Transforming criticism to discernment
Establishing principles of so called ‘right and wrong’ is an essential part of our survival kit when we are growing up. It’s part of the boundary setting that helps to keep us safe both physically and, if done well, morally, emotionally and psychologically. There comes a time though in our maturing process, when we start to be presented with options and choices that rely more on our ability to navigate a less black and white relationship with the world.
We start to realise that absolutes like right, wrong, good, bad may have other ideas and notions that we need to bring in alongside. Context, perspective and a less self-centred relationship, more inquiring relationship with the world hopefully help us to see that there are many factors that determine people’s choices, behaviours and attitudes. We also hopefully, start to see that jumping to criticism of other’s choices and behaviours risks keeping us in the polarised world of rights and wrongs.
And yet, in travelling this road we hopefully also recognise that it isn’t simply about throwing our ability to assess and consider situations out of the window to occupy a completely indiscriminate space. In fact, what we are hopefully all seeking to do is to elevate our assessment up several levels to healthy discernment.
Moving to the space of discernment requires us to surrender ourselves to a higher connection with life. To find our way to seeing the many aspects of a given situation. To be able to open our hearts and connect with love and compassion to individuals, to circumstances and to outcomes. Instead of rules and fixed boundaries we find ourselves asking questions, embracing the kaleidoscope of life and navigating this using our knowing.
It is a knowing that acts like a compass rather than a rule book. A knowing that helps us to rise and fall with the hills and valleys of the terrain without making too many value judgements about either being good or bad. We start seeing things more as they are and moving to a place of acceptance. Discernment of course requires that we recognise the fundamentals of good and evil and that we use our faculty of discrimination. Seeing the difference between an unequivocal intent to do harm without any mitigation and the more complex world where polarised ideas and values serve as a catalyst for a higher order understanding – if we choose to inquire and seek understanding.
The ability to balance seeming opposites, the willingness to trust in a deeper or higher sense of ‘right order’ for our world plus accessing our own inner compass or knowing – these ingredients will help us move from a place of criticism of those things we don’t like or understand in ourselves and others, to a place of discernment where we are adding to a higher expression of the world we are creating.