The Difference Between Judgment and Discernment

Throughout our life journeys we are encouraged not to judge. Judging creates division, dampens our ability to love, and erodes our connection to those around us and the Universe at large. However, living in a world of non-judgment does not mean that we should ignore the inner voice that guides us and steers us away from certain people and situations. This is known as discernment.

Discernment is listening to our gut instincts and the genuine truth in our hearts. It leads us to our true path of purpose and creates inspiration based on our principles and values. Differentiating between judgment and discernment helps us realize which we are experiencing so we can decide to move forward with our inner thoughts or ease them in favor of non judgmental acceptance.

Judgment Creates Tension

When we experience judgment, we feel it as a negative force in our bodies. Our muscles tense, we may have an uneasy or even sick feeling in our stomachs, and it can linger on as an overall heavy burden. Discernment, on the other hand, feels lighter and usually imparts a sense of shedding a weight or following a light. Discernment leads us to a better situation or connection rather than lingering with us and negatively impacting our daily lives.

Judgment is Based on Comparison

Judgment usually stems from our desire to feel better about ourselves and often involves comparison. Judging others to be “not as good as us” might feel good at the time, but it will always have a negative effect on our self-esteem in the long run. Discernment is not based on comparison but instead on experience and wisdom. Our self-esteem is not tied to the thoughts and decisions that stem from discernment. Instead, a more kind and loving path often emerges and we end up genuinely feeling better about ourselves and about those around us.

Judgment Divides

Judgment is based on fear and always has a divisive result. When we judge, we create an ‘us vs them’ situation and one group or person always loses. Discernment is a sharing force and allows us to value others’ thoughts and opinions. Though we may not agree with what others are saying, through discernment we can still listen with an open heart and accept others for who they are – which is connective. Furthermore, when we feel confident in who we are, we can use discernment to broaden our horizons and bring new people and experiences into our loving circle.

Judgment is Reactive

Judgment is a reaction to an emotional or mental attack, whether it is real or imagined. This reactivity again goes back to fear and recreates old wounds, making it more and more difficult to move forward in a healthy manner. Discernment is responsive, opening doors to new interactions, connections, and possibilities. While judgment looks at everything and everyone with a cynical and suspicious eye, discernment questions and learns with the goal of growth. 


We must have a guidepost in our lives to move forward based on our values and what is truly important to us. However, when our navigation system is based on fear and protecting our self-image, it manifests as judgment. When we instead love and accept ourselves and others, we can base our guidepost on discernment and add compassion and kindness to a world that desperately needs it.

By |December 4th, 2018|Comments Off on The Difference Between Judgment and Discernment