Awareness, Insight, Reflective practice, Spirituality


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Who you truly are is reflected by how you walk and talk in the world. We should periodically assess whether what we do, say, and think is consistent with whom we believe ourselves to be. Inconsistencies in words and actions can damage trust, harming personal and professional relationships, as well as our relationship with self. It's important to be cognizant of how we are actually perceived in the world versus how we think others regard us. The recent coining of the term "humblebrag" and the resultant attention attributed to this ubiquitous display of false modesty provide an interesting opportunity for reflection.


Humblebrag is defined by Oxford Dictionary as "an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement whose actual purpose is to draw attention to something of which one is proud."1 Rather than an honest comment about something one is proud of, the humblebragger tells the world how fabulous he/she is while cloaking the comment in humility. If Mother Teresa were still living, could you imagine her sending out this tweet?


"I'm so far behind in opening the new clinic. With all the travel to pick up the Nobel Peace Prize and meet with the Pope, it's hard to keep up!"


There is no doubt that we have all done this from time to time. Although at first glance humblebragging seems benign, it is problematic on many fronts. Such comments can erode credibility and respect as they are not genuine. They may also cause harm by elevating oneself at the expense of other individuals. But most importantly, they indicate a lack of awareness and insight. The opportunity resides in recognizing this shortcoming. How would your life change if you developed a daily reflective practice such as a nightly review of your day? You might ask yourself, what could I have done better? What conversations should I have not partaken in? What should I have said or not said? Did my actions reflect who I am or want to be? Routine reflection can heighten awareness of both ourselves and others and help bring an appreciation of the power of silence, listening and, at times, just walking away. Identifying behaviors that do not represent the authentic you provides the opportunity to readjust your sails and get back on course. To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be."


We are all members of many communities, whether they exist at work or home or are part of our social and neighborhood networks. For any of these groups to be successful, members need to be working together and concerned about the success of everyone, both individually and collectively. In a review examining spirituality in nursing and health-related literature, Sessanna et al2 identified four main themes, one of them describing "spirituality as life meaning, purpose, and connection with others." Utilizing this definition, the ability of the individual to connect with his/her spirituality is fundamental to personal growth and happiness, as well as group achievement and possibilities. We each need to incorporate practices into our life that bring insight and understanding and help us find our true place in the world.


Patricia M. Reilly, MSN, RN




Caring and Healing Modalities at


Brigham and Women's Hospital


Boston, Massachusetts


Teresa M. Buchanan, MBA, RN


Nursing Project Manager


Caring and Healing Modalities at


Brigham and Women's Hospital


Boston, Massachusetts




1. Oxford Dictionary. Oxford Dictionaries Web site. Accessed September 2, 2014. [Context Link]


2. Sessanna L, Finnell D, Jezewski MA. Spirituality in nursing and health-related literature. J Holist Nurs. 2007; 25( 4): 252-262. [Context Link]