(Not a knocker-downer.)
I have noticed that there seem two be two kinds of people in this life Lottie, (actually, there are millions and billions of different kinds of people, but mainly two in relation to this blog):
1: The builder-uppers: Those gems of people that support you no matter what. Whether or not they think your ideas and dreams are over ambitious, they will still listen carefully as you describe them (in depth) to them, and will think you’re marvelous regardless. They’re rooting for you. They’ll support you if they can. They’re not jealous of the stuff you’re doing (maybe because they know there is enough success for everyone?) They’re confident, and know that every person is brilliant, so there’s no need to make others feel small or insignificant because it would be an abuse of their words and a waste of their time.
2: The knocker-downers: The knocker-downers are an interesting breed, and yes, I’ve met a few. Try to tell them what you’ve been up to recently, and their eyes glaze over, wandering off in to the distance. They are calculating in their head the appropriate amount of time to wait until they can bulldoze in to your conversation with their latest string of successes, which will certainly rival yours. They have an uncontrollable urge to be more successful than you, so that you feel small and humble in the conversation. It’s a status thing, and an insecurity thing, I think. Inside they may be jealous of what your doing, or what you have, and will always try to be ‘one-up’ on you. They may be negative about your achievements, or act completely uninterested, throwing a quick and superficial ‘that’s lovely,’ at your news.
I’ve met some real life knocker-downers and I’ve had knocker-downer comments on some articles I’ve had published in the past. ‘This is badly written. The writer is terrible.’ They have said. Firstly the ‘writer’ has a name, her name is Amie, which is always clearly written at the bottom of the article, but often knocker-downers choose to ignore that. Secondly, and more importantly it was at the precise moment on reading these comments I made my decision to try always to be a builder-upper (even to strangers), because I realised that no-one can be a truly happy knocker-downer, I’m sure we’ve all had knocker-down moments ourselves, I know I have in the past, they never made me feel good. In telling people they’re bad, or rubbish, or in acting disinterested, or being desperate for them to shut up, because we perceive ourselves as currently having ‘more-going-for-us’ – we eat up a little of their self-confidence, a little of their excitement or passion* , and in doing so, I believe we destroy a little of our own too.
And of course, as with everything, we are transient beings, our actions affected perpetually by our experiences and our mood – knocker-downers are not ‘BAD PEOPLE’, they need understanding too, and building up. They may just be having an out of character K-D moment. But when I think in terms of myself, and how I want to be, I want to be a builder-upper, as much as is humanly possible, as often as I can be and ideally all the time.
Imagine a whole world of builder-uppers, imagine if everyone was rooting for everyone else, supporting them in being the best they could be, willing them to make great, good achievements and go beyond the things they ever imagined possible – we would move in leaps and bounds. I always believe that in order to change the world, we have to start with ourselves (Mahatma Gandi’s philosophy), and by choosing to be builder-uppers (not knocker downers) we all give each other the best possible chances at everything.
“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.” – David W Orr
– I like this, and perhaps the need for success is the reason for the knocker-downers persistence. I don’t know, I need to think about it some more.
*(I can only speak from experience, some people may not feel this at all when they get K-Dd)