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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Robbins

Learning to Walk with Humility

I have always been on a search, seeking connection and a sense of belonging. Luckily; my career at the time, was able to take to around the world, and I was able to explore cultures and spirituality in a way I could never hope for. Once this round-the-world trip was completed, I was called home and when I returned there they were, the teachings of my own culture. I just had to return home, and ever since then, I have been investing my time and energy into learning more about the Seven Sacred Teachings of our Grandfathers. As I write and allow my thoughts to pass to my hands I hope I will further my understanding. I have just finished a discussion group, where these teachings were the focus. We gathered to shared medicine with each other and round the circle. It is interesting because we have completed this circle twice now and the insights we have gathered and shared continue to get deeper, not only learning to define our understanding of what these teachings are but learning how to stand and walk with them. I am still learning how to walk them. This is my journey, and the lessons I am learning.


Humility comes from the wolf. I think there are a lot of misconceptions about the wolf and how it lives. Some see them only for the Alpha and Omega structure, there the alpha is there to be obeyed, idolized and worshiped and perhaps feared. Seeing and adopting this pattern of leadership and seeing loyalty as submission. I have to pause and wonder how this works for people. I don’t think it would work for me, reflecting on my own experience where many men have adopted this posture of leadership, commanding respect when they have done nothing to earn it. How does this foster community and growth which is the basis of the lesson Wolf is hoping to teach?

Wolves functions as a group, as a community, where they utilize each other's strengths to help one another and keep each other healthy and safe. Should a member, act outside their own, it is hurtful to the group, and it makes it more difficult to stay healthy and survive. Each wolf has a strength, be it to scout, rear the young and look after the elderly. They all have a role and a purpose that helps the whole.

Taking these observations, what do I do with them? What does it mean to be humble?

I began, by reflecting on the definition of what humidity is. To define the word, before I can be the word. It was an existential conversation, where I dove into a quest for purpose, what is my purpose in this life, the role I needed to somehow fulfill? If not me who? What skills do I have and how do they benefit the community? How do I fit?

Those answers didn’t come easily. They never do. All I could do was ask questions, and gain a sense of clarity when those answers began to make sense. Hearing how my elders see me, and reflecting on my questions about how I see myself. It was difficult to understand. Understanding how others see me, and hearing how they depend on me. The roles I take up at that moment are to serve them. I am just a person that listens well. I have always done that, giving people in my community space enough for them to speak their mind and their feelings. I didn’t realize how that was my skill and how that helped my community function. Sure I do not claim to know everything about everything, and there are some situations I can’t put down because it feels like it's mine when it isn’t. I am grateful to my community because there are people who give me space, help me put down the things that aren’t mine and better me to identify things that aren’t mine so it is easier to put down, whatever it is I’m carrying. They help me put it down.

Humility is knowing my limits. It helps me to realize what is too much to handle. Be it mental, emotional, physical or spiritual. How these four things braid together and make the life balance I find myself seeking. Humility is understanding what is, defining me, and what role I provide and seeing the road of possibility before me. All lead toward growth, but each has its challenges. Nothing is ever easy but some challenges might be and bare little fruit in the short term. Other paths are long and treacherous and have more to offer, while still, other paths seem long and arduous with little to no goal in sight because the goal is long passed the horizon. I don’t have a belief in a god, but if there were one, I think they are the ones that are laying out pathways in front of me. They are giving me my choices, helping me to understand who I might become, and what roles I provide my community. It is not a single word, several roles define me, and who I am. I am a son, a brother, a friend, a teacher, a healer, and other words I haven’t yet found.

Humility helps me to understand what that means for me, and the reasons why it is important for me to be, to consider voices that surround me and understand why it is important for them that I am this. I can reject the roles that don’t feel like mine, and perhaps mentor others to step into roles they crave. Some roles are chosen for me that don’t fit, perhaps I am ill-prepared, and perhaps I have no interest. I still have the choice. To choose the path of growth that works for me, the destination might be unknown and it might take me away from those that love and support me. It is still mine. It might be a mistake, but that mistake is mine to acknowledge as that and learn from.

As an outsider, I happen to observe parents and parenting. They are making choices for their young. Directing the path, they hope their offspring would travel. When do they cut the apron strings and allow the young person to begin carving their own way? To acknowledge those people who have many of their choices made for them. “For their own good”, “I know better. I know what’s best for them”

Do they?

That might sound like a judgment. As an outsider, I know very little about the circumstance of the conversations I might be observing. I pause to wonder, why is this so? We have young people having their life shaped by hands that are not theirs, forced into situations to help the family. Forced to choose to take up mantels, to appease. Made to believe their needs aren’t important over the needs of the family. Perhaps there are things I don’t understand, it might not be my place to understand or to voice my concerns.

That doesn’t stop others from imposing their worldview and values on me. I lost count of the many times I’ve had others push their ideas on me. “If I were you, I’d do this or that. You should try reading this book, it helped me - on some unrelated topic. I’m a stranger but I somehow know better than you. Or my personal favourite: You need Jesus, he’ll solve your problems if you invite him into your heart. I don’t know how that magic works, summoning a supernatural being into the world to magically wipe away my problems in exchange for my eternal devotion and servitude. As easy as it would be to give someone else the reins of my life, I am too much of a control freak and I like to make my choices. If anything I might thank a deity for creating the possibilities in my present and future.

I can’t seem to get behind the idea of giving solutions to those who don’t ask first. I like being asked, otherwise words fall on deaf ears and I am investing time and energy only for that energy to go unused. I’d rather sit quietly. Besides what good would it do if I stepped in, and did the job for them? It's an easy thing to do, step in, and do the job because it's the easiest. Imagine how it might feel for the person looking to learn the skill. Instead of having it done for them and having to depend on others, wanting to learn how to provide for themselves. What would it be like to explore skill sharing? To have those, come to you to learn instead of doing?

I wonder about that as well. What would people come to me for? What do I have to teach? I am certainly not the best of teachers but, I have mentors and those in my circle I can ask. How could I become better? And if I asked, would they help me?

These are thoughts that I think will benefit me as I begin my journey as a counsellor. Having these teachings in mind when doing the work with my clients. No matter how much their story might sound familiar, it isn’t. No matter how much experience I have, no one is more experienced than the person living their own life. I will only know parts of the story, I will only know what I would do in their place, yet it doesn’t change the fact that it's not my story to live out. That is not my role in this, I am there to listen and help them to reflect on their own ideas and find their own sense of clarity. If anything, my role is to stand in front of them and be a mirror, so they can see themselves and decide their next steps.

So this is humility for me. These are my thoughts as I answer how I can apply this lesson to my own life. Not only walking this teaching but modelling it.

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