Discernment: Intuition, Impression or Imagination?

Updated: Jul 11, 2019

When I was very little, I had what others might call an “imaginary friend”. His name was Kenny. He had dark hair, blue eyes and fair skin like me, but no freckles. He was a talker. I distinctly remember during my infancy, sitting on the floor in the hallway, chatting with him.

My beautiful big sister and me, with the family dog

Fast-forward to me as a fourteen-year-old, when I discovered, during research for a high school assignment, that there was a stillborn brother I never knew about. He was brought into this world on 25th February 1965, without drawing a breath. My mother was very impressed with John F Kennedy at the time, and so my brother was named after him. In her heart, Mum called him Kenny.

As a young adult, I’d have “vibes” about things and places and people, and one of my dear friends would say “But how do you KNOW?”, to which I’d reply, “I just do”. Not helpful!!! The older I got, the more I held back on what my intuition told me because when it was romantic, I got little-to-no validation. Everything else though, I acted on. Maybe I should have asked that man out ….?

What’s the worst that could have happened if I asked someone out? Well, complete humiliation! But, let’s face it, I wouldn’t be defying death if I gave it a go. I had grown up scared of being embarrassed – like practically everyone else on earth.

So, what I needed, was courage.

We all need to learn discernment. This is not something that comes naturally to everyone. Discernment can be about being able to distinguish between God, other spirits, and other people; or about distinguishing between intuition, impression and imagination;or simply, about what is real, what is surreal, and what is unreal. In my life as a mental health researcher, this became extremely important, because many of my participants experienced psychotic symptoms.

To learn discernment, we need a wide range of experiences in order to learn our life’s lessons. We need to listen to others and take in the ways in which they express themselves, so that when we talk with them, we have a common language and understanding. We need to learn to see a situation from another person’s perspective. We should remember that just because we feel that an impression is right because we trust it’s origin, that this doesn’t mean that we understand it. Experience helps us to develop discernment.

In my workshops, I use a beautiful image by Amy Zerner. When you look at the card from different sides, you see different stories in the card. The reason I use this particular card is - just because one person is “right” doesn’t mean everyone else is “wrong”.

For it all to work though, we need real-live, face-to-face validation. For example, if I make a claim in writing that “I have a gift”, imagine how many ways it can be misconstrued! Whereas, if I’m having a conversation, face-to-face, and I exclaim that “I have a gift”, you’ll see the context, you’ll hear the tone and emphasis in my voice, and you’ll feel how I feel. You’ll get my drift! Not only that, you’ll be able to clarify and get into the conversation more deeply because you’re right there with me. Imagine; the gift I have is a parcel that I want to give to you!

So, what happens with validation?

Let’s say you have an acquaintance who contacts you, because they have a feeling about you, and they say “I was watching TV, and a thought came to me about you. So that I understand the context, and so I can see if it fits with you, can we please meet for a cuppa or a walk?”

You meet, and he says, that when he was watching TV, an image of you popped into his mind, together with some strange words. He goes on to say, “I realised that I don’t know you and don’t understand why I got these things together. Can you shed any light on it?”

You could start the conversation. Without either party feeling judged or getting upset. So, the fourth thing (after discernment, experience and validation) is humility. We all need to know that we’re not right 100% of the time! We need to be brave to discover (or uncover) the truth. We need to be willing to look a fool by trusting that we’ll be safe. And we need to be kind and gentle when having the conversation.

So, let’s get back to that handsome gentleman who took my fancy all those years ago (because I know you want a happy end to that story!). Sadly, the conversation went the wrong way in those moments after we first met, and other things went a bit awry after that too. There were times when I felt invisible, and he’d be right there next to me at a function. My friends would say that “he must be gay!” (not to like me). Who knows?

So, how does this fit with what I do in The Centre of Serendipity? Well, I help my workshop participants to practise discernment through shared experiences and facilitated conversations around serious topics like change, leadership, respect, empowerment, integrity, and safety. My workshops are designed to allow people to lead by example, and organisations to grow ethically and in positivity.

When you start from that place of humility, understanding that others could be right while having different views to your own, you develop a strong sense of togetherness and direction.
A strong sense of togetherness over Halloween chocolate!

And the same can be said for my book, which was submitted for international publication this week. If you like the way I write a blog, then you'll love the book. I'm really excited about it's release (hopefully in May 2019). To follow, please go to: https://www.thecentreofserendipity.com/self-transformation

Thanks, as always, for coming along on my adventure!

One last thing: If you're interested in that beautiful image and book I mentioned earlier, here are the copyright information and links to buy your own copy:

(c) Monte Farber and Amy Zerner - THE ENCHANTED TAROT (worldwide):


and in Australia:


The Centre of Serendipity (c) 2020


The Centre Of Serendipity

The Centre of Serendipity fosters wellbeing and empowers transformation through Challenges, Meditations and the best self-help Books ever -

especially the best self help books for men, for women, for young people, and students!! 

©2018 Mary-Claire Hanlon - The Centre Of Serendipity

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