This post is in response to Fandango’s Provocative Question #82:
Do you judge yourself by the same standards that you judge others? If not, are you harsher or more lenient on yourself?
Judging is my wheelhouse. Actually, change that to slaughterhouse. Not only do I judge myself more harshly than other people, I beat myself bloody if I fall short. Which is most of the time. (And I am pretty judgemental mental towards others, too.)
Of course, there are different dimensions to this question. There are standards for morality, for abilities, for work or art. There are standards simply for being a decent or functioning human in society.
It’s one thing to be a perfectionist, which I actually think, in many cases, can be worse for the people around you. (Mothers, anyone?) But as a personality type, if you’re rational and intelligent, you may be able to turn your judgmental nature into a positive by reaching for higher and higher levels of ability and skill. How else do great novels get written, or works of art be created? How does someone get to be a neurosurgeon? On the other hand, in matters of skill or achievement, we have to remember that it’s not a character flaw to not be good at sports or math. Different people have different abilities. Judging someone morally for what ought to be judged without regard to personal character are two separate things. And it’s a low thing to harshly judge people who were born with certain incapacities.
It also makes a difference who is the recipient of judgment, your relationship with them, and your means of communicating your judgments. Judging someone on television or in the news won’t really hurt their self-esteem. You’re just sort of sitting there on your couch, condemning them for their actions or opinions or bad singing. No one really changes. A boss can create lazy employees, exemplary employees, or depressed employees depending on how they wield their powers of judgment. Those with the most responsibility on their hands are teachers and especially parents. A boss only has so much proximity to an employee; the employee can choose to excel, coast by, or give up on life. A teacher or parent, though, has the power to affect someone forever by how they execute their judgments. High standards are a wonderful thing. Impossible ones are another thing entirely.
With regard to judging morality, it’s a mixed bag for me. It depends on which side of my personality has primacy at any given moment. The hypocrite is extremely hard on other people and is completely oblivious to itself, and the matter in question is almost always a case of projection. Speck in their eye, full bedroom set in mine. The egomaniac holds people to extremely low standards and believes it has excelled the highest, sort of like the hypocrite but much more active and deranged. The depressive holds me to extremely impossible standards while believing other people clear them with no trouble whatsoever. To be honest, it’s probably the most negative sides of my nature that hold sway in a given judgment about a person or action. Imagine a three foot tall Christian waving their hands for attention in a room full of monstrous giants.
If you’re someone who has a tendency to ruminate, I recommend that you be mindful of how you judge yourself because it can turn into a cacophony of critical voices inside your head, and no matter how hard and how long you bang your head on something, you won’t be able to make them stop. They will tell you that it is according to the world’s objectively true metrics that you are failing in every conceivable area of life. Judging and criticizing other people in an attempt to bring them down to your level always backfires.
On that happy note, I will conclude by saying that if we just relent for a few moments, we can see that we’re no different from other people. They make mistakes, we make mistakes. Nobody’s exempt.