From a young age, we develop a sense of self. We build interests, identities, and beliefs. We also build armor, because life is difficult: we all experience embarrassment, loss, and pain. It's natural to protect our heart. Yet it's possible—even freeing—to unveil our heart. It's possible to be vulnerable. To see our innate goodness, as we see the goodness in others.
My "self" bounces between two extremes: there's something wrong with me (I'm worthless) or there's nothing wrong with me (I'm awesome and undervalued). Each of these extremes separates me. And this separation is an armor; an attempt to control an unpredictable world. But it doesn't feel good. It constricts my body and my heart. When I re-connect with awareness—when I sit in meditation or simply take a pause—I find a place between extremes. I find humility.
With humility, I hold two ideas at once: I'm lovable just as I am, but I have blind spots that hold me back; I have gifts to give the world, but my gifts aren't more special than others' gifts; I have wisdom and insight, but my ideas are limited (I must keep practicing); my life matters, yet I'm not a big deal.
When I move from a place of humility, work hums and connection happens—all without having to try so hard. I simply get out of the way. Karen Maezen Miller writes, "The world needs fewer people to own their greatness and a few more to own their humility." Each day I wonder: how can I own my humility? How can I know myself yet forget myself?