The knowledge of worth

“Knowledge is only rumor until it lives in the bones.”

When I began writing my last post, I intended to write about muscle memory. About 1,500 words in, I realized I’d gone a totally different direction. I split that lengthy draft into two posts and shared instead about the place where Voldemort meets software licenses.

In that post, I wrote about how:

A few years ago, I began putting key licensing costs and terms into a simple worksheet. Rather than emailing these and calling my job done unless folks emailed back with questions, I’d set up time to review live, explain what the review was for, and walk folks through the worksheet–notably, the places in licensing agreements where Voldemort tends to live.

At first, I created licensing worksheets as a communication device. I needed something easier for stakeholders to digest than huge blocks of contract excerpts, which make many people sleepy, some anxious, and others downright agitated. (“I’m a good person! I shouldn’t have to spend my time looking at this stuff! Gah!”)

Something funny started happening after I’d been using those worksheets for a while. I started creating them even when I wasn’t trying to explain anything to anyone else. The work itself changed my relationship to the contracts I reviewed; rather than being lifeless statements of fact that lived in my head, they were living things for which I was developing internal roadmaps.

The work itself made them alive to me. I saw it, though I did not then have words for it.

When I read the Asaro saying that “knowledge is only rumor until it lives in the bones,” I flashed to the moment when I realized my licensing worksheets were important to me. That the work of developing them was critical to my deeper understanding.

That work, as the saying suggests, was how I moved personal knowledge of a contract from rumor to reality.

Understanding that was critical to a new kind of work I’m doing: making the knowledge of my worth live in my bones.

This knowledge of implicit worthiness can’t get into my bones just because I think affirming thoughts or hear affirming words from others. To get it into my bones, I have to do the work of getting it there. I must practice, not simply profess.

So, each day now, inspired by Brené Brown, I look for opportunities to act as if I am worthy. Each time I set a small boundary or am candid about what I need to succeed in a given situation,  I am building the knowledge of worth in my bones, beyond where the fretting of mind alone can reach.

This work is uncomfortable, compared to building software license summaries. I can never know for sure how someone will respond to any single effort.

And yet, far more than being uncomfortable, it’s empowering. Each time I act to stand for myself, I move my sense of my worth ever deeper into my bones. The deep comfort this grows within me is worth the shallow discomfort that, for a moment, precedes it.

That’s worth it.

I’m worth it.

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