance, to be humble(in my opinion) would be not to make one's own actions or words seem more important than they actually are.As in, acknowledge what you did/are as this is all a "compilation" of your upbringing, your nature and what you've learned.

This is good for your self-esteem, kind of like a "yes, you did/are this and that was/is good/Good job" thing you do for yourself and no one else can do for you.

 

As for the self-esteem itself I feel that it isn't necessary to keep it high, just keep it "enough".Just enough that you won't doubt yourself all the time or "beat yourself up" for things beyond your control.But there are some people that have high self-esteem without being arrogant, they just balance that by being kind to others.Instead of letting their high self-esteem make them demean and bring down others, they bring them up.

Because in my view arrogance is also a choice to be bad/evil towards others.

 

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