word of the day: discern

There seems to be a lot of “not knowing” going around, which is only a problem if people believe it is. You may feel flooded with options, spun around in circles or flung from pole to pole and back again. It’s not just you: We are at a critical juncture in the forward march we call human evolution. Quite simply, the species is moving beyond the Age of Reason. If you seek to be whole now, become accustomed to inviting your mind and your heart, your logic and your intuition, to the equation. As the Sufi proverb suggests: Pray to Allah – but first, tether your camel. When you feel that calculating and strategizing, figuring it out, creating a what-if spreadsheet in your mind, or other purely mental gyrations just aren’t cutting it any more…

…and magical thinking alone isn’t doing the trick, either – it’s time to learn to discern.


Practice conscious intolerance. Decide which people you want to spend time with, what relationship you want to invest in. Know the difference between truth and hollow flattery. Respond accordingly. Determine whether, this time, the out-and-out truth is what truly serves. Ponder whether you’re being guided or led astray. You decide. Take an extra moment. Make them wait. What does your gut tell you? What does your heart tell you? Trust your inner ability to know what’s right for you and what isn’t. Learn the difference between the ways that fear and exhiliration move through your body. The surge you feel when you run away from danger is not all that different from the surge you feel when you’re getting ready to reach the top of a mountain, birth a baby, win a race, celebrate an inner victory. Learn the difference. If it isn’t YES!, it’s probably no.

Excerpted from Words of Wisdom for Women, available as a Barnes & Noble bargain book via the right-hand sidebar — and also in its original incarnation, 365 Words of Well-Being for Women (McGraw-Hill/Contemporary), available here at amazon and other places, too.

8 thoughts

  1. Malcolm,

    Wasn’t it in the first Matrix movie that Neo asked why his eyes hurt so much — and Morpheus responded, “Because you’ve never used them before,” or something similar? (-:


  2. I don’t think for a moment, Jung was placing dreams on a par with chopped liver, more that there was more. I guess people don’t think of looking within since their eyes are pointed out and that’s the extent of how they think they see.



  3. Malcolm,

    So, since Jung was such a devotee of the dream state, can we presume he’s suggesting we need both — time to dream and then, time to bring that dream to fruition/manifestation through awakening? It’s amazing that the idea of finding everything within is still so elusive to so many — even though it has been the basis of so many different spiritual teachings. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, as always. Your “sword” energy shows up all the time for me, i.e., in the next post after this one!


  4. One cannot discern while looking without. There are no answers there. They are within. I like the way you put this. As I read, I thought of a favourite Carl Jung statement: “Your vision will become clear when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” One cannot discern while asleep. I feel enriched reading your post and now have an eye open.



  5. We just made a major decision based upon – if it isn’t YES, it’s probably no. The decision was completely made on a gut level and the decisioneer was none other than my wise husband, taking his intuitive abilities out for a little exercise. I’m so proud of him!


  6. Outdoors2,

    Agreed. “Maybe” can be a placeholder for a bit, or it can grab us by the leg and keep us planted in the glue. It takes loads of practice for most of us to get to the point where a succinct “Yes, please” or “No thank you” is easy to access. But, trust me, it’s worth it. Once the attic (as well as other cluttered rooms both physical and energetic) are cleared out, discernment can take up residence in the newly opened spaces.


  7. “If it isn’t YES!, it’s probably no.”
    I find trouble with the ultimate answer that each of these words provoke, Yes and No, I tend to like the word ‘maybe’ to much and it leads to to many cluttered areas in my life. Learning to ‘Discern’ the good and bad, The yes and nos’ will truly help me clear the attics I have packed with so many variables.
    Thanks Rachel…


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