Guard Your Treasure: On Learning To Be Discerning

It’s easy to make ourselves wrong for loving too quickly or too much when our heart gets broken. We think, “Why did I let that person in?” or “Why did I trust so easily?” 

Reproaching ourselves for being trusting or open is senseless. It’s actually a gift to be able to live open and to see what’s loveable in others. As with all gifts, however, there is a dark underbelly that’s built into this kind of unconditional openness. Being trusting without also having discernment has consequences.

For idealist types who tend to look for the best and to see what’s shiny, the challenge is that we also overlook the signals that inform us of the reality of a person. We get to pay for this oversight later when true colors are inevitably revealed.

Looking back we often realize that our intuition was informing us from the start and that we underplayed the warning signs in favor of what was more appealing. We can be so immersed in championing the beauty in someone that we don’t perceive clearly what’s really there.

Open and trusting types do well to learn to look before they leap.

Those of you reading this who are naturally more reserved and private or who have strong boundaries will likely not get where I’m coming from. You may find the idea of being ‘too open’ a bit crazy when you’re just trying to figure out how to let somebody in! We are operating on different ends of a spectrum.

Excessive openness and trusting easily has been my modus operandi and it has cost me dearly on more than one occasion. In my self-proclaimed naiveté, I tend to see what’s redeeming about others and to emphasize that while glossing over the other not so appealing ‘red flags’ that I see.

This pattern tends to play out most blatantly in my romantic relationships. I want so much for the man to be my shiny projection because it would give me what I think I want and need. My better judgment and sensibility go out the window. My needing and wanting muffles my usually piercing intuition. The cues that would actually provide a more realistic picture of the man I’m with get overlooked.

I ‘fall in love’ hard and fast but have no freakin' idea who I’m actually falling for. I make generous positive assumptions that often don’t check out--something I've experienced in friendships and business relationships as well. I’ve entrusted my heart too easily on more than one occasion and, as a result, have found myself in situations where my sensitivity and tenderness have not been honored. Excessive openness can become a liability.

I’m learning that discernment is a non-negotiable medicine that I must carry in my pouch at all times. It’s not only about having the discernment though, but also about being able to act on that wisdom and to erect boundaries when boundaries are appropriate. Not everyone is worthy of being entrusted with our most precious riches.

Of course, in the spiritual sense, we are all worthy of love and trust. I’m not disputing that fact. We are all divine. However, in the human experience, in much the same way as you would not leave your child under the care of just anyone, it’s inappropriate to entrust your treasures too hastily.

Vulnerability expert Brené Brown says we have to look before we take the vulnerability leap and choose carefully who we open up to. She says that most of us end up having one, two, (or maybe three), people in our lives who we can dive into the real deep end with and share our humanity with. Brené says that people have to earn the right to hear our story and to be exposed to our vulnerability. I agree wholeheartedly.

Case in point: Stop offering yourself up to people who haven’t earned it. An unconditionally open heart does not let in only good stuff. A light outside at night in the jungle attracts all manner of creature and insect. An open heart without discernment to guard at its gate is a straight-up liability.

I’m learning that I need to protect my sacred space and that it’s prudent to filter impeccably what I allow into my life, My vulnerability is not safe in the hands of just anyone. Trust must be earned. Treasures must be honored.

© 2014 Marie-Ève Bonneau