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The Difference between Judgment and Discernment

The Difference between Judgment and Discernment by Alexa Thorvalson

“There is an important distinction between judgement and discernment.

That distinction is often a bit ambiguous and confusing. We are conditioned to “be nice,” “agreeable,” and “not to judge.” We are told to be accepting of all and to not “rock the boat.” Additionally, rejection of any type can create fear within us that keeps us hustling and editing our own truth. Unfortunately, in our desire to be peaceful and easy going we may have traded in our authenticity.

What is the difference between judgement and discernment?

Discernment is an inner knowing sourced in genuine truth, while judgment is sourced in fear. Discernment is a spark of intuitive knowing, an inner voice of principle and certainty that aligns us with our path, purpose, and inspiration. Judgement is about control and uses fear and manipulation as a means to gain it.

Discernment shares power. It allows your opinions to be valuable even if we disagree. Judgement attempts to covet power. It uses black or white thinking, words like “always,” “never,” and “everyone” to create an air of expertise without fact checking. Discernment says, “I am the expert on what works for me” and judgement says “I am the expert of everything.”

Discernment constructs. Judgement deconstructs. Discernment uses truth to inspire truth. It offers wisdom in discord, allowing both sides to understand and thus grow. Judgement tears down systems because it is based in being right, and thus needs to make another wrong.

Discernment is sourced in assertion, accountability, and honesty while judgement is sourced in aggression, blame, shame, prejudice, racism, and stereotyping. One takes ownership while the other passes it off by projecting any shadow qualities.

Discernment is responsive while judgement is reactive. Reactive thinking, based in fear, recreates the past over and over again while responsive thinking opens the door to new possibilities. Discernment is openly skeptical while judgement is locked in cynicism.

Having a discerning opinion is like walking into a room and not liking the décor. Perhaps you point out that it is just not your taste. Walking into the same room with judgement means you ridicule, shame, or put down the owner for not having proficient decorating skills.

Living our lives without discernment is like sailing a boat without a rudder. We’ll get somewhere it just may not be where we actually want to go. Sure, we may blow around the vast ocean bumping into things, but we will waste a lot of time getting there. Judgement on the other hand closes our world so we can only move in one direction, even if that direction leads us to unhealthy and dysfunctional places.

To live our very best life and be our very best selves we must embrace the difference. No time like the present is it more important to have solid boundaries, grounded in our authentic values and ideals, and stand up for them.”

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