While singing a familiar song it was quickly pointed out to me that I sorely misquoted the lyrics. My wife, the musical connoisseur that she is, quickly took advantage of the misstep and corrected the issue. The song in question is not as important as my reaction to the accusation. At this moment I had never been more sure of my conclusion. Equipped with pride and the mighty arm of Google, I quickly pulled out my phone to defend my position. In the end, we discovered that once again, she was right.
I stooped down to pick up what was left of my pride as she celebrated another victory – one of her many I might add. The consequences were not dire, but the feelings of frustration were familiar. Being told you are wrong is not nearly as difficult as admitting you actually are.
When was the last time you were wrong about something? Just the mere reading of that statement can evoke feelings of insecurity, anger, fear, and put us on the defensive. Admitting you are wrong can make you feel inadequate and fill you with self-doubt. Confronting these feelings can be uncomfortable, especially when the stakes are higher than just a misquote of a song lyric.
The emotions can become more complicated depending on the belief or value that is being confronted. Participating or being introduced to a concept that is contrary to long-held beliefs can cause emotional stress. Psychologists call this emotional stress Cognitive Dissonance. Psychologist Carol Travis suggests that Cognitive Dissonance is “what we feel when the self-concept – I’m convinced that I am right – is threatened by the evidence that the belief or conviction is actually false.”
To resolve the emotional conflict we either must accept the newfound evidence or reject it entirely and refuse to change. Sadly we are prone to take the path of least resistance and persist in ignorance. The term “ignorance” in and of itself is not a term intended to be used as condescending. In this context, it is merely a reference to someone who is unaware of new information or has chosen to ignore it.
Each time we are presented with new information, we enter into this cycle and have to make a conscious or subconscious decision about how we will process it. The process is complicated if the new information requires us to make a change in our behavior and attitudes. The inevitable nature of change does not make our ability to accept it any easier.
It takes courage and strength to walk away from long-held beliefs when introduced to new information. When we are challenged it is a natural thing to reject new information and ideas. For the most part – I have found that it is instinctual that we are always on the right side of an issue and we take great pride in our belief systems. Admitting we are wrong puts us in a vulnerable position.
These emotions involved in admitting when we are wrong to have become heightened in a social construct where perfection seems to be the rule of the day. The end result is that we have become more concerned with defending our position than with listening to the differing viewpoints of others. No one seems to be willing to confess that we are flawed people and the pursuit of being perfect is a fool’s errand.
The truth is, each one of us has flaws and we are going to make mistakes and blunders. Don’t be afraid of the vulnerability to admit those flaws in your own life and in the process be accepting of other’s flaws and imperfections. It is OK To be wrong! It is inevitable.
As we continue to do life together it is important to come to these moments of self-awareness. In the end, we are each unique individuals hopelessly flawed. It is important to give yourself the grace to make mistakes. As we embrace the grace to forgive ourselves of our mistakes and missteps, we must also extend that same grace to others who are traveling their own paths.