It puzzles me that “Judgment” is seen as such a bad thing for people to do to each other. Bear in mind that I don’t set out to make the world a terrible place, and I don’t think it is one (generally).
To be fair though, no one sets out to make the world a terrible place, they just ignore the signs that what they are doing is terrible, and do terrible things anyway, and that is kind of what “I’m on about” here.
If you know me personally, there has probably been a time when I have made you uncomfortable. But if I am lucky enough that you are still a part of my life, you know how much I care about people and my surroundings.
Over more than a decade of flexing my analysis muscles on computer software and interpersonal problems. Combined with my history of rocky personal experiences, new-age up-bringing, and hawk-like fascination with psychology diagnosis. I wake up with a pretty critical eye of the world. My technical mind is constantly taking things apart in every area that I have a familiarity with, and that’s not just computer code any-more. And when I figure out something that is causing someone discomfort around me I share it sometimes, sorry.
One key to my personal growth has been to limit what I take personally to the smallest possible amount so that I can freely accept criticism and make improvements on as much of my life as possible. I commonly receive the compliment that I “take criticism very well” from a range of people and situations including therapists (who I pay, admittedly), junior-engineers who disliked how differently I wrote code, and investors who think my company’s market-fit is a challenge. This comes somewhat naturally to me due to how I process social-feedback.
The same abilities that aid me in understanding/accepting things (and make me somewhat unable not to share them, or make me insensitive about how I share them) can be called autism or social detachment. And it has been and will continue to enable terrifying acts of socially irresponsible behaviour, due to the lack of empathy it enables. But it can also be a super power for personal and societal growth.
When the available surface-area of yourself that you can comfortably accept criticism is larger, it is an indication of a more balanced ego, where you can acknowledge the effects of your actions and make adjustments to get the outcomes you desire without unnecessary steps or delays to your life or the lives of people around you.
Yes that’s right, being overly defensive is egotism. It’s the side of egotism that is less talked about, partly because it is internal and less likely to be spotted in a crowd. And in my opinion it is far more dangerous than excessive self-identity, for one extremely scary reason: It robs people of the opportunities in their life.
Everything from career stagnation and relationship problems to extreme substance addiction is caused by an inability to adjust to the signals received in every-day circumstances. And the evidence is almost always there. It’s usually not that hard to find negative signals that contain useful information about improving what you have or who you are.
But if the subject or the territory, or implied area, is off-limits. If the ideas are “too personal”. You will be shut out, not-included, and ultimately unaware. If the signals are defined as a threat to “you”, evaluation and adjustment becomes far more challenging.
“Don’t take things personally” is a well meaning phrase intended to keep people from giving up on their dreams. But the real spirit of this is better when combined with “Take it like a X”. Where you take it, but don’t take it personally. I’ll let you fill in the blank for X here, because the common word is super sexist and quite frankly, if we are talking about your identity, it should be you who determines what you take things as.
Take it like a sloth or take it like a unicorn, but whatever you take it as, please… please, I’m begging you…please… for me…
Don’t take it like it will break you.
Because chances are, the only way it could break you, is if you ignore it until it builds up to be so big that you miss or destroy something special in your life. Because let’s be honest… that could break you.
When your ego is sized appropriately you won’t have to take judgement personally or avoid it. And when that is the case, with the awareness of what impact you are having, and how adjustments can effect you and your surroundings, who you are and what you do is really up to “you”.
The real “you”.