Making Good Choices: Discernment vs. Judgement
We make judgments about people all the time, and they are usually not helpful. “That jerk just cut me off on the freeway!” “That girl is rude.” “That guy is an ignorant fool.” “That politician is an evil wall-building destroyer of humanity.” And these judgments are based on our personal emotionally-charged perception and experience. They are over-stated. They are almost always negative. Judgments are generally pretty damning, cutting off any further conversation or meaningful connection.
But there’s another way – one that opens Free Choice to Discern the best possible future…
Life experience has taught many of us to be careful about making judgments. We have learned, usually the hard way, that being judgmental feels crappy and leads to a come-uppance at some point. When we look closely, our judgments often reveal truths about ourselves that we don’t like, so we project them on others. Our judgments are not our most mature responses to reality.
Our judgments make too many ASSumptions (emphasis is intentional). They feed a sense of entitled expectation, and put limitations on an otherwise limitless future.
Yet sometimes you just know that something, or someone, is not good for you. Your gut tells you. Your instincts tell you. Your angels whisper in your ear. You can feel it in your heart that this thing, this situation, this relationship – is not right for you.
Should you toss away this feeling, this Knowing, because it is a “judgment?”
Should you feel guilt for having such seemingly judgmental feelings?
Should you ignore all negative perceptions and feelings in your body?
To do so would be to ignore your powers of Discernment, and to make meaningless the Gift of Free Choice.
Discernment is a skill of wisdom. To discern the truth from the lie, the right from the wrong, the good from the bad – this, if it is not done from a place of fear, is Discernment. Fear is the underpinning of Judgment, as it is the underpinning of all negative emotion that would have us defend ourselves from imagined attacks. Discernment is not a defense. It is a rising felt-sense of truth. It rises from the body, not from the mind.
Discernment is how we shape our adult values. As children, we are fed whatever values our parents held. As grown-ups, we discern what is truth for us, and we create our own values. I make my decisions based on my values. I value health, joy, free creativity, faith and love. So I make decisions based on this. And when I encounter people who choose illness, complaining, victimhood, pessimism and fear, I choose to limit contact with them. Does this make me judgmental? No. I’m using my discernment to see what is Right for me. Does that mean I hate this person? No. In fact, if I’m in touch with my truest self, I love this person. I just don’t want to be involved in their drama. I wish only for them what is in their Highest Good – whatever that may be. And I accept that it may be in that person’s Highest Good to stay in pain for a while to learn some lesson. I think the AA term for it is that they are “doing their research.” But that doesn’t need to include me. I am detached, although I am never completely separated, as we all share the same web.
Discernment honors Free Choice. Free Choice is a sacred gift that we all have. We get to choose our actions, our beliefs, and our responses. This is so uber cool. See, the Divine doesn’t have “Free Choice.” It’s a really human thing. And we crazy humans – you just never know what we’ll do! We exercise Free Choice in all sorts of crazy ways. We surprise ourselves, our friends, and, I think, even God with our crazy ideas and surprising choices. And that’s great!
The best choices – the best use of Free Choice – is to act from Discernment. If you look back in your life to the best choices you ever made, I bet you felt guided, as if that choice was the “only” choice, even if it didn’t make logical sense at the time. This is a really clear fabulous example of great Discernment. You followed your wisdom. You honored the signs. You went with your heart. And you chose what was in the highest good. That’s the best use of Discernment right there. And if you had been stuck in some Judgemental hissy fit, you would not have been available to make that great decision. You would have stubbornly said NO to your own wisdom.
So next time you have a choice to make, feel into whether you are coming from a fear-based Judgment, or a gentle guided Discernment. I hope this distinction might support you in making that Free Choice that is your divine birthright, and that sets you up for happiness and fulfillment.