True Guidance Versus False Guidance – The Skill of Discernment

by Anne Reith, Ph.D.
Bright red word TRUE standing upright in long row of gray words saying FALSE
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Bright red word TRUE standing upright in long row of gray words saying FALSE

What is discernment?

One of the most important but challenging aspects of developing your psychic and mediumship abilities is learning how to distinguish between (a) messages we should listen to and (b) messages we should ignore.

In the metaphysical field, this skill is often referred to as discernment. This is the skill of accurately differentiating between messages that are coming from Divine sources and messages that are not.

This skill is critically important. Without the ability to tell the difference between these two types of messages, the work of psychics and mediums won’t be effective.

What happens if we don’t use discernment?

To communicate with the Divine, we use the language of Spirit. I refer to this language as “the clairs” (e.g., clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience, claircognizance).

When using this Divine language, we need to learn discernment in order to avoid 2 types of errors:

  • ERROR #1 – Missing messages: This happens when we are actually receiving a message from Spirit, but we incorrectly assume that the message is really our own thoughts, daydreams, body sensations, etc. We ignore or discount them. Developing your intuitive abilities includes learning how to recognize messages that are coming from the Divine. Unless we can do this, we are missing opportunities to receive spiritual guidance, support, and connection.
  • ERROR #2 – Thinking something is a message when it isn’t: This happens when we think one of our thoughts, daydreams, body sensations, etc., is actually a Divine message, but it isn’t. When the information is proven to be wrong, then this can have consequences. At the very least, it can make the psychics and mediums “look bad.” However, it can potentially be detrimental or even dangerous. In addition to learning to recognize Divine messages, we also need to learn how to recognize when something is not coming from a spiritual source.

Why can discernment be tricky?

I think we can all agree that human beings have very active brains that are constantly thinking and processing information. We also are using our 5 senses to process innumerable bits of sensory information every day.

Here are a couple of examples of how we process information:

  • We humans are very visual creatures and are constantly taking in visual stimuli. However, we are also very good at creating visual images. For example, if I asked you to imagine a dog, it is likely that you would see a dog in your mind’s eye.
  • We also process auditory information. This can include external sounds, like the voices of those speaking to us. Additionally, many of us talk to ourselves silently in our heads. And just like visualization, we can imagine sounds. For example, if I asked you to imagine what a dog sounds like, it is likely you would imagine hearing a bark.

The reason that discernment can be tricky is that our angels, guides, and deceased loved ones also use our brains and our 5 senses to communicate with us.

As an example, let’s say that you were doing a mediumship reading in which your client mentions that they recently lost a dog that was very precious to them.

  • If you are clairvoyant, you might see a dog in your mind’s eye.
  • If you are clairaudient, you might hear a dog barking.

Given the person told you in advance that they had lost their dog, then how do you know if what you are seeing in your mind’s eye or hearing inside your head is coming from the Divine or is just your imagination?

This is where the skill of discernment is needed. You need a way to tell the difference between what is coming from you and what is coming from a spiritual source.

True guidance versus false guidance

Using the terms true guidance and false guidance is a simple way of differentiating between messages that are or aren’t coming from Divine sources.

In general terms, here are descriptions of true guidance and false guidance:

  • True guidance (AKA:  higher self, Spirit, Source, God): These messages are gentle and loving, and they always focus on serving, healing, and improving.  They never speaks about lack, competition, or fear.
  • False guidance (AKA:  lower self, ego): These messages are almost always based on fear, but they can also include things like anger, guilt, or manipulation. 

Characteristics of true guidance and false guidance

Distinguishing between true guidance and false guidance takes practice!  Each person needs to determine which cues or signs will help them figure out the source of the information that is being received.

When training others, I have found that the following table can be helpful when first learning how to distinguish between true and false guidance.  It provides some specific examples of how psychics and mediums can tell the difference.

Characteristics of True vs. False Guidance

Information sounds familiar & “right”Information sounds foreign or “wrong”
Makes you feel warm & protectedMakes you feel unsettled, uncomfortable, or cold
Has a gentle, positive voice (even when it is warning you)Has an abusive & demanding voice
Messages are consistentMessages are inconsistent
Speaks of love & lightMessages or images are dark or menacing
Only “advises” & believes that you have free-will & are here on Earth to make choicesTells you what to do, makes deals (if-then), or threatens you with negative consequences
Usually uses “you might” or “you could”Often uses “should,” “have to,” “ought to,” “must”
Often speaks in the second person (e.g., “you” or uses your first name)Often speaks in the first person (e.g., “I”)
Interested in win-win situationsBelieves in win-lose/competition
Is secure & loving in relationshipsFears abandonment, schemes, manipulates
Has a prosperity mentality & believes in abundanceBelieves you are lacking & incapable

Important information about the Characteristics of True vs. False Guidance table

When working with the Characteristics of True vs. False Guidance table above, please keep in mind the following:

  • The lists of characteristics provided in the TRUE GUIDANCE and FALSE GUIDANCE columns are far from exhaustive. What is included are some of the most typical ways in which psychics and mediums differentiate between true and false guidance. But it’s important to remain open to other possibilities and to not limit yourself to the characteristics listed above. Your guides may show you another technique that will work best for you. For example, here are two unique alternatives:
    • One of my students found that when she asked for confirmation regarding the source of a message, her right thumb would twitch if it was true guidance and her left thumb would twitch if it was false guidance.
    • Another student found that when she asked for confirmation, she would see mental flash cards that said “YES” if a message was coming from Divine sources and “NO” if it was false guidance.
  • All of the characteristics listed in the TRUE GUIDANCE column do not need to be present before you have confirmation that a message is coming from a Divine source.  Sometimes, a message will clearly match only one of the characteristics, but often it will match 2 or more.
  • However, if a message you receive matches even one of the characteristics in the FALSE GUIDANCE column, it’s important to pay attention. One characteristic may be enough!
  • With time and practice, you will begin to notice a pattern that works for you. Of course, there may be unique situations, but the majority of the time, how Spirit provides confirmation of TRUE GUIDANCE will be done in a consistent manner.
    • For example, when I’m doing a reading, I know I am receiving true guidance when the message is gentle, loving, and consistent.

How do you learn discernment?

Luckily, everyone can learn the skill of discernment. And yes, I mean everyone! But you have to be willing to educate yourself (which you are doing by reading the blog post) and then practice, practice, practice.

Learning the skill of discernment is similar to learning almost any skill. In the beginning, it is natural for you to make mistakes. This will include (a) missing messages that ARE coming from Divine sources and (b) assume something is coming from Spirit when it isn’t. This hit or miss, trial and error process is a normal part of the learning process.

Here are two analogies to help you understand:

  • If you are beginning to learn how to hit a tennis ball with a tennis racket, it’s very likely that the ball will be going in every direction EXCEPT the direction that you want it to go in. But with practice, you begin to learn (a) how to find the “sweet spot” in the center of the racket and (b) what angle to hold the racket in order to have control over which direction the ball goes. You have to practice and make a lot of mistakes before you become proficient.
  • Another analogy that my students appreciate is that of a radio. Although we can’t see them, there are radio waves moving through the space around us all the time. However, the only way we can hear a specific radio station is if we have a radio with a tuner. When you are using the clairs, it’s like YOU are the radio with a tuner. At first, you may tune into the wrong station or there might be static. But with practice, you will learn how to tune into the right Divine frequency, and the message will be clear and free from interference.

The best environment for learning the skill of discernment

When learning the skill of discernment, I believe it is very helpful to be in a classroom environment with a good teacher. Yes, you can also work 1-on-1 with a spiritual coach, but a classroom is ideal because you have fellow students to practice with. And in a classroom, everyone understands that mistakes will be made.

Continuing with the tennis analogy: You can read about how to play tennis. You will learn about the rules of the game, read descriptions about how to hold the racket, and learn about famous tennis players. However, you won’t really learn how to play tennis until you pick up a tennis racket and actually start to hit the ball. And yes, you can hit the ball against a wall by yourself, but it’s much more effective if you can practice with a partner. It also helps immensely to have a good teacher or coach!

Here are some qualities to look for in an intuitive development teacher/coach:

  • Creates a safe, non-judgmental environment.
  • Acknowledges that mistakes are expected and even encouraged, because the teacher knows that this is what it will take for you to find your “sweet spot.”
  • Educates you about how to do intuitive work but also provides opportunities for practice.
  • Is a competent psychic/medium who has worked professionally for several years.

If you educate yourself and you practice, you WILL learn the skill of discernment. Everyone does! However, each person is unique and learning how YOU discern between true and false guidance is a personal process. Practice is key!

FINAL THOUGHT: It helps to know which entities we should and shouldn’t be communicating with

Discernment is a skill that can be used with any entity that you are communicating with, and there are many who want to communicate with us (e.g., angels, guides, deceased loved ones). I have consistently found that my students’ discernment skills accelerate when they learn about which spiritual beings are safe to connect with and which aren’t.

For this reason, I encourage you to educate yourself by reading my Blog post Which Spiritual Entities Should and Shouldn’t We Communicate With?

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By Anne Reith, Ph.D.

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