Friday Musings: Judgment and Discernment

As humans we have the abilities for higher level reasoning. This power allows us to infer details about our environment and fellow humans that are not immediately obvious.

Our ability to “read between the lines” is one of the clearest qualities that sets us apart from the rest of the natural world. We observe, compile new information, and draw conclusions to develop a deeper understanding of the world around us. Through this process we grow increasingly better prepared for the myriad situations that might arise in our future. Habits, routines, collective tribal wisdom, and group cooperative tactics arise from these abilities - an incredible adaptive advantage.

Judgment was vital for survival during our evolutionary past. In this way, judgment is natural and innate

However, like so many of our natural inclinations, we can over-indulge to our detriment. As with our affinity for the energy abundance for sugary foods, we have grown judgment-obese as individuals and as a society.

The very judgment tendency that was so advantageous to bring us to our current state, for many, now stands in the way of further growth. We are so quick to judge and so unwilling to re-assess our view of a person, a group, an ideology, or a theory, that we bind ourselves in place. Rigidity is the enemy of growth.

Judgment and Discernment

You will never switch-off that part of your mind that constantly surveys and draws inference from your surroundings. Nor do you want to. The important distinction comes between judgment and discernment.

Judgment is rigid. Judgment is fixed. When we judge, we conclude. Conclusions are final. Conclusions assume your personal (probably fictional) version of another person’s past, present, and thus, future. Judgment leaves not room to re-examine and grants others no opportunity for growth.

Discernment is ever re-assessing. Discernment is a process with no end result. It is understanding that others will constantly change just as you will.

The benefit of our judgment abilities is to always have the most accurate accounting of our present situation to best inform our future decisions. As soon as any judgment hardens to fixed or thickens to resist constant stirring, it now hinders the very benefits it meant to achieve. It stands in the way of drawing accurate, present inferences.

Discernment in the moment recognizes that past experience is no more valuable than any present observations that might be found with an open, unbiased attitude.

We all believe ourselves capable of great change. You would not have come to IHD if you did not believe you might grow from your investment here. It is time that we extend this same blessing to others. Grant others that same ability to growth and improve as you feel within yourself.