Monday, July 12, 2010

Judgment vs. Discernment - What's the Difference and What Can It Do For You?

Grrrr . . . Damn that guy really pisses me off. He should not be . . . I can't believe he . . . That is so wrong . . . blah blah blah

You know when you are saying things like that, you are being judgmental.

How do you know?

It is sooooooo easy!

If you are upset, angry, fuming and telling others about the rightness or wrongness of another and their behavior, you are being judgmental. If you are pointing out the faults of another, you are being judgmental. If you are making statements about someone and you are emotionally upset about them and what you are saying about them, you are being judgmental.

You need to stop that.

Over and over again you hear that judging others is a bad idea. The law of cause and effect tells you that if you judge others, you will be judged. The Golden Rule says you should treat others the way you wish to be treated.

There are a few problems with the don't judge others rule.

First, it isn't easy. In fact, it isn't easy at all.

Second, do not judge another does not mean do not have an opinion or do not use discernment. And often people misunderstand that. They think they are supposed to just forgive everyone for everything and ignore poor behavior. No. No. No. That is called being a doormat.

And God does not want you to allow yourself to be mistreated by another. That is you saying that you - a child of God - are not important, don't matter, and not worthy of Divine love and happiness. That is definitely not the case. Your ability to connect with the Divine Presence actually improves when you become empowered, improve your self esteem, start to thrive, be happy, and feel fulfilled. When you surround yourself with others who appreciate your gifts and treat you with loving kindness, everyone is better off.

I've gone into depth in previous articles about all the things we judge - from a person's appearance, to their behavior, to the friends and career they choose. We have infinite opinions about the rightness and wrongness of things.

If you are talking about someone else and you are riled up, angry, upset, or stressed, then you can be pretty sure that you are being judgmental.

So if stress, anger, and getting all riled up about things ultimately leads to disease, heart attack, and other serious physical consequences, it only makes sense to eliminate the cause.

But, where to begin?

There is no right or wrong, good or bad. There are simply beneficial and detrimental things, people, and behavior. There are things, people, and behaviors that are harmonious or disharmonious for you, your life, and your well being.

Most people believe that killing another is wrong. And you can quote scriptures and a whole pile of other stuff to back up the point. But what if you have to kill someone in order to stop them from killing you or someone you love that is unable to defend themselves?


Eating sugar is considered detrimental to your health. But what if you are stranded on a deserted island and the only thing to eat is sugar cane? In that case it could actually be the only thing to save your life.


I could literally go on forever.

Money isn't bad. It is a means to afford the products, services, and experiences that you desire. It can be used for evil purposes. It can also fund food and shelter for people in need. What you do with it will cause it to be beneficial or detrimental for yourself and others.

Lying is considered evil. Yet in order to plan a special surprise party or gift for a loved one without their knowledge, sometimes truth has to be bent a bit to pull it off.

No one is strictly good or bad, right or wrong. Various behaviors by people are beneficial or detrimental. And that is what you have to keep in mind when choosing friends, a spouse, or a work environment.

When someone does something that is hurtful, you begin stepping out of judgment by not making the person wrong. You stop looking at the person as a totality and start looking at the behavior.

Certain behaviors are just not O.K.

And its easy to know which ones those are if you go back to the Golden Rule. Harming or mistreating another is never O.K. - whether the harm and mistreatment is physical, emotional, mental, or something else.

Rape, murder, infidelity, stealing, gossip, taking advantage of others for your own gain, cruelty, etc. all go against the Golden Rule. These behaviors are just not O.K. I'm sure you can think of many more.

These behaviors are not to be condoned. They are not to be accepted. And several of them result in the person being punished and taken out of society. The wellbeing of others is in jeopardy if they are walking around free on the streets. So they are banished, sometimes for life.

If someone you love mistreats you, it is shocking and painful. If it becomes a pattern, then you need to eliminate them from your life. That is called discernment.

You have to spend time with people who appreciate and accept who you are - warts and all. If you have to pretend to be a certain way, always worried that someone won't like you if you let them see who you really are, then that is a form of lying. You have to be real.

If the people in your life are always critical, judgmental, and unkind, then you are much better off without them.

There is nothing wrong with talking about a person and their behavior to your closest friend. I am not talking about gossip here. I mean looking at a situation with someone you trust and trying to discover the "truth" about how you played a role in the behavior, if that person was running some sort of fear that caused them to behave way out of character, or if this is the "truth" about how this person behaves and you need to distance yourself.

That is how you discover what feels good to you and what does not. That is how you discern the people and situations you choose to be around.

Judgment is detrimental to both you and your health.

Discernment is healthy and very necessary to your wellbeing and self esteem.

Have a deLightful day,

I would love to hear what you have to say about this subject!


Brenda Freeman said...

Fantastic article. I have recently been in a situation where it could have been very easy for me to judge. However, surprisingly, even to myself, I have accepted the situation and the behavior of the other person, and could write about it without feeling pain or anger, just acceptance. It wasn't easy, but oh so worthwhile for my own peace of mind.

Takara said...

Brenda - Thanks so much for sharing. It is such a wonderful feeling to be in the middle of a situation that most people would be upset or freaking out about and simply being at peace and dealing with it calmly and rationally.

Unknown said...

Sometimes I think acceptance and focusing on ourselves can be the most challenging part of living well.

Susan Critelli said...

Clear articulation of a concept that really confuses people. I especially liked your examples of things that are wrong, except when...

Nicely done. This is the first time I have come across your blog, but I will be back.

Lisa Birnesser said...

Great post, Takara. I love ow you clearly defined the difference between judgment and discernment.Great examples as well. First time here to you blog. Thanks for the wonderful information!

Unknown said...

First time here! Great read :) I often times, instead of judging will ask myself what makes others do the things they do? It gives me another angle to look at.

Sherie Venner said...

Excellent post! We all need to have discernment...and we don't need to judge. I agree with you that we need to be real, too! Absolutely!

Moira Hutchison ~ Your Success Coach said...

Beautiful post - it's true that we need to be discerning as it helps us steer through life and keep true to our own values and needs. However - when I feel myself slipping into feeling or talking in a judgmental way - it's a red flag to me to sit down with myself and see what I am avoiding within myself. My belief is that judgement is always rooted within the self ;).

Lisa Frederiksen - said...

Fantastic article, Debbie! I loved your examples and the important distinction between discernment and judgement. Also - when in the sphere of people who are always judging, it helps to remember they're doing that about you when you're not there - is it worth engaging with that kind of person? Thanks so much!

Carl Mason-Liebenberg said...

I love this article! Judgment versus discernment...You are right, it is so easy to slip into judgment, yet is is a terribly destructive habit on so many levels including health. Discernment is wisdom and leads to growth and progress...even healing!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for helping me to understand that line between judging and discerning. I do try not to judge others as I hate being judged myself.
Great to be introduced to your blog through Strategic Social Media!

Solvita said...

Great article, Debbie. This is true: When you judge.... "You stop looking at the person as a totality and start looking at the behavior." Yes... we see the ego in another and we judge with our ego. It is an illusion, we judge and by doing it we create more illusions in the process. Thanks for writing it! :)

Sharon O'Day said...

Wonderfully comprehensive article, Debbie. And the topic -- judgment vs discernment -- is one I haven't seen addressed before. You've managed to open the eyes of a whole bunch of "eyes-wide-open" women!

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