Tell us about a time you found out after the fact that you’d been mistaken and you had to eat a serving of humble pie.

This prompt immediately reminded me of some of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I was voted in as a member about 24 years ago; the criteria is simple: a desire to quit drinking and a willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve lasting sobriety. Many members relapse because they are not committed to doing what ever it takes, and have been unable to accept their condition, or to submit their will to a Higher Power (God — or whatever concept of god they construct). There are two paths: you either admit powerlessness over alcohol (or addicting drugs) and stop abusing them; or you die from addiction.

Certainly getting clean and sober is not as easy as it sounds, but the 12 Steps, so intuitively penned by Bill Wilson in the Big Book, succinctly lay down the path for recovery, and for maintaining a sober and more fulfilling life. Rigorous honestly is a necessary component of the program. As we often say in AA, if everyone lived by the principles, the world would be a far better place.

  • Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  • Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  • Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Eating humble pie is a necessary course of action in maintaining honest relationships. Having the humility to ask for forgiveness can be uncomfortable, but also cleansing and freeing.

I like the last step I’ve listed — when wrong, promptly admit it. How much easier life would be if we didn’t harbor wrongful pride, or were unable to be humble. We may state an opinion which we learn is wrong over time, or because we didn’t understand where our adversary was coming from. We always have to take into account the fact that we will never know everything, that what is true for us may not be so for others, and that we cannot walk in the shoes of another and know what their lives are like. When we become aware that we have wronged someone else, how generous it is to admit our errors, and try to make amends, and perhaps to find out more about what motivates and shapes the opinions of the other person.

It really is a much easier way to live, if uncomfortable at times. Taking a moral inventory of ourselves may involve making excuses for ourselves, but that doesn’t excuse our behavior.

I don’t mind admitting when I’m wrong, and if I do it for others, perhaps they will be more open with me. I have learned over the years that we rarely know another person entirely; each of us has our own reality, but that doesn’t mean we can’t communicate and learn, show empathy and understanding.

It just means we have a need to grow.