Updated: Aug 20
“To all those whose progress remains hampered by ego-related distractions, let humility – the spiritual cornerstone upon which Karate rests – serve to remind one to place virtue before vice, values before vanity and principles before personalities.” – Sokon ‘Bushi’ Matsumura
Life is a journey of discovery and growth. As a younger man, the concept of humility seemed so boring and pointless. Why would a person maintain a modest or low view of their own self importance in a society that only seems to reward bold impetuousness? From flaunting ones self on social media for likes and followers, to embellishing accomplishments and credentials for career advancement, we've all felt the narcissistic temptation to play this game and keep up with the herd.
But it comes with a significant cost...
It robs you of your joy, as you are constantly comparing your presentation of yourself to those unrealistic presentations of others...none of which are actually real.
It erodes real relationships and connections, as people find it harder and harder to relate to this person who is changeable and always prioritizing superficial goals over deep and lasting relationships.
It decreases self-esteem. As the distance between your true self and the illusion you portray to the world increases, you create inner dissonance about your self worth.
It increases extreme opinions and world views. If your image of self is an inflated fabrication, then there is the risk that any underpinning values or opinions only serve to preserve this falsehood and can become increasingly irrational.
It promotes a variety of unhealthy self protection mechanisms when there is a perceived threat to the false image of self you have presented to the world. We may try to make our candle burn brighter by blowing out the candles of others.
The solution is very simple (in theory): Embrace humility.
Believe that you are not special, and become comfortable with just being you.
Always consider that you may be wrong, because you likely are at least partially wrong most of the time.
Attempt to hold your opinions, especially about others, less strongly.
Prioritize your values ahead of your projected image of self.
Practice forgiveness of yourself and others.
"Always assume you don't completely understand something. It will foster humility and create more opportunities for learning" - Mark Manson
Humility fosters growth and learning, while significantly reducing interpersonal conflict. It is the cornerstone upon which Karate rests and perhaps the most significant reason why Karate is such an effective self defence practice.