The value of Humility
It seems to me that humility is a quality that is being valued less than it deserves. Today I want to reflect on the meaning of humility within therapeutic work, it is a value I hold dear.
Humility is a freedom from pride or arrogance, it is the taking of a modest view of your own importance. While humility used to be through of as a virtue, I increasingly find references to humility being about thinking bad things about yourself, or perceiving that you are lacking or not worthy.
This has moved me to write a little of what humility means to me personally and as a practitioner. To me, humility is a sensible position to take given the interdependence of life. By this I mean that I am a product of all the things that have happened to me. Many, many people have influenced who and how I am through the interactions I have had with them. At one level, the more interactions, the more influence. At the same time, there have been stand out moments where someone I hardly knew touched me deeply, and in doing so changed me.
As a psychotherapist I am a reflection of the people who trained me, of the authors I have read, of the clients I have served, and of the clinical supervisors who have enabled me. I’m not sure any of the ways of working I have are terribly unique or original, they all came from somewhere, I am pleased to mostly be able to combine them and express them in a way that means something to me and is helpful to each client. Of course, I sometimes get it wrong, and then I do my best to learn and improve.
What happens in my therapy room is not just down to my skill and experience as a psychotherapist. Far from it. While it is influenced by how much rest I have had, how well nourished I am and the interactions of my day so far, it is far, far more impacted by how my clients show up, by their willingness to explore and discover, and by their self-knowledge and courage. It is an interactive dance.
I exist in relationship. Moment to moment, I show up in relation to who I am with and how we are, and in the dynamic between us something is enacted. Knowing my place and contribution within this is essential, and humility is central.. I believe my clients are resourceful people, with many talents and qualities that can help them to heal. I believe that with humility, flexibility and grace, I might be able to help them bring out the best in themselves. I know that without humility I am of little use to them at all.