Judgment or Discernment…you be the judge!

Judgment is a hot topic with my clients, but this week a friend asked me, “how can I be spiritually evolved and judgemental at the same time?” My answer, “because you are still a human with a human brain.”

Neuroscience tells us that we have a dual-process situation going on upstairs. The logical conscious system, which is where your awareness, intentions, and rational are held. And the non-conscious reflexive system, which is more reactive and irrational, it is also the system that is most frequently in control. It’s also where your deeply held beliefs live so working on those beliefs makes for a more fulfilling life but that’s for another article.


So humans judge. It’s what we do, we notice, decipher, compare, measure, etc. It’s how we naturally navigate situations, relationships, and places. When you meet someone for the first time, you instantly start downloading information about that person, what they look like, how their voice sounds, the color of their skin, how they smell, if they are wearing a cross or perhaps a hijab. You start to categorize what similarities you have and where you might differ. Our minds naturally categorize and compare, it’s what we’ve been taught by society combined with our fears that cause us to move from our natural judgment into toxic judgment.


We all have a fear of being judged on some level. Sometimes we even do this really counter-productive thing to avoid the pain of being judged…you guessed it, WE JUDGE OTHERS!  We secretly devalue others in our minds so that if they judge us maybe it won’t hurt so bad, sounds insane right? Because it kind of is, trying to avoid the judgments of others is like surfing and trying not to get wet. The healthier way to reduce the pain of other’s judgment is to get really freaking clear on what is true for you & WHO you are so that you can reduce SELF-JUDGMENT. Because part of our fear is that “their” judgments could be true. For example, if someone said I have no class, it might trigger something inside me from growing up poor, I might actually stop to question if I’ve done enough to educate myself and understand social etiquette. But if someone said I lack empathy and compassion for others, it wouldn’t even land because I am very clear on WHO I am in this area. 


Judgment happens when we are triggered, when we attach meaning to things, when we assume or interpret. Triggers have purpose, they act as an alarm system telling us to get curious about what we need to heal & what parts of ourselves we need to own or accept. Oftentimes, we get triggered, our reflexive system kicks in and we respond with a judgment like, “well, that person is just a jerk.” End of story, pain avoidance, no healing or raised awareness taking place. This is toxic judgment and it leads to condemnation, polarization, segregation, and disdain for ourselves and others. Toxic judgment feeds the ego and creates a perception of power. We are judging that person is better or worse than us and therefore that person has more or less power than us. 


Discernment is the cognitive ability that allows us to make healthy and appropriate choices. When we encounter people or situations that don’t make us feel good, we download that information and use it to determine how we will move forward and whether or not we will be in those situations again. Discernment is essentially healthy judgment because we are not attaching meaning to anything nor are we creating value or worth assumptions about ourselves, others or situations. The information is simply, information, the discernment is whether or not it feels good or right for you. 


Our discernments help shape our preferences and having preferences does not make you any less spiritual or enlightened. We are allowed to have preferences and your preferences do not make you better or worse than me if my preferences are different. I listened to a podcast where the host was saying something along the lines of, think of your discernment like going up to a buffet and making your plate. You put your preferences on your plate and leave the rest but you don’t judge the pasta as being bad, you just discern that it isn’t for you because maybe the sauce isn’t your preference or maybe you are cutting carbs. Being more aware doesn’t mean that we have to LIKE everything and everyone, we simply love and accept as is and use our discernment to shape our experiences. 


If you notice you have an overreaction to something, you are probably judging in a toxic way. If you notice you have an opinion on something (without a nasty attitude) you are probably judging in a discerning way.  If you are attaching meaning about yourself or someone else for a shortcoming (ie. impatience = bad person) this is toxic judgment. What you can do, is notice the behavior and the attached meaning and choose a different response. Something like, “we all get impatient at times but that doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. I forgive myself for that judgment and moving forward I will work to become more patient for the sake of more peace and better relationships.” LIT-ER-AL-LY, say it out loud to yourself. You may think that’s goofy but it isn’t any goofier than the shit-talking going on in your head. True discernment builds insight and insight is when you are viewing the situation from the perspective of your Higher Self rather than through the lens of external pressures and fears. 

Have a great week! 

If you are ready to start unpacking your limiting beliefs and the judgments holding you back, you may be a great candidate for the Energy Leadership Index™ or coaching. Check out the rest of my site for more information.