Many people, myself included, confuse humility with low self-esteem. On the face of it, they can seem to be rather similar. They both seem to be about not making a big deal regarding the positive qualities of the self.
There is, however, a big difference between the two, and the way they can make us feel about ourselves and relate to others.
False humility (lack of self-worth) refers to attacking one’s own talents and accomplishments. This can lead to feelings that one is not good enough and that others always deserve better than us. This can make our lives truly miserable because it denies the strength and goodness that we have in us. It can also make us less generous because we generally feel that we don’t have enough for ourselves and so have nothing extra to give to others.
True humility, on the other hand, is about recognising one’s strengths and qualities, but (and here is the important part) being aware that they are given to us as a gift from a higher source of power. This recognition that these strengths are not of our own creation leads to a freedom from the destructive effects of ego on our character. It enables us to be free in our interactions with others. We know that the source of our qualities can never be taken away from us and so we feel more open to giving generously to others.