True wisdom only comes with the recognition of our own ignorance and the willingness to be teachable. At the heart of our ability to acknowledge our shortcomings and our eagerness to better ourselves is a virtue that is South Orange County Detox and Treatment's word of the week; humility. The importance of humility is evidenced by its necessity as the foundation of several past words we’ve highlighted such as empathy, acceptance, and integrity. Without humility, we run the risk of falling victim to the trap set by our own ego’s. The story of Narcissus comes to mind and the myth is a grim reminder of where grandiosity can lead. The story tells the tale of a man, Narcissus, who was lead to a pool where he saw his own reflection. Not realizing it was merely an image of him; he fell madly in love to the point where he could do nothing but gaze into the watery mirror. He became so fixated that he lost his will to go on and died while in a self-inflicted hypnotic trance. This simple tale has long been a warning against a drug as deadly as anything we’ve ever ingested; the narcotic of self-exaltation, and consequently, a reminder to embrace humility.
As obvious as this all may sound, and as easily as I may profess to personify this quality, in my addiction and also in early sobriety, I really only understood humility as a concept; a conversational virtue that if asked, I was sure to remember to vocalize that I held in high esteem. It was something that I found much more difficult to understand why it would be beneficial to my recovery let alone actually having to apply to daily living. As someone who has always strived for the acquisition of knowledge, I first realized that humility could benefit me intellectually. The more I accepted that, as Socrates put it, “the one thing is know is that I know nothing at all”, the more I became able to investigate all sides of personal dilemmas and existential conundrums. After that realization, I could start to grapple with my emotional handicaps, and that is where my real healing began. I had to take an honest inventory of my emotional progress up to that point in my life, or more aptly put, my lack thereof. Only then was I able to identify my shortcomings and begin to evolve into a more mature emotional being. Finally came humility in the spiritual sense, a facet of my life that had always eluded me. In order to find my own spirituality, I had to let go of my staunch convictions, and ironically, through shedding those tightly held beliefs, I found freedom. I found that in the absence of my fallible and imperfect ego, was within me, what Narcissus never found; the infallible and numinous spirit of the gods.
In the early stages of recovery, humility is a scarce trait, and why wouldn’t it be? Up to that point, in our addictions we believed that we knew what was best for us and we wouldn’t, and probably couldn’t hear otherwise. In my experience working in the addiction field, it is those who show a willingness to take direction, listen to suggestion, and drown out the cacophony of screams coming from their own egos, are the most successful at gaining and maintaining quality sobriety. During this week’s Art Therapy painting session, I heard a song blaring from the living room where the chorus eerily sang “We’re only gonna die from our own arrogance!” While this has been hauntingly true for far too many great individual’s we have known, it certainly doesn’t have to be. Here at South OC Detox and Treatment we encourage you to take the humble path and reach out to us for help to forge a better life, a life you deserve, and a life that is right within your grasp.