The first counsel written over the gateway to the temple of Delphi, “Know Thyself” is an important element of good discernment. In my experience, there’s a direct correlation between the quality of discernment and how well we know ourselves. Having good discernment can help us see things with a clear eye and receive answers to questions like:
- What is the best decision for me to make in the moment?
- What is it I’m feeling – is it mine or someone else’s?
- Is this career path in my future?
- Is this person good for me?
- Are they telling me the truth?
People, places and things either resonate with us or they don’t. So how do we know which option is best when presented with a choice? How do we discern the highest and best for our self? How do we determine if something is real or not?
Discernment as defined in Merriam-Webster: the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure (not clearly seen).
How many times have we made decisions that we instinctively knew were wrong only to kick ourselves later? I can raise my hand to that one! What happened? Why do we do this? I’m sure there are lots of reasons. One time I was in denial, another time I was wanting to please my parents, and yet another time I thought I knew what was best for me – I was attached to the outcome. I therefore chose not to listen and consequently I couldn’t hear my own guidance. I was unable to discern the signals I needed to make a clear choice.
On the bright side, I stacked up experiences that showed me what discernment was and what it felt like. Kicking myself started to get costly, so I had to look back to see what was stopping me from acting on my discernment.
Why did I choose to go against my own discernment? Fear was my answer. Fear of reprisal, fear of not being loved, fear of making a mistake and/or doing something wrong. I didn’t trust myself either. I felt worthless and didn’t have self-love. Basically, negative beliefs and fears were challenging me. They were louder, drowning out any discernment I may have had.
Here’s a costly example.
I was preparing to relocate so I wanted to lighten my load a bit. I went to a nearby store to inquire about selling my stereo worth about three thousand dollars. Since I didn’t have a car, a salesman came to my apartment to view it. He told me, “Yes, the store would buy it from me.” He gave me his card and offered to drive it to the store for me. I agreed. He then asked if I wanted a receipt. I said “No, I trust you. I know where you work.”
Alarm bells went off really loud in my head! A memory even flashed before my eyes reminding me about the last time I said the words “I trust you” to someone. I ignored it all, I was paralyzed by my own fear. I didn’t hear from him and a couple of weeks went by, so I returned to the store. Turns out he had quit! My heart sank. I told the manager about the man and asked about my stereo. He told me he hadn’t received my stereo, nor did he know anything about it.
Was I really surprised?
I had clear discernment – something wasn’t right about this man and yet I fell flat-faced right into the fire only to get burned yet again! I literally watched myself give him the stereo, say “no” to a receipt and standing there, feeling stunned while watching him drive away. He was another rung on the ladder of lessons in discernment.
I manifested him and others like him in order to learn about myself. There was an unconscious fear getting exposed. With this fear uncovered and acknowledged, the next time the alarm bells go off in a situation like this – I’ll listen and act in my best interest!
This is usually the case when faced with a big decision that has a desired outcome. When we allow the opinions of others to influence us, our own discernment usually gets lost. Add family dynamics, career limitations, financial concerns, etc. into the mix and it’s more confusing, making it tough to discern what’s best. Even if we’re able to discern clearly in these circumstances, we may not be able to act accordingly.
The more unattached to an outcome, the better. However, removing ourselves from the outcome of a potentially life altering decision is difficult at best. Emotions and feelings also get in the way and prove to be a hinderance. Sometimes these feelings may not even be our own. It’s often difficult to discern our own feelings separate from the ones we have taken on from others.
Sometimes the best action is no action. In the example above, I could’ve stopped the whole deal by saying — “I’ll think about it.” At the time however I couldn’t stop myself. If somehow, I realized I had the power to say – “I need to think about this.” – I could have changed the outcome. Now, I try to be clear and grounded before making a decision, it’s easier to discern the energy of a situation in a relaxed state. I must give this time to myself. If I find I’m stuck, I remember the cost of not listening. Do I want to repeat another painful lesson? No, I really don’t.
As I mentioned earlier, taking a step back and getting myself grounded and into my heart, works. To help me ground, I’ll go for a walk in nature. Some people meditate and do breathing exercises. Once grounded, you can ask yourself what it is you need to know. Discernment can be as simple as knowing something doesn’t feel right, to big alarm bells. It can also feel expansive and positive. You may even find yourself saying “Ah ha! I can see what’s going on here.” It brings clarity, intelligence and understanding. Trust these inner knowings. Like I stated above, it’s easier to trust your feelings when you are unattached to an outcome and grounded.
When I understood I had deterrents that were more powerful than my own discernment, I knew things had to change or I would have a horrible life. When sharing with other people about my experience, I realized that most everyone had a similar story. This fact made it less personal and, when it happens again, easier to act on my behalf without fear. I learned I had to witness any fears and objections trying to take over my decision, and acknowledge them as being heard. They didn’t have to fight so hard to get my attention anymore, so I became free to act on my own discernment. I got my power back.
You must know yourself as the counsel states –be aware of your strengths and weaknesses, your wounds, behaviors and reactions, your feelings, negative beliefs, fears, values – in short – who you are. Total honesty and acceptance of yourself, without any judgment, is needed for better discernment. When there’s no judgment, it’s easier to access true intelligence from your heart and higher knowing.
Think of the last time you acted in opposition to your discernment and ask yourself:
- What fear was operating in the background?
- Was I trying to please someone else or avoid confrontation or reprisal?
- Any negative beliefs present that may have talked me out of following my discernment?
- Were the feelings I was feeling mine or someone else’s?
- Was I attached to the outcome?
- What were the consequences for not listening to myself?
- What measures can I take to ensure I follow through with my discernment next time?
I hope you enjoyed this post. It was challenging to write about discernment. I can only hope I did it justice! If you have any questions or comments, please share below!
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