HOW CORE VALUES CAN BE DESTRUCTIVE, by Art Smukler, author & psychiatrist

Recently, two things happened that made me rethink the state of my own values.

First the bad news. A new patient left me a message that he didn’t want to see me anymore because I was too judgmental. Me judgmental? How is that possible? Then I thought about it for a while and shook my head. I am pretty judgmental about religion. My ex-patient had a good point. Who’d want to spend his time and money being judged? Parents and family can do that free of charge.

Now the good news. I commented in an on-line fiction group that when someone states what they believe, it is common courtesy to accept his or her belief. Trying over and over to push your belief, whether right or wrong, borders on abuse. Each of us has the right to our personal standards and ethics. Whether it’s abortion rights, gun control, immigration, or dancing in a strip bar, the right to a personal belief is essential. Often disagreements are fun and interesting. I think that trying to overwhelm someone with your belief, when they have clearly stated that they had enough, is not pleasant, helpful or respectful.

One writer commented;

Hear! Hear, Art. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
I lead an adult bible discussion group on Sunday mornings at First United Methodist Church in downtown Miami FL. Your standards, Art, so ably expressed, are the very essence of our group.
My point is, if a religious discussion group can hold to Art’s guidelines, why not a sophisticated group like writers?

So there you have it. Passion and intense feelings often overwhelm logical thinking and expression. We may cross boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed, or if crossed, should be done as if treading on fragile explosives.

Insulting or being insensitive to someone’s core beliefs will NOT get them to change or respect your position. So what can? Education, life experience, and maybe really caring about the person with whom you have the disagreement.

When it comes to a successful human interaction, being right is often inconsequential.

Art Smukler MD is the author of Skin Dance, a mystery, Chasing Backwards, a psychological murder mystery, The Man with a Microphone in his Ear, and the blog, Inside the Mind of a Psychiatrist.