I gain true strength not when I exert strength or show off my dominance. Rather, my strength grows in adversity and my will grows through pain. And I know: core confidence is neither pride nor humility but the optimal balance between the two.
Is there growth beyond pain and adversity? I do not know. What I do know is that not all pain signals the destruction of my body; pain also signals the destruction of my ego. When I am humbled, I become aware, I learn, I experience, and I realize. When I am humbled,
- I become aware that I am not the best,
- I learn that my skills are at a level lower than expected,
- I experience that my hard work is not good enough, and
- I realize that my positive beliefs about myself do not match who I truly am.
Naked I stand. Humbled I feel. Growth seems far. Strength even farther. Still, improvement is inevitable. Despite the suffering.
My will is a pendulum between avoiding and seeking humiliation. When I avoid, I feel strong and my will is weak; when I seek, I feel weak and my will is strong.
Why fear weakness? Why fear being humbled? Because I do not feel good when my ego gets bitch slapped! I feel powerless and miserable. I feel down, down, down.
Well, this is life. I could choose not to embrace life. I could choose to live in total pride. I could choose to live in ego delusion. Then I would not feel down, would not feel humbled, would not feel weak. And I would not have a good pride-humility balance, would not develop core confidence, would not gain true strength.
Can I not simply develop true strength by being dominant and powerful, by being cool and badass, by kicking ass hard? No, I cannot. Not if I want to reach greater heights. For to go where the air is thin, I need a thin ego. And to thinnen my ego, I need to accept feeling down and weak and humbled.
How to be humbled
- Act cool and confident, always be prideful, and put yourself out there. Life will humble you hard in due time.
- Do something you have never done before or something you have not done in a long time (in front of people who think you are good at it). Do not make excuses for your performance and do not judge the craft.
- Train and spar with people better than you. Do not make excuses for your helplessness and do not judge your opponents.
- Ask questions that make you feel stupid. Do not make excuses for your ignorance and do not judge the people who give you disheartening looks.
- Try to seduce hot female strangers. Do not make excuses for your lay ratio and do not judge the girls.
- Speak to the public without preparation. Do not make excuses for your performance and do not judge the crowd.
Do you rationalize failures? Do you make excuses for defeats? Do you pant for explanations of your performance? Do you judge people who humble you with their power? Do you distract yourself from the pain? Whatever you do to take the edge off, to restore your pride prematurely, to not feel down and weak,—it will not make you stronger in the long run.
Watch your ego crumble. Feel the pain. Meditate on it. Then refine your skills and seek to be humbled again.
Why are so many comedians badasses who do not give a fuck? Because they have a life story of humiliations—called “bombing”—and they still managed to rise above it, to grow stronger because of it.
Now tell me: How have you been humbled in your life and what did you learn from it?