Posted by: Lea | June 2, 2009

Are You Being Judgmental or Discerning?

Life can be rather contradicting. I’ve been doing a lot of inner reflection recently and have had a few discussions with people I know, about various aspects of life.

To give you a better idea of what I’m talking about, the first contradiction I have difficulty with, and maybe you do too, is not judging people. I was taught that one should not judge and I have tried to avoid being judgmental. The thing is that not everyone who comes into your life is beneficial to your happiness or sense of wellbeing and some people can be out right detrimental to you. I’m sure you can think of at least one person, whether from your past or is currently in your life to some varying degree, who matches this description.

Living without judging

You can not live in the moment with awareness without determining whether a relationship with someone is good or detrimental to you in some way. To give an extreme example, I was married to a very abusive man. In the beginning of the relationship, there were little behavior indicators that I was not comfortable with and my intuition was sending alerts constantly. But those alerts were always followed with my mother’s words, “Do not judge!” So I would feel a need to overlook or ignore these signs and the intuitive feedback I was getting.

These three words has made it impossible to set personal boundaries and enforce them. I would intuitively know when someone was crossing a boundary with me, but I felt powerless to enforce my boundaries because that would be “judging” them.

What Does Judging and Being Judgmental Mean?

Judgmental-Of relating to or involving judgment. Characterized by a tendency to judge harshly.

Judging-To form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises. To hold as an opinion.To form a negative opinion about-Merriman-Webster Dictionary

Can You Avoid Using Judgment?

I don’t think you can. We use our judgment every day in decision making. I think we can all agree that the intention of the saying, “Do not judge,” doesn’t pertain the decision making process that helps us decide, for example, where we would like to live and so on, though such decisions require use of our judgment.

Two more words that could be used are discern and discerning. If we look at discern and discerning, we will find these definitions-

Discerning- Showing insight and understanding.

Discern-To detect with senses. To see or understand the difference-Merriman-Webster Dictionary

When Judgment Becomes Discerning

Essentially, when you are aware that someone is disturbing your personal energy field, who is causing you repeated or constant negative feelings that interferes with your peace of mind, your inner balance and sense of wellbeing, you can view it as being discerning and any decision to remove yourself from the influence of this person requires using your judgment of what is best for you.

Do not judge refers to being unfair to people solely because they are different than us in some way and is ego based.  If your opinion or judgment of someone makes you feel superior to them in some way, then you are using judgment negatively and with your ego. Racism and sexism is a form of judgment and displays its negative aspects. Using our judgment for correcting negative influences in our life, including other people, is a necessary process for our emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health.

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Responses

  1. “Judging” is a difficult word…kind of like “discrimination” or “prejudice.” If someone asked me if I’m in favor of discrimination or prejudice, I would of course say no. But, of course, it would be impossible to make any decision without discriminating, and much of that discrimination is based on prejudice (without prejudice, I’d eat raw onions again and again, each time finding out that I don’t like them. With prejudice, I decide against them before having that experience).

    Recently, I decided I wanted to make peace with some people I’d been angry with for a long time. With a couple of them, that meant making contact, forgiving and apologizing. In one case, though, I decided not to make contact. I decided that this place this person had had in my life was toxic and there was nothing to be gained by renewing the acquaintance. I’m not sure I need to judge him, though. Instead, I can simply acknowledge that, whoever’s fault it is, and, most likely, it’s partly his and partly mine, he and I are not a healthy combination. Thus, it’s simply best for both of us if he and I walk our own paths and don’t meet. So, obviously, there’s still judgement there, but it’s of the relationship, not of him or of me….

  2. Nice post. “Judging” is a tricky topic to tackle but I think you clearly and succinctly explained the differences.

  3. Dear Lea,

    As we journey on this learning path of life, the shining gems of truth lie buried in obscurity, only to be discovered with the tools of subtle wisdom. So all your efforts here are greatly appreciated by me and I’m sure by other seekers exploring their own path of experience. Our trials which seem like wounds or burdens can be transformed into healing empowerment’s by wisdom’s understanding.

    The simple distinction I would make between discernment and judgment can be discovered when we are able, even theoretically to separate the personal from the impersonal. Naturally when we’re directly involved in any situation, or relate to it personally in any way, it becomes more difficult to discern any sense of impartial judgment. That’s what courts are for. But even if in simple ways we can remove the self from the equation we can begin to see things differently.

    Consider one simple example; Perhaps we’re driving somewhere in a hurry, inevitably someone will get in our way, their just not helping, but they don’t even know it. As we look back passing them we may see a crying person or just a kid texting, either way why do we think they’re in our way? This is easy; our seeing is colored by our sense of self. Now consider an abusive relationship not even your very own but one like it, how difficult is that to see clearly. Now step it up a level to our own hurtful experience.

    I’m always reminded of an early lesson from A Course in Miracles, which simply says, “Perhaps there is another way of looking at this”; whatever we’re looking at. The point is I believe we get into all kinds of situations and judgments because we are deluded by our own sense of self. If we can’t step back and see things in an impersonal way we can never be free of judgments. But to be selfless is not to be cold and unfeeling. Now you may see a potential abuser and think this is a disaster waiting to happen. I wonder why this person is so disturbed. Perhaps if I can show unconditional kindness; it may begin to break the cycle of despair. Now don’t try this at home, but my point is to be selfless, non-judgmental doesn’t then mean we should sacrifice our own well being and join in another’s despair.

    To be selfless means we can set our self aside, relax our grip enough so that the self, whoever that is anyway, doesn’t react personally to every stimulus coming at us, not impressed by the unthinking or unknowing actions on our roadways or in our relations. So many things we can find to grate on our nerves, we become like puppets on a string; that is judgment. Discernment is to realize for the most part it’s nothing personal, we just happen to witness it all. We can be like a mirror reflecting everything before us without all this leaving a permanent impression on our clarity. There we find all things good, peace, love and joy. It’s a journey.

  4. Dear Lea,
    Somehow I want to be clear that I don’t think you or anyone can fix another person. It’s the old leading a horse to water metaphor. Nor do I belief that someone who suffers at the hands of another is in anyway responsible for that situation.

    I can only suggest this; I belief we aren’t really meant to see the future; I believe we’re only met to recognize what stands before us and then act according to what we feel and understand. Clearly then our task is to see clearly what lies before us and then follow our heart and trust its guidance.

    Using your own example which I respect and admire you for offering, let say you had a feeling, but didn’t want to judge, then you latter found out you could have seen things differently and act accordingly. Again I would say our sense of self leads us to do as we’re told, rather than follow our heart.

    One can say our heart can be mislead by self, but this is not so, our heart can be overruled but never mislead. Only a separate sense of self misleads and is mislead. ACIM might suggest we all suffer the wound of our sense of self, our vulnerability due to our belief in separateness. Thank you so much.

  5. Hello Lea,

    “No judging” to me is one of those misunderstood phrases that some people take too literally. In every circumstance in life we have to use our judgment,to make choices whether they are for our physical, mental, emotional or spiritual well-being. There is a difference between making a judgment call for our personal well-being and judging another, which says that their way is wrong and that they must change.

    I do believe that each person is entitled to live their life as they choose, until they are ready to make another choice.

    We do not know what lessons they are learning and we would be disrespectful to take that right away. What we have choice over is how we wish to live that has nothing to do with how another person behaves. To me, moving out of a toxic relationship is just that, not a judgment of another person.

    Thanks for bringing up these excellent points on this topic , I too have been thinking of writing a post on judging and will someday.

  6. Hello Lea,

    “No judging” to me is one of those misunderstood phrases that some people take too literally. In every circumstance in life we have to use our judgment,to make choices whether they are for our physical, mental, emotional or spiritual well-being. There is a difference between making a judgment call for our personal well-being and judging another, which says that their way is wrong and that they must change.

    I do believe that each person is entitled to live their life as they choose, until they are ready to make another choice.

    We do not know what lessons they are learning and we would be disrespectful to take that right away. What we have choice over is how we wish to live that has nothing to do with how another person behaves. To me, moving out of a toxic relationship is just that, not a judgment of another person.

    Thanks for bringing up these excellent points on this topic , I too have been thinking of writing a post on judging and will someday.

  7. this is a very tricky thing to master. I have found a very simple solution to judgment or discernment it is to simply ask – What would love do now? I have always received the answer I needed. For instance I was in a relationship that wasn’t going well so just before I went to sleep one night, I asked what would love do now? The next morning it was so clear that I needed to get out of the relationship immediately because it was not good for me. I did leave this relationship right away and it was done with so much love and kindness that I was amazed. It really works.

    Love and Blessings,
    AngelBaby

  8. It’s so tricky issue, Lea. I know what you mean.

    In fact, human relationship is so complicated to the matter that you can neither prevent yourself from judging nor continue on judging!

    I simply mean judging people’s intention is not our business because you can’t open someone’s heart/brain to see through.

    What is good, however, is to deal with their actions/words and balance them according to our needs; for example I think dealing with unfair marriage/relationship – on any level – has nothing to do with badly judging people; it’s rather are we living a healthy relation or not?

    So it’s all about love and respect.

  9. It’s so tricky issue, Lea. I know what you mean.

    In fact, human relationship is so complicated to the matter that you can neither prevent yourself from judging nor continue on judging!

    I simply mean judging people’s intention is not our business because you can’t open someone’s heart/brain to see through.

    What is good, however, is to deal with their actions/words and balance them according to our needs; for example I think dealing with unfair marriage/relationship – on any level – has nothing to do with badly judging people; it’s rather are we living a healthy relation or not?

    So it’s all about love and respect.

  10. I totally agree with you, Lea.

    Anyway I’m sharing my perspectives since I’m in the ocean so have nothing to do but swimming 🙂

    Keep well 🙂

  11. I totally agree with you, Lea.

    Anyway I’m sharing my perspectives since I’m in the ocean so have nothing to do but swimming 🙂

    Keep well 🙂


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