The Battery Was Dead! The Difference Between Judgment & Discernment
We got in the car to head home, only to find that the battery was dead! I noticed my initial thought, “Oh no! This is bad!” Then I switched my focus and told myself it wasn’t a big deal. We soon found someone to help us jump the battery and we were on our way.
This is a recent example of my internal Judge at work. In my Positive Intelligence training, I’ve been learning how we all pass judgment on ourselves, others, and situations. Judging is a normal survival instinct, yet these kinds of thoughts bring us down and hold us back. So what can we do?
The last three steps in my “Immunity to Negativity Formula” are Pause, Notice, Choose. The idea is to get better at noticing when our Judge is at work and to choose a different thought. Yet isn’t that judging our thoughts?
This is where the difference between discernment and judging comes into play. One way to think about the difference is that judging brings on negative thoughts and emotions. On the other hand, discernment acknowledges the situation without labeling something, someone, or ourselves as bad. Instead, we can use empathy or curiosity to decide how to respond. We can also look for what we can learn; about ourselves, about others, about what we’d do differently in the future. The result is a more neutral or even positive feeling.
For example, my judge told me that the dead battery was a bad situation, which made me feel frustrated. But when I paused and noticed my reaction, I could acknowledge my survival instinct at work without labeling it or the dead battery as “bad.” Then I could choose to realize it was easily fixable and remain calm.
As you practice pausing, noticing, and choosing this week, remember it’s not about judging your thoughts as bad. Instead, shift to discernment and acknowledge your judge when you hear it in your head. Then, instead of letting it control you, choose a response that comes from kindness, empathy, or curiosity.