Only You Are Responsible For Your Own Wellbeing, Part 3
- by Bryan Brubaker, Think Twice Educator What the heck is discernment anyways?!?
I like to use the original 1828 Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language because saying that makes me sound smart. But also because it provides very in depth definitions. So Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828 defines Discernment as: The power or faculty of the mind, by which it distinguishes one thing form another, as truth from falsehood, virtue from vice. Acuteness of judgement. Power of perceiving differences of things or ideas, and their realties and tendencies. “The errors of youth often proceed from the want of discernment.”
Miriam-webster.com says it is “The quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure.”
I really like both of those. I like the .com version with comprehending what is obscure – like being able to see things people are trying to hide. I like “the power of perceiving differences of things or ideas, and their realities and tendencies.” This means that despite what I might feel about something, I can still see the reality of the situation or idea – I can see past my feelings to the truth of the matter, distinguishing truth from falsehood.
Discernment may be one of the best tools or skills you can develop to help you navigate through relationships and life in general. Remember in pt1 where we talked about how other people aren’t obligated to look out for you? And how people can be manipulative and downright deceitful in relationships as they are trying to get what they think they want? And how painful it can be operating without discernment? And remember in pt2 we talked about the rules of the games we play in the larger game of life? And how “giving him a ride home” might be a bad idea in the game “Untrustworthy Skeezbag”? When you see that a situation has the potential to be dangerous to you, that is using discernment. You can develop this by playing through various scenarios of a given situation. You can play them through in your head before you respond or take action. So referring back to the game “Untrustworthy Skeezbag”, what are some possibilities of giving him a ride? He could make unwanted advances on you while you are stuck in your car with him. He could rob you. He could rape you. He could rob you and rape you, tie you up and stuff you in the trunk of your own car before driving you off to your horrific new occupation of sex-trafficked minor. Or he could be a nice guy. There could be a whole lot riding on the choice you make. Discernment gives you the opportunity to assess risk and avoid unnecessary and unhealthy risks.
But it’s not just in physical interactions. Media – advertising in particular – is littered with distraction, misinformation, and outright lies, regarding products, policies and opinions – all designed to get you thinking a certain way (This product is good) and going a certain direction (I will go buy it) regardless of what your original intentions and desires were. There is a Latin phrase, “Cui Bono,” and it means “Who Benefits?” It’s another question you can ask yourself about a given situation, direction, course of action or relationship you are trying to analyze. Who benefits if I do_______? Who benefits if I do something different? If you are trying to have healthy relationships, and to operate with a higher sense of fairness, then all parties should benefit relatively equally, or provision should be made to make up the difference the next time around, without having any boundaries violated. So to return to the “Untrustworthy Skeezbag” game one more time, maybe some wise options are getting a few friends to ride along with you, or asking your parents if they can give him a ride, or calling and paying for an Uber for him. Which of these options do you think shows the most discernment?