Today my horoscope hints at the disaster that will befall me if I do not attend to “every detail” to get it all “exactly right.” Uh-oh. To a recovering perfectionist, these words sound like bells ringing, signaling certain doom. I shrug off the horoscope with a little laugh.
And yet, something about the horoscope rings true. Lately I’ve been straddling that tricky line between perfectionism and utter carelessness, and have come face to face with the need for…drum roll…”discernment.”
We know the definition of discernment concerns making judgments about certain things or events or situations. We consider certain qualities about that “thing/event/situation.” We look beyond the superficial, take it all in, give it some thought, and then make an informed decision about how we will respond.
Just do it?
Why is this important? Why do we need to think so much? There are those who advise us, get out of our heads! “Just do it!”
And I agree, there’s not much discernment required to get up in the morning, feed the dog, empty the dishwasher, take a shower, eat a healthy breakfast and get ourselves to wherever we need to be.
But I’m talking about some of the bigger stuff, the times we find ourselves surprised that a budding friendship fizzled out, the potential promotion slipped away, an invitation was declined. Sometimes it’s even more serious…we’re surprised at the layoff, we’re stunned with a serious illness diagnosis, or we can’t believe the credit card balance on the bill that arrived. We just didn’t see it coming.
Discerning, not judgmental
This is where discernment comes in, I think. If we find ourselves “surprised” in these ways on a regular basis, it might be time to develop some discernment skills.
For starters, we need to differentiate between judging someone as a human being versus assessing objectively what they have to offer as it concerns us. For example, we might really like a co-worker as a person. But if we objectively assess what that person is contributing to the team, we might be able to see that his work product isn’t what it needs to be. So maybe it’s not a complete shock when our co-worker’s employment ends.
It works both ways. We need to totally accept and love ourselves, of course. But we might be able to see, to discern, that our longed-for promotion isn’t going to happen. And to accept that it probably wouldn’t make good use of our skills and experiences…and that we’re actually OK with that.
Listening to our inner voice
Second, I know of no more effective way to nurture discernment in ourselves than to take time to meditate, reflect, and tune into our inner selves. It’s there we can settle down enough to hear what our inner voice needs to tell us.
It’s trying to warn us … to steer clear of that shaky investment, or stay home this weekend rather than go shopping, or have that chronic cough checked out. It’s telling us to make sure we get that report in on time, to double check that we paid the insurance premium, to decline the invitation. Maybe, it tells us, we should go to bed early tonight, have that difficult conversation, or sign up for automatic savings deposits.
Discernment, wisdom, compassion
Will there be times we truly are surprised, and realize we made some poor assumptions? Of course. We’re human beings. Hopefully, however, as we practice discernment, our intuition grows, and with it both our wisdom and compassion.
How about you? How’s your discernment practice working for you?