Discernment

Updated: May 13

You’ll hear me say “no judgment” a lot. Sometimes I am joking. Making a point that whatever you want to do, even it’s f*cking ridiculous, you do you.


But usually, even then, what I mean is, you should do whatever it is you need to do. No judgment.


Judgment is a reaction. It is almost automatic. Without awareness, we don’t even notice we judge. Discernment is what happens when we choose to evaluate the usefulness of our judgment.



If we were able to let go of judgment, we wouldn’t hold onto stress, worry, fear, resentment, jealousy, anger, suffering, or any of the challenging emotions. We experience them, but we don’t become them.


What? How are our experiences and judgment related? Judgment is our brain interpreting a physical feeling or emotion. We feel something, and our brain labels it. That label is the judgment. Good or bad. Positive or negative. Better or worse.


This label provides us with actionable information. Do I run towards this or away from it? Do I reach out or recoil? Do I embrace or push away? Do I stop or keep going?


It is helpful to choose the desired result before taking action. What if this situation simply is, and I can choose how to act, and get what I want? What do I do without judgment? Is this information - my interpretation - useful?


This is where judgment becomes discernment. This is a purposeful pause.


When we ask ourselves "is this thought, this feeling we’ve now labeled, is this useful to us, or not?" we can choose.


Here’s an example.


I feel a bit queezy and I am suddenly out of breath. I label this nervous. This means I am afraid. I shouldn’t do this.


I feel a bit queezy and I am suddenly out of breath. I am excited. I can’t wait to do this. Here I come.


What is the situation? You’re giving an acceptance speech for a major award.


Whichever label you choose, nervous or excited, that will determine the effectiveness of your next action.


All our feelings and thoughts are valid. They are real. They are not all useful. In fact, they can be debilitating if you don’t use discernment.


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