NYC Psychotherapist Blog

power by WikipediaMindmap

Friday, November 24, 2017

Don't Be Judgmental. Be Discerning

Many people confuse being discerning with being judgmental, so I'm addressing this issue in this article and why it's important to be discerning (see my article: Listening to Your Inner Voice).

Don't Be Judgmental.  Be Discerning

What's the Difference Between Being Judgmental and Being Discerning?
Being judgmental is being critical, disapproving and negative.

Being discerning is being aware, astute and perceptive.

Fictionalized Vignette: The Difference Between Being Judgmental and Discerning:

Sally came to her therapy session feeling disappointed in herself.

She told her therapist that she found herself in yet another situation where she wasn't discerning.

In the past, Sally and her psychotherapist had spoken about how Sally got into trouble many times in her life due to her lack of discernment.

Sally explained that she was with her friend, Rita, when they came across a man who was panhandling for money on the street.

Whenever they came across people who were homeless or panhandling, Rita would make disparaging remarks about them, which irritated Sally.

Sally felt that Rita was too judgmental and tended to look down on people.

Since she felt so annoyed by Rita's judgmental comments, Sally reached into her pocket and gave the man a dollar.  Then, he thanked Sally and struck up a conversation with her.

At that point, Rita was so disgusted that she kept going and told Sally that she would see her another time.

Sally felt embarrassed by Rita's behavior, and she tried to be "extra nice" to the man, who introduced himself as Ted.

Ted told Sally that he was down on his luck.  He had just lost his job and would soon lose his apartment if he didn't get a job soon.

He told her that his aunt gave him a $100 bill to tide him over, but none of the coffee shops would break the bill, so he wondered if Sally could give him change so he could get something to eat.

Sally experienced a moment of hesitation, but she didn't listen to her gut feeling that told her not to do it, and she gave Ted change for the $100 bill.

Later that day, when she went to the grocery store and tried to use the $100 bill, the cashier held the bill up to the light and told Sally that it was a counterfeit bill.

Sally was shocked.  She had to leave her grocery with the cashier because she had no other money.

When she went to the bank, the teller verified that the $100 bill was counterfeit and asked her where she got it.  When Sally told the teller about giving change to the man on the street, the teller told her, "You've been scammed."

As Sally talked about what happened with her therapist, she acknowledged that she had a moment of hesitation when Ted asked her for change.  There was a part of her that was suspicious, but she didn't listen to that voice inside her.

Don't Be Judgmental.  Be Discerning

Sally told her therapist that she was trying so hard not to be judgmental, like Rita, that she didn't listen to her gut feeling, "I was just trying to be nice."

Sally and her therapist talked about the issues in her childhood that caused her to doubt herself and how this was connected to her not listening to her gut feeling, her lack of discernment and her pattern of people pleasing (see my article: Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families and People Pleasing).

People often confuse being discerning with being judgmental but, in fact, they're two very different things.

When you're judgmental, like Rita in the fictionalized scenario above, you're disapproving, negative and critical.

Being judgmental is the opposite of being discerning.

When you're discerning, you use good judgment, you're aware, objective, perceptive and astute.

When you're trying so hard not be to judgmental that you're also not being discerning, it can have very negative consequences for you and your loved ones.

Getting Help in Therapy
It's not usual for people, who lack discernment, to have a family history where they were made to doubt their own objectivity.  As a result, they don't trust their gut feelings and this can result in a lack of discernment.

For other people, it's a particular blind spot in their life.  They want to be "nice," and this clouds their objectivity.

For people who grew up in a critical environment, they're often critical and judgmental of themselves and others.  Their negativity and harshness creates problems in their personal and professional life.

If you tend to find yourself in situations where you realize after the fact that you weren't discerning or in situations where you're too judgmental, you could benefit from working with a licensed mental health professional who can help you to overcome these problems (see my article: The Benefits of Psychotherapy and How to Choose a Psychotherapist.

Rather than continuing to suffer the consequences on your own, you could get help from a skilled psychotherapist so you can go on to lead a more rewarding life.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

I have helped many clients to overcome problems with lack of discernment and being overly critical and judgmental.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

No comments: