Humble vs Humiliated

 In philosophy, thoughts about stuff

me asheville 2bwTo paraphrase Luke 14:11:

For everyone who exalts himself in the gym will be humbled, and he who humbles himself before the iron will be exalted.

Being humbled and being humiliated are two different dogs fighting for the same piece of synonym pie. Sure, this gets confusing, since Humility is the art of being humble, and the word ‘humility’ sure sounds and looks a lot like ‘humiliation,’ but it isn’t unlike the difference between selfish and self-centered, which was a rant many of you would probably chose to forget (too bad, here it is.).

Donald Klein wrote:

“The truly humble person cannot be humiliated.”

Let’s not mistake being humble for being passive or timid. Instead, a society striving for healthier communication and productivity should regard the coveted position of the humble person as someone who has achieved a strong sense of security through accomplishment. Not only do they know what they can do, but they UNDERSTAND what they CAN’T do yet, and with that understanding they approach the obstacles that are stopping them with a calm strength, running a highlighter over the word YET.

Snatch PR at the Tommy Kono last Saturday

Snatch PR at the Tommy Kono last Saturday

We’ve all had our asses handed to us in the gym, or in competition. If the ego overrides ability, we’re humiliated. We compared ourselves too much to others and gave a lot of importance to that comparison, probably with volume (at least until we got stomped). We were forced to admit our weakness in the face of peacocking.

But if ego takes the defeat as a lesson of the self, an education towards the long term success, then we’re humbled. We grow and learn, and, ultimately, the tribe benefits. If we are our main competition, then there can be grace in the occasional loss.

One hurts. A lot. One stings a little, but also builds excitement for what’s next. Guess which is which?

Let’s put on our conspiracy theory hats…


Notice how much time, energy and money is spent promoting the possibility of humiliation? From politics, to pop culture, religion to advertising, the fear of being humiliated is a WONDERFUL control tool, both over individuals and masses, and our society is poised for dishing it out constantly. Competition has become such a point of pride, an ego-driven, empty, pointless pissing contest, that to lose is to face big time humiliation. This extends beyond just sports, although that is the most blatant example. Celebrities are ALWAYS on the brink of being humiliated. And at the opposite end of the spectrum are the bad boys, gang members, hipsters and stuff-strutters who equate many erroneous properties with ‘respect.’ Bling ain’t respect. Creating fear in others is not generating respect. Thinking you can endlessly act like a spoiled little brat isn’t because anyone respects you. Respect some from a place of humility, not humiliation.

False ideas of ‘respect’ are big fat set ups for humiliation. Ego overriding ability, which will lead to being forced to admit weakness.


So, did we create this power structure, where the majority of our idols rest on shaky pedestals? Or, and here’s the conspiracy theorist in me again, is this simply an easy way to actually assume control by higher powers that be? Being scared of humiliation is a double edged motivator. It sure gets the elbow grease going in people, often for erroneous pursuits. And it also sets up folks who get too comfy in their success to be easily knocked down, since they put so much misplaced importance in their prominence.

Learning from the legendary Tommy Kono himself will keep you humble, as Irma discovers.

Learning from the legendary Tommy Kono himself will keep you humble, as Irma discovers.

Holy crap, that seems like a easy way to manipulate a nation to me.

But no, I don’t believe our fear of humiliation is intrinsically linked to Area 51 and whoever shot JFK (it wasn’t me, by the way). Unfortunately, it does guide our society into dangerous places. There are a few things we need to place less importance on, folks. The process is often more beautiful and beneficial than the outcome. Perhaps we need to embrace those lessons. As Eric Kirkland wrote, “there are two types of men in the world; humble men and men about to be humiliated.” Yup, it goes for women too.


Pushups… do ’em better:

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Showing 5 comments
  • Ed Pierini

    Chipper, your random workouts produce random results cyber-utterance is very, very good; one of your recent bests. Thanks!

  • sara

    I really like this blog. It hits close to home for me. When I would get myself all worked up in anticipation for a track meet, my coach would simply say, “more hammer, less sara.” Then I knew to check myself. The best throws, the p.r.’s, are the ego-less throws. When the ego’s removed we can truly see and experience things, living up to our untapped and ever-evolving potential.

    And I don’t think you’re a conspiracy theorist…post-structuralist maybe, but not conspiracy theorist. 🙂

    Thanks for the words of wisdom… Spankit

  • chip

    post-structuralist? I haven’t a clue what that means, but I’ll take it.

  • Gubernatrix

    Thought-provoking piece, Chip.

    The language of ‘domination’ in sports or ‘owning’ in other areas of life (or even ‘pwning’) is part of this culture. So I particularly admire sports people who, in their post-event interviews show genuine humility. Some of them are supremely competitive but at the same time grateful to have the priviledge of competing at all. British swimmer and double olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington is one of these – I was thinking about this as I watched her post-race interview on TV last night from the Worlds in Rome.

    Maybe if we see it as a priviledge to be out there doing our thing, whether it is competing or just training, this helps us to be humble?

    I ought to be the first to try it as I’m not known for my humility…..

  • Jack

    Great post, Chip! Thanks!

    ps – Trudy is beautiful. Keep me posted on our life. In terms of her former owners, I would to take a sledge hammer and bang them a couple times.

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