Sifu Lorna Jones, Waterloo Kung-Fu Academy

Guest Contributor Sifu Lorna Hayward

Adult Student’s Corner

Confident humility? Is there such a thing? The answer is yes! In martial arts, we strive to be humble, but many of us fall on the extreme of this, into self-deprecation. These are two very different things. By the same token, excess confidence slides into arrogance. Where is the balance in this, and how do we achieve it?

This is a very difficult balancing act. Confidence is seeing an obstacle and knowing that you can handle it. Arrogance is about intent: it is when an ability, or a perceived ability, is used to look down on others. Confidence is quieter. Confidence allows you to rely on your abilities with the knowledge that you can cope and can master whatever is in front of you. Confidence is one thing we strive for daily in our martial arts journey, but we definitely do not want to slide too far into arrogance.

I often hear people demeaning themselves and their abilities, and I wonder if that is a perceived humility. Humility and self-deprecation are not the same thing. Humility, like confidence, is the quiet understanding that there are others who are more talented, more capable, more…whatever… than you are, but it does not mean that you don’t value your own skills and abilities. Telling other people about how you’re not good at things is not actually being humble. It breaks down your own confidence in yourself. The more we tell ourselves how much we CAN’T do, the more we believe that we can’t.

If someone gives us a compliment, often our first reaction is to tell that person why they are wrong to have given you a compliment. That is not humility. You can humbly accept the gift of a compliment or praise without being arrogant. Truly accepting praise without letting it go to your head, but still letting it build your confidence in your own abilities is the tightrope wire that we have to walk. It is not an easy thing for most people to do. But we can learn.

What, then, is confident humility? How can we stay humble and at the same time remain confident in who we are and what we have to offer the world?

Humility involves having an accurate view of ourselves. We allow others to give open, honest feedback, and accept that feedback to help in our growth. Yes, that even means accepting praise and compliments. Being humble allows us to learn more about ourselves so we can continue to improve, but it also enables confidence.

Truly humble people, are actually very confident people. They know their worth and are thankful for their blessings, without having to belittle themselves to prove to anyone else how humble they are. When we are confidently humble, we are sure of our own abilities AND acknowledge our opportunities for continued growth. The confidence we strive for is knowing that one day, with the hard work we know we can do, we will achieve more than we are today.

Remember that being humble does not mean that you point out to everyone your shortcomings. That is low self-esteem. Being confident in what you know and what you can do, with an eye on what you are working on, is where confident humility comes in.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less” ~ C.S. Lewis