Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Saturday 18 May |
Saint of the Day: St. John I
Aleteia logo
separateurCreated with Sketch.

How to grow in humility when you feel humiliated


G-Stock Studio | Shutterstock

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 09/16/21

It turns out that those awful moments of feeling embarrassed can help you grow spiritually and become a humbler person.

Cheeks burning. Heart racing. Breaking out in a sweat. Feeling a sudden urge to run away and hide. Sound familiar? We all know the feeling of embarrassment; its physical effects are unmistakable. But what’s less obvious are its spiritual effects.

Embarrassment is one of the most dreaded human emotions. Nobody likes to be humiliated! But it turns out that those awful moments of feeling embarrassed can help you grow spiritually and become a better person. 

How could these moments possibly be good for us?! It all depends on how we handle them. If we allow it, feeling embarrassed can be a chance to grow in the virtue of humility.

We know that humility is essential to holiness. Pride is one of the seven deadly sins, while humility is “the foundation of all the other virtues,” St. Augustine once wrote. 

An embarrassing moment can either lead to humility, which is beneficial, or to humiliation, which is damaging. The key is our response to the embarrassment. These are 3 steps we can follow to turn moments of humiliation into chances to grow in humility.

1Accept your human imperfections

Ironically, one of the reasons we feel so humiliated is because of pride. When we’re operating out of a sense that we can do things perfectly, an embarrassing stumble is so much harder to bear. That’s why the first step to growing in humility is to accept and embrace that we don’t always do things perfectly. 

Making mistakes is unavoidable, but they can have a helpful spiritual purpose. They’re little reminders of our human fallibility. Embarrassing occasions save us from the trap of thinking we are totally self-sufficient and can handle everything perfectly without God’s help.

2Turn toward God for help

Our mistakes reveal our imperfections to us. We can either be irritated and grouchy that we made mistakes, in which case we won’t see any spiritual progress … or we can see our mistakes and think, “I’m not perfect, but God is. This mistake is a reminder to throw myself on God and his mercy, instead of trying to rely on my own strength all the time.”

That’s why this step is really the key to everything else. If we can use our mistakes as opportunities to grow closer to God and rely on his mercy more than ever, these little human setbacks become spiritual victories. 

3Thank God for a chance to grow in humility

We know that embarrassment is inevitable, and it’s our reaction that matters: We can react with pride or with acceptance. So here’s the final step to conquer pride and accept embarrassment with grace: Thank God for this little opportunity to throw yourself on His strength and mercy. 

This is certainly not an easy thing to do! It might take time and a real effort of the will to find the good in an embarrassing situation. But keep in mind what St. Francis de Sales once wrote: 

To be pleased at correction and reproofs shows that one loves the virtues which are contrary to those faults for which he is corrected and reproved. And, therefore, it is a great sign of advancement in perfection.

We can take his words as a saintly encouragement to grow in humility from these humiliating moments.

The more times we practice this graceful acceptance of our mistakes, the easier it will be to benefit from them. This practice helps us grow in the virtue of humility.  

“The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility,” St. Vincent de Paul once said. Let’s strengthen this spiritual weapon in ourselves, one embarrassing moment at a time.

Catholic LifestyleVirtue
Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.