Humility in addiction recovery is a critical part of long-term recovery. It’s no wonder that those contemplating rehabilitation want to know the meaning of humility. To accept defeat, you must be humble in that you are not more powerful than your addiction. Humility helps you restart your life.
To call yourself an addict, attend meetings, go to rehab, go to a halfway house, and apologize for the damage you caused in your addiction, you must be humble.
The word humility encompasses the quality of being humble. Now, that doesn’t say much.
Humility also means “the state of being humble,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. It comes from the Latin word humilis, meaning “low.” However, the kind of lowness expressed in the word humility is one chosen by oneself. It isn’t intended to make us feel inferior or low. Instead, it carries the meaning that we assign to it.
Humility is the quality or condition of being humble, modest in opinion, or estimate of one’s importance. Being humble, and being able to define meek, means that a person is capable of accepting their limitations and weaknesses. They aren’t arrogant or overconfident in what they can achieve.
This does not mean they are spineless. Humble people can stand up for their rights while gracefully acknowledging where they lack and improving. They are the people who ponder what you mean by humility, who can take advice and constructive criticism in stride and use it only to improve upon themselves.
The Bible’s Take on Humility
Since most recovery programs, including the famous 12-Steps program from AA, are highly religious, it’s no surprise the concept of humility is drawn from the Bible. Humility is mentioned many times in the Bible as a righteous trait to manifest in our lives.
Biblical humility is more about gratitude, lack of arrogance, trust, and having a modest view of one’s self. The Bible calls for everyone to be humble followers of Christ and to trust in the salvation of God. We see this on several occasions:
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
— Proverbs 11:2
Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches and honor and life.
— Proverbs 22:4
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
— Peter 5:6
The Role of Humility in Addiction Recovery
Amid addiction, addicts tend to suffer from low self-esteem. As a result, and as a defense mechanism, they act arrogant to throw people off and make them think otherwise. These people do not know the definition of recovery in addiction.
Arrogance makes it difficult for people to learn new things, especially to accept help from other people and get the treatment they need. They are afraid of their addiction and true colors coming to light.
On the flip side, once a person can define humility and become humble enough to go to the treatment, they slowly become more and more humble as they go through treatment and recognize what they have been putting themselves and their loved ones through. At this time, people are most open to getting treatment and taking their doctors, therapists, and peers’ advice.
Humility in The 12-Step Program
Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the programs that focus on the concept of humility. When you look closely, you’ll recognize how humility is present not in one but four different program steps.
- Humility is complete defeat before a Higher Power. Here’s where people acknowledge they’re powerless against their addiction and that their lives have become unmanageable.
- Using Humility as accurate self-appraisal. Instead of going down the path of self-pity as recovering addicts start doing their inventory, humility can help them understand and recognize their lowest points in life.
- Humility to contrition. This happens through steps 8 and 9 of the 12-step program, which calls for admitting their faults in their struggles. Then, it’s about making amends to those you hurt.
- The humility of a rightly self about God and others. The last steps of these programs are about creating a life guided by a Higher Power (usually God); the concept of humility, in this case, is directly tied to the biblical meaning of the word.
The Importance of Humility in Addiction Recovery
Asking “what do you mean by humility” and then staying humble is essential when a person first leaves treatment. In many cases, they will be starting all over again, finding a new job, a new place to live, and new friends.
Starting over like this is tough. You may need to accept a lower-paying job than you have in the past and agree to live in a halfway house because you still need accountability and supervision. All of this is okay, as bravado and a false sense of confidence will only do you harm when you are in such a vulnerable spot. The more accepting you can be, the better.
Taking the time to define humble also teaches gratitude: Appreciating each day you have sober, each milestone you hit, each raises you to get (even if you are still not where you used to be), each sunrise, sunset, and the special moment you have with the people you love. Gratitude will get you far in recovery, taking things day by day and appreciating each little moment you are gifted with.