Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Discerning True Worth

Our true worth is not measured comparatively. It is not found in being more than some things or less than others. It stands in it's own right and is self evident. It is often in the areas of our struggles, not in the things that come most easily that it is revealed.

Anyone who has had a little kid make them a card or a picture and you can tell that they worked at it lovingly, knows this. As an uncle (officially and unofficially), I've had some stuff on my fridge from nieces and nephews that I have treasured. I didn't look at it and say "oh the depth perception is all wrong, what kind of nonsense is this"? I don't think anyone with a heart would de-value something like that, and yet how often are we self discouraging. Thoughts like "oh I could never be any good at that" or "So and so is much better at this sort of thing than I" often sideline our creativity, or in some instances our opportunities for growth or being a voice to what we see as need.

There is a great difference between judging and discerning. I like to think of it like what you see in an Olympic sport, like figure skating. When we watch a figure skater we sometimes see in the corner of the screen the skater's coach and occasionally we see the judges, but the judges don't hold up numbers while the skater is skating. They wait till the skater is done. The judges are only involved in that one limited event, while the coach will probably be working with that skater further along, whether they win or lose that day they will be back at practice and back in training and needing constructive feedback.

In our own work, we occasionally have to judge our actions in particular situations. Maybe we blow up at a colleague or we gain a satisfying victory in a challenge. These moments of downfall or attainment are important but tomorrow is another day. We take from these experiences the business of discernment, to learn and keep doing, to not throw in the towel and to look at our progress. I have had to learn to be more of a discerning coach with myself and less of a cranky judge.


I can remember a time where someone suggested I take a class in something I wasn't good at, something where I maybe wouldn't necessarily ever be good at it but to learn anyway. I ended up taking pottery. It was a lot of fun. The stuff I made was pretty lopsided and much of it I couldn't even pass off as a paper weight, but it gave me a pretty good appreciation of what goes into making a beautiful bowl or a good hand crafted mug. I learned about different kinds of glazes and what makes somethings work and some things not. I can see and appreciate the craftsmanship. About a year later, by coincidence I dated a very nice person who happened to be a potter. One day when I was visiting, I saw some (what I thought) beautiful bowls by his back door, when I commented on one, I was told; "oh they're mistakes, that one has a crack near the lip, I'm throwing them away". I asked him for that bowl and I'm glad I did, I still treasure it. In a funny way it ended up representing the relationship. We're still friendly despite a crack or two, and there's somethings, like that friendship, worth keeping.

Our own inner worth works like that. The feelings of debt, the feelings of owing or in many instances the need to pay things forward that have been given to me, are all powerful motivators. Sure I love to share what I'm good at, but I have also learned to welcome the opportunities to do things where I'm not and to appreciate better in others the things they share. At the same time, my values sometimes show me situations and relationships that don't always balance. Sometimes it is important to leave things and people that are not compatible with our growth, but these experiences as teachers also have their worth.


In Tarot the suit of Pentacles refers a great deal to our material security, our possessions and our financial affairs. Issues of profit and loss. On an inner level I have found that it refers to our natural values. When we pay attention to these things, like a gardener pays attention to the values of a plant, we see what makes things grow in ourselves and in our affairs and alternately what makes us wither. When our values are properly aligned, when we are "in our element", we see results and there is progress, a positive payoff. When we aren't aligned, when we are out of touch with those values it really doesn't matter what we gain or not, we aren't satisfied.Sometimes we get hooked into the negative payoff.  Discernment  helps me to find what I need to move forward, what I can let go of and where I need to be to offer best what I can.