Discernment: “the ability to see and understand people, things, or stituations clearly and intelligently” –Merriam-Webster
Discernment is a key tool when practicing courage. It’s the razor’s edge between the kind of crazy that pulls a few all-nighters to proudly meet a launch deadline…and pulling all-nighters until you run yourself into the ground.
It’s the kiss of space between needing to push yourself for just a bit more compassion in the face of someone’s bad behavior…and being a pushover.
It’s knowing the difference between having some debt and making an investment…and having some debt and rationalizing creating more debt because instant gratification is leading the way.
In every decision we make, every response, there are polarizing extremes, and then there’s the murky middle. That’s where discernment is key.
Want to trust yourself, more? Want to have more capacity for taking risks? Feeling shaky when you make decisions?
You need yourself a dose of discernment.
Here’s the kinda-sorta bad news: you learn discernment by completely fucking up discernment.
Translation? You gotta get in there and sleep with the wrong guy, spend more than you have, quit the job and spend your savings and take the job back.
In other words, discernment is learned through making mistakes. Royally. That’s how you start to pick up on the cues that tell you THIS GUY IS A LIFETIME MOVIE WAITING TO HAPPEN versus THIS GUY WOULD BE AWESOME TO HAVE A FLING WITH–NO HARM, NO FOUL.
This means, by the way, that there’s no need to ever be intimidated by anyone you perceive to be good at making decisions. If they are good at making decisions, if they generally trust themselves, if they are more or less grounded in who they are? Well, then. They have screwed up in life, a lot! They are imperfect, just like you and me! They learned from it. Huzzah!
Your Next Brilliant Move
No one can give you the 1-2-3 steps for learning discernment, absolutely–we’re all too individual. For one person, it’s HELLO OBVIOUS that you don’t spend money you don’t have when you also have debt, but those same people might have trouble not giving time that they don’t have, to every person who asks.
But people can help you with this: deciding how you’ll treat yourself in reaction to discernment thrown wildly off-kilter.
Do you stop taking action? Do you tell yourself awful, critical things?
In the Courageous Living Program, I’m not teaching anyone “how to live.” I’m really teaching you a skill-set for discernment. I want people to learn to trust themselves by doing (so the program pushes taking action like it’s a street drug, for reals). I want people to reframe their past mistakes (so we get into the “Stories” you tell yourself that limit your life, and working with the inner critic voices that get so loud when mistakes happen).
The courage of discernment is that when your compass isn’t so finely pointed, and you miss the mark, you decide that the response is not to hide out or beat yourself up.
The response is to get back in there, so that you can learn more of the nuances. You become a better picker and chooser–of people, of circumstances, of telling your true yes and your true no.
If you want to learn discernment, your next brilliant move is to make any move at all and decide that you won’t berate yourself for the outcome. Instead, you’ll pay attention. You’ll get clear, so that you can figure out what your barometer of discernment is trying to tell you.
The fear is there–you might need to fuck up discernment a few more times–but the courage is in the paying attention.