Wisdom is a beautiful quality.
It has extraordinary value across a lifetime of joy, challenge and pain.
So why is it that in 35 years as a clinical psychologist, I have never had a client come to me saying, “I want more wisdom?
Primarily, I think it’s because no one has ever described to us how much pain our ignorance causes us.
Wisdom is seeing the big picture. It is not making trivial issues important and the important issues trivial. We so easily get lost in our headache, a small rejection, a bad meeting a downturn in our business…and we fail to see that life is lived in the long term. It’s not about having a good day or a bad day or even week or month, it’s the sense, the flavor, the theme of the journey over months and years.
If you are in a conflict with someone, or if you have a business problem and are in a desperate hurry to fix these issues, you are not immersed in wisdom.
Desperation is ignorance. From this place you are probably living in fight or flight mode, hyper-aroused. Creativity and skill do not usually come from this kind of energetic signature.
I have seen so many business managers trying to solve problems in their teams from this energy. They can’t see the big picture regarding difficult employees and rescue and overprotect them, interspersed with attack and aggression. The problem is that the negative qualities these people possess, destroys their teams.
Rescuing or unskillful compassion is ignorance.
It is well meaning ignorance, but ignorance nevertheless and you know what’s really amusing, the universe doesn’t care how well-meaning we are. Ignorance begets negative consequences, no matter how well meaning it is.
Most of us have deep seated conditioned programming, that leaves us obeying rules that inhibit creativity and spontaneity.
Largely speaking, my parents, teachers, the media gave me a disastrous rule book from which to live life. Not all of this was explicit.
Essentially they taught me to live in fear of problems and to try to control everything that happened and to stick to meaningless rules that denied spontaneity and creativity.
A List Of Ignorance.
Here is a list, with a counter argument to each absurdly ignorant rule.
- Mistakes are bad – that’s how we learn!
- Be reliable – not a good thing if someone is abusing you.
- Don’t upset people – totally impossible.
- Chase desperately after love and success – it is living from your inspired, authentic self that is ultimately fulfilling.
- Look good and up to date and fashionable – no room for authenticity here.
- Be well read – useful in many ways but it seldom creates Self-Esteem.
- Don’t give up what you start – what if it’s not right for you and if you hate it?
- Have strong opinions, it gives you character – this can simply increase conflict and make you very judgemental.
- Be kind so that you can look good – you’re just manipulating the world to get more love.
- Fit in as best you can…stay safe – no authenticity again.
- Make as much money as you can and forget your passion – lopsided and empty.
Nowhere did they teach me to…
A List Of Wisdom
- Balance giving and taking, being respectful and tough, depending on whom you are dealing with.
- Know when to back down and when to stand my ground.
- Listen to feedback but only take that which is valid.
- Learn to let go of hurt and pain and stress.
- See that we are in big trouble if we allow excitement and fear to influence our decision making.
- Stick to what I love and know when to exit if it’s not right for me.
- Ask myself, when criticised, what is their intent? If it is negative, turn away and love myself.
- Not get caught up in strong emotions thinking they are the truth. Let them go and see what is left.
- Not try to be kind, just to look good.
- To find a place of Stillness that is my true nature, the source of all things that I am and that I do.
- Be tough on others when it feels right and if Ican’t do it with respect, forgive myself.
- Beware of my actions that stem from a desire for success and approval, they are manipulative and will cause me pain in the long term.
- Not think that if I check all the boxes that make life look great on the outside, that I will be happy on the inside.
- Not think that getting more and more of what I ‘want’ will make me happy.
- Follow a path with passion and heart and see if I can make money out of it as well.
- Find a way to speak and live my truth as much as possible, to give me energy and fulfilment.
- Love and forgive and let go as best I can and when I can’t, to forgive myself.
- See that life is best lived long term, not for immediate gratification.
- Notice my unending need to control life, to see how often I will fail and let go of this need as best I can.
- Break every rule that does not serve the true wisdom of my heart and mind.
- Beware of my desire to be a fundamentalist, seeing life and people as all good, or all bad.
- Notice that people will try to control my every move and that I will do the same to them.
- Drop my fantasies as fast as I create them. They will cause me immense suffering, though not in the short term.
- See that society will teach me to live on a merry go round of superior and inferior. Both polarities are lies. Find within, the truth that is simply love for myself and others, for no reason?
- Know that my anger is secondary to my feelings of vulnerability. This is one of the reasons why the world is so filled with aggression.
- See that most people play it safe. Can I risk not playing it safe?
- Learn to discern when people are speaking from conditioned garbage and when they are seeing the truth!
- See if I can find the unmoving, infinite truth and love that underlies all of the happiness and sadness around me – what I think and feel and ‘want’ will keep changing, but there is something beneath all of this.
If you are in a very important business meeting that is going to change your career and it is running overtime. It might be great wisdom to not stop the flow of the meeting to text your partner that you are going to be late for dinner.
When you get out of the meeting and call your partner, if they are in an incendiary rage because the dinner has been spoiled and because you’ve let them down, then they have zero wisdom in that moment.
Their woundedness at your letting them down prevents them from being delighted at the success of your meeting and allowing them to override the spoiled dinner. But they can’t do that because they were trained into conditioned beliefs by their parents that it is a crime for the dinner to be ruined and for you to not let them know.
If I was in this situation I would be completely delighted to take my partner out for a celebratory dinner whilst throwing the burnt roast beef into the dustbin as we left.
An old friend who treated me really badly some years ago made a gesture toward me to reconnect in a very special way recently. Just before I accepted the gesture, she lashed out at me in a text message in a somewhat backhanded way, which made me realize that nothing had changed and I immediately felt no desire to renew the connection. Had I felt particularly wounded I would probably have engaged in a verbal boxing match via Whats App. The wise thing was to simply point out what I had observed her doing and to simply decline the invitation to re-connect.
What is also interesting is that when we think and act wisely we let go of difficult situations quickly and they don’t drain our energy.
Wisdom enables great conflict resolution skill
Excitement is the enemy of wisdom.
Most business mergers are filled with the excitement about the money to be made or the power to be gained.
This excitement blocks the ability to see the big picture – one of the major components of wisdom. What this means is that the major players in the merger do not look at one of the most important things involved in enabling a merger to work, namely values.
If you have different values from the organisation you are merging with you are going to come into major conflict with your partners because all conflicts involve differences of values.
A Mother and her 25 year old daughter have a dialogue.
“Those tattoos are common, you get it from your father” says the mother. (The tattoos were actually the cutest you could hope to see.)
Tattoos are fashionable for some and not for others. Who is right?
Nobody. There is no golden rule for the right way to be.
If I wore a shirt in the 60’s that was worn by one of the 3 musketeers, I would have been called a faggot. Now…I could set a trend…and some might still call me a faggot! In ancient Greece they might have jumped on me – pardon the rather low level pun!
If they call me an invasive alien from Alpha Centauri, that would be fine as long as I could love that in myself.
“Who cares?” says wisdom.
Wisdom knows that opinions change with the seasons. I have common and kitchy tastes and thoughts, it’s who I am. The Queen has deeply sequestered ‘commonness’ in her very expensive closet.
I want to love that which I am as best I can.
I went out for lunch yesterday with a couple of friends. One of them was wearing these very fashionable jeans, with holes in them. 40 years ago she would have been looked at like trailor trash.
This isn’t just about clothes. What part of your authentic self are you suppressing to passify others? How wise is that?
Re the mother-daughter issue, the judgement of ‘commonness’ is not the truth, it’s just a way to establish her superiority. When we feel inferior we defend it with superiority. We need to love rather than judge our own ‘commonness’.
That mother needs to be loving her own ‘commonness’ and however much of it exists in her husband, rather than judging it.
We use ignorance as a tool to manipulate and crucify ourselves and others. We do this with a tool that is the greatest lie of all.
We pretend that we know the truth.
When the mother calls the tattoo “common” she is simply running from the pain inside of her which says she cannot control her daughter and from the pain that is caused by her own sense of inferiority around where ‘commonness’ resides in her. She is deluded by the lie that says “If I could control my daughter, I would be happy.”
She cannot see that her job is to love her daughter, whatever tattoo or partner or ‘vice’ she might bring to her door, not to try to control her every move.
If the daughter believes her, she dives into a pool of pain with her mother. If she doesn’t believe her, she is free. “What if my mother is right?” or “It is so painful that my mother cannot love me as I am?”
It is hard for her not to believe her mother because the negative conditioning created by our culture runs very deep. This young woman has, I think, not much understanding of how fabulous she is.
That is the great Self-Esteem conundrum. Very few of us have a clue as to how to honour our true nature.
This mother, bless her, is in too much pain to love anything that is out of her control. My wish for her daughter, is to see this and let go of trying to control her mother back – which does not mean letting the mother abuse her – loving herself all the while as deeply as she can.
Our job is to loves ourselves as we are, not to want it from our parents, our partners and the rest of the world.
In my estimation, this is wisdom.