This post is perhaps more confessional than most. I’m choosing to write this post because I think what has surprised me is not that I can behave badly or have destructive thoughts, but rather that I never realised that this particular train of thought was problematic.
I have just returned from a conference. Whilst the people I encountered were all very friendly, it is quite a critical environment (not in a constructive way). For example after the talk on the first evening, I was standing with two people who felt very comfortable criticising the content of the talk. I was not surprised by this, as this kind of analysis is not uncommon.
This particular conference is held every two years, and the community is largely the same each time – at least the academics are the same, the students rotate in and out. There is a person I encounter in this environment whom I have been quite comfortable to be judgemental about. Not only have I felt quite comfortable being critical of their work, I have allowed that to leak into the way I view them as a person.
I am not proud of this at all. I don’t know their story at all really (I still don’t). The work this person does is not earth shattering but it is solid. And they care about what they do. My judgement is neither fair nor just. I am judging them based on my particular criteria for what it means to ‘succeed’ in this environment. But who they are is so much more than this.
The environment does have a judgemental element which no doubt fosters my own. But even so this particular judgement has been my own and I am not proud of it. But again the reason I write this post is not to say I am a terrible person. It is to highlight the fact that up until a few days ago, I wasn’t at all troubled that I sat in judgement of this person.
We all have negative and destructive thought patterns and sometimes our ideas of who others are gets folded into that. The problem comes when we are comfortable with those judgements. I can see this operational in others, but the last few days have taught me that I am far more blind to that pattern in myself.