How do you feel about the possibility of being wrong?
It is considered to be a very bad thing by most people, resulting in feelings of dread, embarrassment, emptiness, sadness and a sense of loss for time and effort, which may have been wasted. We really don’t want to be proven wrong, do we?
We’re right until we know we’re wrong
The trouble is we feel we are right (even though we might actually be wrong) until the point we REALISE we’re wrong. A good analogy for this is the Looney tunes cartoon where the coyote chases the road runner off the end of a cliff, and is okay, even though he’s running in mid air, until he realises there’s nothing under his feet, only then does he fall.
We misunderstand the signs around us more than we care to admit, yet we do what we can to avoid thinking about the possibility of being wrong.
We grow to believe we see the world as it really is, we are certain it is so, but this is dangerous. When we ATTACH to the idea of needing to be right, this prevents us accepting any possibility of being wrong.
Dealing with disagreement
In the face of disagreement, we are convinced that those who disagree are ignorant of the full facts, and when they are furnished with them, they will agree with our view.
If others have the same facts as us, but still disagree, then we resort to thinking them to be morons and idiots, who lack the necessary education to grasp the true reality.
When we know others to be smart and they still disagree with us, we think they may be withholding something from us, for their own gain.
All these are psychological coping strategies, to keep us from admitting we might actually be the ones who are wrong.
Culture teaches us to be right
Culture has conditioned us into thinking that people who failed when we were growing up in school, were the class dim-wits and drop outs, we have learned that lesson so well that we carry the fear of being wrong with us into our adult lives and subsequently spend all our time avoiding the possibility. We believe getting something wrong means there’s something wrong with us.
We’re missing something
We overlook the role INTERPRETATION plays in shaping our perceptions, which explains why different people might take different meanings from the same event.
This however is what feeds creativity and makes mankind so interesting and diverse. If we all saw the world in the same way, we would lose much of what makes us, us.
Be prepared to stand outside the need to be right all the time, accept we are probably wrong a lot of the time and that’s okay. For instance, we might have thought in our school days that we would marry our childhood sweetheart or be flying around with jet packs strapped to our backs as adults, but life just doesn’t turn out the way we thought it would.
Check out this Ted Talk lecture by Kathryn Schulz, it’s the inspiration for this article and well worth a watch.