Understanding Humility, Pride, and Recovery

Humility teaches us that we have a lot to learn from others and it’s okay to accept help. Pride closes us off to other people and ourselves. Here’s why it’s important to drop the pride and embrace humility in recovery. 

Part of our recovery work involves shedding certain personality traits and character defects as we sometimes call them, in order to access our truest, highest selves. One of these traits that blocks our connection to our inner selves is pride, and as we work to recover, we learn that humility is an important part of our healing. When we aren’t able to be humble with other people, it’s often because we’re dealing with some very deeply rooted fears – fears of inadequacy, inferiority, and unworthiness, fears of being judged and criticized, and fears that we’re not loved or accepted as we are. When we’re prideful, we don’t want to accept help from anyone, nor do we even want to accept that we need help in the first place. We reject the support of our friends and family, shrugging off their worries and concerns. We might be so deeply in denial that we try to pretend as if we’re fine when deep down we know we’re suffering. When we have excessive pride, it’s often because we’ve developed self-protective defense mechanisms. We’re trying to protect ourselves from being hurt by appearing nonchalant or aloof, by pretending that things don’t affect us, or by pretending to be something we’re not. Our arrogance and pride are really our insecurities in disguise.

When it comes to our recovery, our pride tells us that we have to recover alone, that we don’t want anyone knowing the truth of our situation and that we shouldn’t open up to anyone. We don’t get close to anyone who might probe too much or push us to explore ourselves more deeply. We push people away if they show too much interest or concern. We don’t allow anyone to make suggestions or offer advice or guidance. We’re unable to be honest and vulnerable with other people and with ourselves. We’re hiding entire parts of ourselves from our consciousness and suppressing all kinds of fears, many of which we have no idea even exist. We’re afraid of being judged, rejected, and shunned. We’re afraid of being criticized and looked down upon. As we know, addiction is still widely stigmatized and stereotyped in our culture. There is widespread misinformation and misunderstanding around addiction. As addicts, we can internalize this stigma and feel ostracized. We fear being excluded from our homes, families, communities, and society as a whole. Pride can act as a defense mechanism during these times of fear.

When we can open ourselves to humility as we’re recovering, we’re able to accept and acknowledge our fears, without needing to pretend that we don’t feel them. We know that having fear is a normal part of life, it’s a common element in human nature, and it doesn’t make us any less unworthy to experience fear. We learn that confronting how we feel is far better than avoiding it. As we move through our fears with courage, we learn that we actually have more power over them than we thought we did, and with mindfulness, we learn how to direct and control our thoughts, making our fear responses much healthier. We naturally feel better-adjusted, more at peace, more stable, grounded, centered, and secure within ourselves.

Humility in recovery is having acceptance for where we are now, mentally and emotionally, and also being open to knowing there are areas in which we might want to change, grow, and improve upon ourselves. Humility is being able to say, “I’m not okay, I need help, will you help me?” It’s being able to admit to ourselves and others that our addictions, and our lives as a whole, have become totally unbearable. It’s being able to admit we’re addicts in the first place and that we have a problem with an addictive substance or behavior. When we humble ourselves, we realize that we have so much to learn from other people, valuable lessons we’ve been closing ourselves off to all these years out of fear. We realize that we don’t have to do all our recovery work, or anything else for that matter, completely on our own, in isolation. While the healing work and the responsibility for our recovery lies with us, we can take advantage of all the support, resources, connection, and love that surround us. It’s okay to accept help from others along the way.

We’re meant to connect with people, learn from them, and teach them through our experience. We’re meant to share personal life stories that end up contributing to each other’s roadmaps for healing. We’re meant to trade informative tips and help each other prepare for the various challenges that will inevitably arise along our recovery journey. We are more likely to make meaningful changes in our lives and to achieve lasting sobriety with the help of a supportive team.

Humility is one of those traits that opens us up to the flow of blessings and happiness, while pride keeps us blocked. Our faith is an expansive, freeing emotion, while fear is limiting because it contains us and keeps us small. When we consciously choose to start shedding our pridefulness in place of humility, we’re taking a huge, transformative step forward in our ability to heal ourselves and learn from others.

Riverside Recovery is committed to helping you uncover the issues fueling your addictions. Our treatment programs include multiple forms of therapy, family workshops, and mindfulness-based relapse prevention education. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.