Susan McKinney | Look at yourself well and carefully | Books

The opening sentence of Daryl Van Tongeren’s “Humble: Free Yourself From The Traps Of A Narcissistic World” says it all: “Pride comes before the fall.

The word “narcissism” comes from the Greek myth of a man with that name. Narcissus leaned over a river for a drink and fell in love with his reflection. He won’t leave and will eventually die looking at himself. Most, if not all, of the world’s religions warn their followers to avoid the sin of pride or hubris.

Unfortunately, in our modern world, we have taken the virtue of humility and equated it with humiliation. The two are not the same. As a child, I was taught that bragging was wrong. Think of how many fairy tales and children’s stories teach us that people who boast end up being embarrassed when they fail. This leads most people to become embarrassed, and then we hide our accomplishments so as not to brag.

In the introduction, Van Tongeren introduces the concept of types of humility. According to him, there are four: relational humility (centered on people), intellectual humility (centered on ideas), cultural humility (centered on ways of life) and existential humility (the ultimate questions of life). He explains how people’s humility varies among these types. In some cases, humility in a certain area may be a mixture of several types.

Van Tongeren is a psychologist who has dedicated his career to humility research. Her thesis focused on maintaining meaningful relationships by offering forgiveness to partners. He is considered the main researcher on humility. His book is a step-by-step guide to help us become humble again. It discusses the benefits of humility and provides information on how to develop our own. Finally, he explains how humility can change a life.

This book is an eye opener. I’ve tried to be humble in my interactions with people, but I know I’m failing. I can be as much of a braggart as the next person.

Unfortunately, we live in a world that encourages and rewards bragging. Look at social media and “influencers”; we are now rewarding people for being modern-day Narcissus. They record everything they do, and millions of people watch them and empower them to tell the world what’s okay and not. Millions of people follow social media influencers instead of going out and changing the world themselves.

Van Tongeren’s book is a way to challenge ourselves and change the way we behave and interact with the rest of the world.

Susan McKinney is a librarian at St. Joseph Township-Swearingen Memorial Library. She received her Masters in Library Science from the University of Illinois. She came here from Indiana for college and fell in love with the area.

Colin L. Johnson