No one is a success

It’s normal for your mind to judge, to declare you a failure or a success. The truth is that you’re neither. Sometimes you fail and sometimes you succeed. Who you are doesn’t change.

‘It is impossible to be a barrister without imagining oneself a judge, and Ducane’s imagination had often taken this flight. However, and this was another reason for Ducane’s ultimate disgust with life in the courts, the whole situation of ‘judging’ was abhorrent to him. He had watched his judges closely, and had come to the conclusion that no human being is worthy to be a judge. In theory, the judge represents simply the majesty and impartiality of the law whose instrument he is. In practice, because of the imprecision of law and the imperfection of man, the judge enjoys a considerable area of quite personal power which he may or may not exercise wisely. Ducane’s rational mind knew that there had to be law courts and that English law was on the whole good law and English judges good judges. But he detested that confrontation between the prisoner in the dock and the judge, dressed so like a king or a pope, seated up above him. His irrational heart, perceptive of the pride of judges, sickened and said it should not be thus; and said it the more passionately since there was that in Ducane which wanted to be a judge.

Ducane knew, and knew it in a half-guilty, half-annoyed way as if he had been eavesdropping, that there were moments when he had said to himself, ‘I alone of all these people am good enough, am humble enough, to be a judge’. Ducane was capable of picturing himself as not only aspiring to be, but as actually being, the just man and the just judge. He did not rightly know what to do with these visions. Sometimes he took them, now that he had removed himself from the possibility of actually becoming a real judge, for a sort of harmless idealism.

Sometimes they seemed to him the most corrupting influences in his life.’

Iris Murdoch. The Nice and the Good.

Most of us are far too quick to judge others: to label them as ‘quitters’, ‘losers’ or ‘failures’. If we want to let go of judging ourselves harshly, we also need to do the same for others. The more we point the finger at our fellow human beings, and write them off as weak or inferior, the more we entrench the habit of harsh judgemental thinking. And sooner or later, our minds will turn those judgements back on ourselves.

Life is easier when we recognize there are no such people as ‘quitters’, ‘losers’ or ‘failures’. There are just human beings, who – much like you and me – sometimes quit, sometimes lose and sometimes fail. Likewise, there are no such people as ‘winners’, ‘champions’ and ‘successes’. Rather there are human beings who, just like you and me, sometimes win or are very successful in certain areas of their lives.

Russ Harris. The Confidence Gap.

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