Are we the best judge of our own failings?
I don’t want to choose a particular “failing” because I’d immediately open the door to a passionate, perhaps angry debate.
And the debates tend to skyrocket easily. Before long we’ve gone nuclear and we’re lobbing memes at each other. That isn’t what I want.
You’re welcome to choose a failing and substitute that for the generic term.
In my terminology, a “failing” is a place or event where we didn’t live up to the standards in the eyes of the one doing the judging. Yes, it’s a judgment. But it’s at the center of most of our social debates these days, so I use the term.
In my opinion, we do tend to be judgmental, whether we think we are or not, as our social discourse (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) amply reveals.
What do we do with something we perceive in ourselves to be a failing? I can really only speak for myself so I use myself as an example.
When I confront a failing, I feel an overwhelming (and welcomed) urge to embed it in a self-serving story, blend it in there, present the best possible face.
Synonyms for “self-serving” are “service-to-self” and “looking out for Number 1.” A near-relative of “failing” is the word “sin,” which in archery means “a missed mark.” A failing is a missed mark.
We often call our self-serving stories “puffing ourselves” and “shifting the blame.” If one becomes too deeply-mired in self-servingness, we often call that person a “narcissist.”
But to return to our question…. My self-serving story serves several purposes:
(1) It excuses my failures, defeats, and losses and blames someone else for them (You made me mad; you made me do it).
(2) It locates the cause of my successes, victories, and gains in myself and not in anyone else.
(3) It justifies my actions and disputes the justifications of others.
(4) It praises my actions (or invites praise) and condemns the actions of others.
I find the temptation to tell a story self-servingly almost irresistible. Even if I avoid it to a degree, at some point I find a strong urge to slip in a wee self-serving comment, just ever so small (he said self-servingly).
The more important the matter, the greater the pressure to be self-serving with it. Look at our political leaders. They yield to the temptation to be self-serving continuously – on camera and off. (Oh, no, this is not a judgment; it’s an observation, he said in his own defence.)
Most people talk self-servingly and are unaware of it. Or if they’re aware of it, they’re expecting most people to agree with them.
A friend is someone who agrees with my self-serving rendition of things, especially (critically) when I’m on a slippery slope. In the growth movement, we’d call that “buying our bullshzt.”
Unless I’m a prophet, saint, or avatar, I’m probably not beyond the reach of the self-serving bias. That means to me, to answer our initial question, that, in most cases of looking at my own failings, I’m definitely not the best judge.
“This is the Time We’ve been Praying for,”
“The Self-Serving Bias: The Chief Barrier to Life Working,”
“Obstacles to a Smooth Ascension: Self-Servingness,” Dec . 4, 2012, at https://goldenageofgaia.com/ascension-as-of-2012/obstacles-to-a-smooth-ascension/obstacles-to-a-smooth-ascension-self-servingness/
“What Do We Want? A Self-Serving Society or a World That Works for Everyone?” Nov. 24, 2011, at https://goldenageofgaia.com/2011/11/24/what-do-we-want-a-self-serving-society-or-a-world-that-works-for-everyone/
“Good Example of the Self-Serving Bias,” Aug. 4, 2011, at https://goldenageofgaia.com/archive/misinformation-and-disinformation/good-example-of-the-self-serving-bias/
“Good Time to Review the Self-Serving Bias,”
“The Self-Serving Bias,” Mar. 7, 2011, at https://goldenageofgaia.com/2011/03/05/selfserving-bias/