There is a difference between discernment and judgment; subtle, but important. Discernment allows us to see, feel or know the things that are in our “highest good” and those which are not. Using discernment, we can avoid experiences, relationships and conditions that are not in our best interest. We can decide which jobs, activities and situations to engage in and, generally speaking, have pleasant experiences when we use our gift of discernment well. Judgment, on the other hand, keeps us separated from others and from Source. Judgment is always directed at people or groups of people. Though we may believe it is about others, it is actually about ourselves. Judgment is the ego’s way of feeling safe by protecting our hearts, beliefs and perceptions, even when the judgment is against ourselves. Because it stems from our personal, often wounded, aspect, judgment can be detrimental to both our individual and spiritual growth and happiness in life.
Why are we attached to judgment?
The word judgment can feel like a loaded word, and rightly so, because judgment can weigh us down if we have emotional attachments to whatever judgments have been made by ourselves or by others. One day our words may have less duality and charge in them. For now, however, there are very few words (especially words associated with spirituality) that reflect neutral experiences and expressions of life, much less words that are free from connotations. Thus, judgment as a word and as a verb express this duality in our language and our world.
We use our judgments to make choices, and if we experience desired results, we conclude we made the "right" decision and likely feel good. Conversely, if our results are not what we expected or wanted, we usually assume we made the "wrong" choice and negative feelings can consume us.
If we choose, we can learn to perceive all choices as neutral. Conscious or not, we make choices at each moment in our lives (even if we don't choose anything at all) and we experience the consequences of our decisions. Most of what we experience in our instantaneous and on-going cylce of judgment-choice is actually quite neutral, leaving us with little or no feelings regarding it, and the pattern goes unnoticed.
You can brush your teeth before your shower, during or after it. You can wear the comfortably worn outfit or the newer, crisper one. You can pet your dog before your cat notices, or put your dog outside and spend a few minutes caressing your cat.
Choices like which handrail we hold when we go down the stairs usually don't have a great impact in our lives. Yet, when we encounter what we think is an "important" decision, we assume there is a "right" or "wrong" way to proceed. We make a judgment, a choice, and hope we picked the correct option. And, because we have a vested interest, we probably have an emotional attachment to the outcome.
If our results are favorable, we experience good feelings and continue down our paths with gratitude. If, however, unpleasantries result, we can find ourselves feeling bad about our choice and bad about ourselves. Sure, we may wonder and worry about others judging us too, but it's our self-judgment that affects us most.
What if we simply saw everything we did through the eyes of neutrality? What if we plainly remarked, "Interesting," with no judgmental thoughts or opinions about the choice, the end result, or ourselves? This does not imply this is a more "noble" or "correct" way of perceiving, merely a "what if?"
If we began to make our choices without the hooks of "right" or "wrong" embedded in them, then the experience each choice leads to could be just that... an experience. Maybe even an interesting one.