With so much swirl and churn around us right now, discernment seems like a lofty goal. Something to aspire to, something we know to be important, and also something that eludes us when we need it most. How do we keep a vigilant and discerning eye towards our relationships, our careers, our habits, our emotions, our boundaries when everything seems to shift, week after week after week? Is it even possible to stay the discernment course when so much asks us to forsake it in favor of the quick fix, the ready answer, or the smooth distraction? That slick charlatan designed to make us “feel” better in the moment, who ends up stealing our money and self-respect while leaving us destitute by the side of the road, with nary a glance backward.
The key to cultivating discernment in all things is a spirit of discovery and a willingness to be curious rather than judgmental. To ask ourselves repeatedly, what is there to learn from the situation or the person in front of me? What is there to see? What am I missing (or flat-out ignoring) that I must see in order for deeper self-awareness and true growth to occur?
I marvel at how the dismantling of life as usual has opened up space within myself to be more discerning. To consider why I do the things I do, and if I want to continue doing them. To see what’s really there. In terms of the people in my life, I defer to the incomparable Maya Angelou on this one:
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. People know themselves much better than you do. That’s why it’s important to stop expecting them to be something other than who they are.”
It’s been a brutal interior dialogue. I’m predisposed to judge myself swiftly and harshly, to not extend kindness towards myself, even though I commonly overextend kindness to people who show me, in the end, that they don’t merit it or even want it.
It’s hard to admit when things turn sideways, because many of us expect ourselves to see it all through once a commitment is made, in spite of sideways-ness. When commitments start demanding unreasonable amounts of us, do not respect or even care about our personal boundaries, and that we feel less and less sure about, we often (willingly) sacrifice our time, energy, health, and peace of mind in the hopes that the…