Do you find that you have an opinion for everything?
Do you keep it to yourself or share it openly? Does sharing it find you at odds with others? Not getting invited out with family or friends?
Having an opinion is not a bad thing when it is based in discernment.
When our perspectives are based in discernment we are sharing our unique thoughts, ideas and preferences with the world. This leads to deeper understanding, creativity, growth, diversity, and a more interesting world.
However when opinions are based in judgment they take on an essence that things are either black or white, no in between. You’ll hear “right and wrong” viewpoints. This type of thinking gives voice to judgments.
What’s the difference between discernment and judgment?
I love this distinction by Aleka Thorvalson:
“Discernment is an inner knowing sourced in genuine truth, while judgment is sourced in fear. Discernment is a spark of intuitive knowing, an inner voice of principle and certainty that aligns us with our path, purpose, and inspiration. Judgment is about control and uses fear and manipulation as a means to gain it.”
Judgment also comes up from a place of insecurity. When we judge others we are trying to make ourselves feels better about ourselves, our life, and circumstances. When you judge you call out something you think is a negative or flaw in someone else. This is an attempt to elevate yourself and diminish another. It becomes a personal attack grounded in criticism.
For example, if a coworker comes to the office with a bold-colored outfit, discernment allows observation, getting in touch with your preferences and forming an opinion. You notice a thought which alerts you that it isn’t your taste or preference. That is fine.
However, when you take it a step further and make a negative or critical comment to the person or another, you are judging. Judgment sounds like, “How could she wear that? She has such poor taste. She looks ridiculous.” It’s a reaction to something that is different.
Instead of opening your mind to a new possibility it becomes a personal attack riddled with mocking, shaming, and embarrassing someone different than you. If you can go deeper and look at what’s beneath the thought, it may be admitting to yourself you wish you were bold enough to wear that outfit yourself!
You can authentically share your opinion so it comes from a place of discernment by…
- Allowing your viewpoint to come from a place within your authentic and honest self.
- Pausing before responding to understand how the situation might be triggering a reaction in you.
- Recognizing that there are shades of grey and there doesn’t have to be a winner and a loser.
- Being open to another’s perspectives and listening even if there is disagreement.
- Respecting another’s right to self-expression.
- Accepting the value of learning from one another’s perspectives to grow in wisdom.
So the next time a judgmental thought surfaces, remember that discernment is willingly thoughtful and open as opposed to judgement which is closed off and anchored in mocking and criticism.
Our differences are what make us unique gifts in this world. Let’s embrace our differences and be open to seeing the world with an open heart!