What Does Wisdom Mean To You?

05/02/2017 12:06 pm ET Updated May 03, 2017

Someone recently asked me, “What does wisdom mean to you?” I understand how vague that term has become, but, the definition that came to my mind was, wisdom is the ability to be present. When possible, to try and take a holistic view of a situation and see it from a well-rounded, compassionate perspective without initial judgment.

Of course, there may be, or have been situations in our lives, where we need to trust that what’s happening is dangerous, listen to our innate wisdom and protect ourselves, so we can survive. That’s the beauty of inner wisdom.

The times when people have said to me, “you are wise” it was because I was responding to them in a fully present state. I was listening to what they were saying both verbally and non-verbally. I wasn’t thinking ahead to what I was going to say next, I wasn’t distracted by the noises that were external or internal. I was simply able to hear what they were saying and/or asking and respond in a way that was thoughtful and respectful.

Truthfully, sometimes the wisest thing I have said to another person, and to myself, is I’m simply not able to be objective, or helpful.

There are still some topics that when placed in front of me, I will react from a purely emotional place. No objectivity, compassion or understanding anywhere in my realm of consciousness. I understand that’s an effect of my trauma. 

Sometimes, I still have to work hard at staying present. There are times when it  is one of my most frustrating and biggest challenges living with PTSD. When I’m dealing with flashbacks, and triggers, staying present is often that elusive tool, that I know I have to employ. I think a lot of people, especially those of us who have been through trauma would say that staying present is a constant work in progress.

I believe as time goes on, I’m able to be present more often. I notice the birds singing outside the window, the wind gently blowing, my neighbor’s lawn mower, the noise of kids playing at the nearby playground and the sky. I love the sky!  It’s paying attention to the present that keeps me grounded in the wise place where I continue to heal, grow, change and live.

What does wisdom mean to you?

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.

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