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The Wisdom of Worth
by Gloria McArter, PhD

At times, when I have heard a voice within me say “the wisdom of worth” or counselling clients describe me as “a wise person,” it has surprised me. Wisdom has not been a common word in my vocabulary. And while worth, worthiness, and feeling worthy are words I use often, they describe how I have wanted to think, feel, and be in my world. For often, my life has not been that way.

Many, many times, the person I experienced myself to be was defective and unworthy to the core. However, each time an inner wisdom would help me to heal this shame through a new and deep, life-affirming experience of my own worth. Thus “wisdom” and “worth” have been essential to my personal growth.

Welcome to my life journey.

As a counselling therapist and mentor – an empathetic and compassionate guide to individuals, couples and groups – I have learned that my journey is similar to many others. The yearning for love, for connection with others and a deeper spiritual energy, for significance and belonging are universal desires meant to be honored and practiced.

Along the way, the “wisdom of worth” has invited me to heal my deep, inner wounds, sharpen my observation skills so as to see all as worthy of attention, and rest in the acceptance of the “ups” and “downs” of life – both the “light” and the “darkness.” And this review of my progress has helped me make wiser choices about how I want to continue.

Recently, a dear friend heard me describe what I call “my shame knot” pull tightly, in my solar plexus, as a client spoke angrily disapproving words about my services. My friend said she resonated with this experience and wondered why, after so many years of effort, we continue the healing work even though the possibility of pain remains.

“Yes”, I answered. “The pain does remain. AND I notice how the knot is less tight and disappears more quickly, as I remember to breathe in love from my universal energy source and send this love to my clients.”

Thus this new experience is “worth it” for me. I recognize that I have acquired Wisdom from my many life experiences of rejection – and am now more able to meet this ongoing challenge with love, respect and compassion for myself and others.

Why Wisdom?
In ancient cultures, wisdom was mostly associated with aging and spirituality. Could it be that wisdom is more relevant for me now because of my almost seven decades of life experience? Might my search for meaning and what is spiritual (for me) provide the energy I need to meet the daily challenges in my friendships, intimate relationship, service to community, and work?

Wisdom creates opportunities for transitions. Transition is about change – change that may initially disorient and bring pain, but which creates pathways to awesome discovery and growth. These experiences connect us to the deeper meaning of our lives, so we move from who we are now into the people we want to be.

The intelligent person seeks knowledge to eliminate ambiguity, whereas the wise person seeks to better understand ambiguity, by exploring the big picture which includes different perspectives. Wisdom leads us to understand more deeply, and makes us humble in the awareness of the limitations of our knowing.

In my usual curious manner, I wonder what kinds of experiences are the best teacher for becoming wise. What I read in the research is that adversity is that teacher; and that is what I have experienced as well. Suffering teaches us to be more compassionate to ourselves and others. Adversity guides us to discover the deeper meaning of our life so we make more worthy and valuable choices. As we learn from our mistakes, our pain and suffering, we experience the courage and trust that enhances the wisdom experience.

As I think about it now, perhaps that is what my inner wisdom was saying to me all these years: How WISE you are to transition through the messages you received of your inadequacies, of not being good enough. Enjoy your transformation to good enough, and even more – to awesome! Open your heart with spiritful energy and share your experience with others. For wisdom is the deep knowing that connects all of us as ONE.

See to read more about Gloria and her work, articles on this topic, and information about the W.I.S.E. circle.


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