I was informed in middle school that my middle name, Deborah, was the name of a well-known Judge or Prophet in history. It didn’t take long for me to connect why this name was appropriate for me at that time. I was harder on myself than I was on anyone else, and I had a tendency to judge others when they were doing things in a way I deemed unacceptable.
Like most people, I learned this habit of judging myself and others from society and from the people closest to me. Both of my parents led with great hearts and minds and they were over-achievers with perfectionistic tendencies who cared too much about what others thought of them or our family.
We often become what is modelled for us. I learned to minimize what bothered me and expect way too much of myself. This combination was a perfect storm. Instead of observing my innermost thoughts or inexperienced actions with compassion towards myself, I criticized myself from every angle and this led to very low self-esteem, depression, insecurity, and self-doubt.
I was first introduced to the concept of discernment when I entered addiction recovery in 1999. I was 31 years old at that time and the years of self-criticism, self-abandonment and unreasonable expectations now wore me down to a very unhealthy weight and multiple life threatening addictions.
My 12 step sponsor Maxine educated me.”The difference between judgment and discernment”, she said, “is one of Ego versus Higher Power. Discernment is a wisdom that comes through you as a result of experience and a connection to your Higher Self. With discernment, it is perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual guidance or understanding”.
This distinction was shared with me almost 24 years ago and has served me well since. It comes to me in moments when an important decision needs to be made and I wish to make that decision with spiritual guidance versus chronic fear. Fears that include what someone else will think, fear of abandonment, fear of financial loss, fear of confrontation and more.
Discernment is a superpower that allows me to bypass the laundry list of fears and access an infinite supply of wisdom, intelligence and love within me that leads to positive and generous outcomes for the greater good.
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