little girl in pain

All of us make mistakes. We hope to learn from our failures and not repeat them. Unfortunately, for most of us this isn’t the case. We seem doomed to go round and round our mountains until we’ve worn a deep trench that resembles a castle moat.

It dawned on me one day that we have pain memory but it doesn’t seem to last very long. We remember when we touched that hot stove not to do it again. 

Why can’t we remember emotional pain causing events? 

What about bad habits that we allow to creep back in and again cause us the same old pain from before. 


Scripture likens humans to sheep, who are very dumb animals, cute but dumb. If the sheep didn’t have their shepherd to follow they would literally walk off the cliff. The leader would start off the cliff and the others would follow. Now that’s dumb. Sound familiar?

We may see someone doing something that looks like fun and follow them only to find a cliff edge waiting. Forget about following others. We can follow our own nose right off the cliff. 

An important difference between humans and other animals is our ability to make conscious choices. Just following our sensory perceptions: sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing; can easily get us into trouble. But if we can be more aware in the moment, making conscious choices, we will be better off.

The problem is we are dumb sheep and get distracted easily. Before we know it we are at that cliff edge again.

The key is in who and what we are following. This is a daily, hourly, even momentary discipline that must be intentionally practiced.  

Who / What am I following today?

Image credit: lordalea / 123RF Stock Photo

12 Steps of Humility :: LEARN FROM OTHERS


The ladder is our life on earth, if we humble our heart God will raise it to heaven. ~ St. Benedict 

THE EIGHTH STEP OF HUMILITY: The monk does only what is endorsed by the common rule of the monastery and the example set by [her] superiors.

Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances. ~ Proverbs 11:14 (MSG)

It’s difficult to find young people who respect, listen and learn from adults.  In the 1970’s, my generation of youth, no one over the age of 40 was to be trusted much less respected.

We can’t just pick on the young, many adults are hesitant to learn from others. We think we’ve got life all figured out and don’t need advice from anyone. 

The ability to learn from others is a sign that we are at ease with ourselves. If we’ve worked The Seventh Step of Humility, found and accepted our own weaknesses, then we are well positioned to learn from those around us. 

The eighth degree of humility brings us to such respect for others that we can follow the great rather than get lost making the path as we go. ~ Joan Chittister*

Those who are unteachable are usually not concerned with their spiritual growth.  That’s why I must regularly examine the “pride” barometer of my heart. 

Am I blindly walking the same path over and over again? 

Am I willing to asks others for direction?

Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan Chittister*
A Guide to Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey
Saint Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine
The Rule of Saint Benedict edited by Timothy Fry

Image credit: andresr / 123RF Stock Photo