Judgment Vs. Discernment, Part 1
by Linda-Ann Stewart
Those of us on the spiritual path generally aim to be nonjudgmental. We know the dangers of being judgmental, and what can happen to ourselves and others when we fall into those negative patterns. But do you really know what judging is? Judgement is when a person places an emotional value of good or bad on an activity, person, or experience. When they see an apple, if they determine that it’s a terrible fruit, then anyone who eats one is also bad. Judgement comes from a feeling of shame and inferiority.
A person who judges others feels inadequate. They feel that they aren’t good enough. Not that what they DO isn’t good enough. But that they are not enough. They probably had parents and an environment that criticized them repeatedly, and they have internalized those statements. The only way they can get some relief from the pain and anguish is to dump their negative feelings on others. They judge others as “bad,” and then, momentarily, they can feel superior to someone or something else.
I once had someone tell me that anyone who likes the color green is stupid and has no sense of taste. Because I had the audacity to disagree, she took it personally, as if my opinion was attacking hers.
Being judgmental becomes a vicious cycle. If a person judges others, you can bet they’re doing the same thing to themselves. Otherwise, they wouldn’t need to find a target to shame. As people who are interested in developing spiritually, we don’t want to judge others, and we certainly want to stop judging ourselves. But too many people on the spiritual path swing too far in the other direction, and don’t utilize their God-given ability to discern what is better for them and what is not so great. There actually is a difference between judgement and discernment.
Copyright 2001, 2012 Linda Ann Stewart
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