- the ability to judge well
- perception in the absence of judgement with a view to obtaining spiritual direction & understanding
In its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think in terms of, what is in my highest good or in the highest good of all those concerned?
As I reflect back on my life and all the lessons I have learnt to this point, I have to say, discernment is by far the most crucial. For most of my life, I naively thought everyone should just get along, be nice to one another and have each other’s back. After countless times of feeling let down, I finally understood the importance of discernment. I would get ‘red flags’ about people or things I was about to embark on but would forge forward anyway thinking, ‘it’ll all work out – surely they won’t do anything to hurt me’. Needless to say, things didn’t always work out and I was left hurt and dismayed. Not entirely their fault because on some level I actually knew it was not the right decision but did it anyway.
The ancient wisdom books speak of discernment in this way:
“Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world”.
In other words, know thy own self!
What is your truth, may not be aligned with what others believe as their truth. Not everyone is in integrity, honest and thinking about your best interest! The key to living an uncompromising life lies in one’s ability to exercise discernment in every area of his or her life. Failure to distinguish between truth and error leaves you subject to believing things that are not true for you and be at the effect of subtle (or not so subtle) manipulation, often times leaving you to compromise.
Unfortunately, discernment is an area where most people on this path to peace stumble. It’s about having the ability to measure the things you are taught, against the infallible knowledge of: ‘What is in my highest good?’ If not, you are likely to unwittingly engage in all kinds of decision making and behaviors that are out of alignment with what will best serve you. In short, you are not armed to take a deliberate stand against the onslaught of unhealthy thinking and attitudes that face you throughout your day.
There is this store house of information within you, known as your inner wisdom. It has all the answers you need to live your best life. This inner wisdom is what is telling you what is right and what is wrong according to your unique life journey. It is incumbent upon you to honor and seize upon the discernment that this inner wisdom has provided. Without it, you are at risk of being tossed here and there by the waves of life’s experiences, and carried about by the wind like a rudderless ship.
Having the courage to follow your truth requires you to let go of your need for others approval and seek only self-approval. Ask yourself, is this right for me? Does this resonate with me or am I saying yes, when I truly mean no?’ It doesn’t mean that the other person is crazy or wrong by what they are asking, it simply means, it’s not right for you.
Discernment intersects your life at every point. And your inner wisdom or inner truth provides you with the needed discernment about every issue. It is through trusting and listening intently to your inner guide, that you will ultimately make choices that lead you to more joy, more happiness and more fulfillment in your life.
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