Distrusting your judgement.

I haven’t seen it since it came out but to the best of my recollection, the Jake Gyllenhaal movie, “Life” sucked. I left the theatre enraged.

It’s your basic alien movie. Plucky interstellar crew seeks out new life until it all goes bad. Until said alien – spoiler alert – eats Ryan Reynolds from the inside out. Then they want to kill the little sucker, which keeps growing as it works its way through the crew buffet. As is mostly the case in these types of films, the alien proves to be smarter than the people around it most of the time.

I expected something better. I don’t know why; I was warned. The people in my life were less thrilled by the trailer than I was. They probably watched it critically. I saw space and aliens and explosions and my higher-level thought disappeared behind anticipation. I ignored the little voice that disagreed with the naysayers. I love going to the movies and I love big budget science flicks. I’m not even a critical audience; I’m appreciative even when they’re marginally well done. I so wanted it to be good. Unfortunately, even uncritical viewers were destined to be disappointed here. The actors phoned it in, the dialogue was cheesy, the special effects just meh, and the ending so predictably trite that I wanted to scream.

Somehow, despite all that, I’m tempted to watch it again. It would be easy – it just showed up on Netflix. I want another quick look. I want to check and see if it was really that bad, really that awful.

The thing is, I know it was. I know deep down that it was atrocious and my post-viewing judgement is correct. My gut feelings before I saw it were correct. Why then do I second guess myself?

Second guessing myself is not new. I’d say “I always do” but universals are rarely correct. Still, most of the time, I question my judgements, my conclusions, and my gut feelings.

I like to say I have awful judgement, that I’m a poor judge of character, and that I’m bad at reading signs but that’s just a knee-jerk, self-critical response. The truth is, I’m actually pretty good at it. In retrospect, a lot of my judgements and conclusions and feelings have been accurate. I just don’t listen to them. I ignore what I think, I ignore my gut. Because who am I to have an opinion or feeling about anything that directly affects me? Who am I to say what I think?

I can hold the line on generic principles; I trust my judgement when it comes to issues where I can back up the argument with some well-placed journalistic references – I’m willing to debate climate change for hours – it’s at the personal level where things get tricky. I unfortunately automatically assume that my decision about the whatever is incorrect. I assume I’m in the wrong. Regardless of my feelings.

I question my judgement because it comes from me. I have this odd belief that things I generate must be wrong, flawed in some way, suspect. I’m not allowed to trust myself or believe in myself. Ironically, it’s when I don’t that things usually go the most wrong.

I don’t trust my judgement because I’m not allowed to make mistakes and when something is subjective, the risk of that is higher. That’s what it boils down to, I think, when we don’t trust our judgement. We’re afraid of being wrong. We’re afraid to trust ourselves. We’re afraid of what being wrong says about us.

How did making a mistake become such a dire thing? Everyone does it. Why can some people laugh off errors as simply a function of life while others of it take it so personally, sure that it means we’re fatally flawed?

It comes from not believing we’re sufficient, I suppose. It comes from believing I have to earn my air and my right to exist; one of the ways I need to do that is to be perfect. High stakes. Make a mistake and you’re worthless. And since I make mistakes and therefore believe I’m worthless, why would I trust my judgement – even though it’s often proven to be right? A vicious circle.

The only way to win, to survive with grace intact, is to not play.

It starts with trusting the gut. With believing you are entitled to make decisions and judgments. You just do it. I know it’s going to be hard to ignore the inside voice that tells me I might make a mistake and that would be world ending. Because I know in the logical part of my brain that it wouldn’t be. And, to be honest, my life isn’t large enough for significant repercussions from mistakes.

When I look back at big mistakes I’ve made, most of them have happened because I ignored my own feelings, ignored my own gut. If nothing else, trying to listen to my inside voice will stop future regrets about ignoring it.

If I’d listened to my judgement in the past, I wouldn’t have spent two hours of my life that I can never get back on a movie that added nothing to my existence.

4 thoughts on “Distrusting your judgement.

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