Judgment

Positive judgment hurts less acutely than criticism, but it is judgment all the same and we are harmed by it in far more subtle ways. To seek approval is to have no resting place, no sanctuary.  ~Rachel Naomi Remen, from Kitchen Table Wisdom 

The only way to escape the personal corruption of praise is to go on working.  ~Einstein

Remen begins her essay on this topic by asserting that “the life in us is diminished by judgment far more frequently than disease. Our own self-judgment or the judgment of other people can stifle our life force, its spontaneity and natural expression.” Amen! But she goes on to remind us that approval can make us just as uncertain of our true worth as criticism. How have I “performed” for approval, either from others or from myself? From the time I was barely reading and was prompted to recite selections from Cautionary Verses* for company, to my career accomplishments, I have to admit there have been many such times.

As Remen also points out, one of the joys of aging is the recognition that we are whole people, with the full range of human characteristics: “fear and courage, generosity and selfishness, vulnerability and strength.” What we consider our shortcomings sometimes turn out to be strengths, and vice versa. And I love these concluding lines of her chapter: “Things that I have hidden from others for years turn out to be the anchor and enrichment of my middle age. What a blessing it is to outlive your self-judgments and harvest  your failures.”

It seems to me there is little else to be said about the absolutely perfect antidote Einstein supplies. How has judgment affected your life? What have you learned from your pursuit of approval?

*Cautionary Verses, by Hilaire Belloc, is a collection of droll, satirical moralisms with titles such as “Matilda, who told lies and was burned to death” and “Jim, who ran away from his nurse and was eaten by a lion.” These are two I can still recite, along with “Henry King, who chewed bits of string and was early cut off in dreadful agonies.” One of my favorite stories about Belloc is his chosen epitaph: “When I am dead, I hope it may be said: His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.”

About these ads

9 Responses to Judgment

  1. papaw arthur says:

    Wow! I cannot tell you how much this post means to me. Thank you.

  2. Claudia says:

    Yep, this was one of the best. I think I’ll take a look at “Kitchen Table Wisdom” too. It just so happens my public library has a copy. They must have a really good selector. :-)

  3. quotesqueen says:

    I said that very thing to Sam the other day, when I looked up a book he had said was really good, The Harvard Medical Guide to Controlling Blood Pressure–your two libraries were among a small group of PINES libraries that had it!

  4. Teresa says:

    I really don’t think it’s possible to be human without judging AND being judged, unless you live in absolute isolation. Even then, I bet the small nagging voice in the back of all our heads would still be whispering, “Hey, you in the cave! Stop chewing your fingernails!” or some such, but I will try, really, I will try

  5. [...] your favorite joke/riddle/pun/funny quotation/silly poem? I mentioned Cautionary Verses in an earlier post. While we’re on the subject of books, here’s a link to Sarah Byng, who could not read [...]

  6. [...] A new house was being built.” I remember these lines because they were music. As were the Cautionary Verses of Hilaire Belloc I memorized and recited as a child. (”The chief defect of Henry King/was [...]

  7. [...] Whether or not I receive this award, I am heartened by the nominators’ efforts, and it makes me want to pay it forward by nominating someone else for something. Meanwhile, I’m trying to remember Einstein’s words, “The only way to escape the personal corruption of praise is to go on working.” (See also an earlier post, Judgment.) [...]

  8. [...] what I want to say and how well I am communicating it. (For more reflections on approval, see Judgment .) I believe participating in this group will lead to greater [...]

  9. [...] Wheatley says praise and blame are two sides of the same coin. I couldn’t agree more. For my take on that subject, see a previous entry, “Judgment.” [...]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 29 other followers

%d bloggers like this: