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Being wrong is a fabulous opportunity for learning and growing. Of course, that rarely crosses your mind when you are busy rethinking your life choices. That’s why I have compiled a list of 5 lessons on being wrong that might convince you to cut yourself some slack.
We put a lot of pressure on our shoulders to get everything right, from making the wisest life decisions to being excellent students and valuable employees and going to great lengths to make relationships work. In the meantime, we are all convinced that everyone else has it all figured out.
In my opinion, always being right, apart from being impossible, is also utterly useless for your development as a human being. Let me prove to you why with these 5 lessons on being wrong.
5 Lessons On Being Wrong
1. Mistakes Make Us Better Learners And Humans
Mistakes make us feel uncomfortable. Yet, there is more value in exploring them as opportunities for self-improvement. It is a cliché, but we actually do learn better by making mistakes.
Because of the negative emotional response to a mistake, our brain becomes conditioned to avoid similar situations. In this sense, making wrong choices adds to your experience.
Trying and failing puts you in a better position than someone who hasn’t even made the first step.
Wrong choices also create the potential for personal growth. Through trial and error, we gain deeper insight into our strengths, weaknesses, and preferences.
If only we could interpret our mishaps as feedback, we could start a constructive process of evolving our skills, improving our habits, and overall growing as humans.
2. A Wrong Choice Is Not The End Of The World
We often tend to view life in black and white, especially when facing a crossroads. We convince ourselves that we have limited options. Inevitably, we get the “oh my, better not f* it up then!” feeling.
However, our perception is limited. No matter how much we obsess over a decision, we can never be sure of what life will bring in the long term. The times I have chosen path B over A, only to find myself walking along path C, are countless.
I am by no means downgrading the impact of wrong choices. Just encouraging you to view mistakes not as the end of your road but as a slight detour. Try to recall the times you bounced back after what you thought was the gravest fallout.
Don’t take mistakes (or life, for that matter) too seriously. Embrace a more playful and experimental attitude towards life decisions. If something doesn’t go as planned, you can always try something else.
3. You’re Not Actually Afraid Of Being Wrong
I was listening to a podcast by Rowena Tsai, where she was talking about comfort zones. She beautifully quoted, “You’re not afraid of doing the thing (that makes you uncomfortable), but the feeling that might come up if you do it.”
I would like to take this a bit further and question: what if we are not actually afraid of being wrong, but its emotional implications? Being wrong makes us feel failed, embarrassed, and unworthy. What if I never succeed? What will the people say now?
The fear of failure and its “consequences” often hold us back from pursuing what we want. We would rather conform than get hurt. However:
Making peace with the risk of being wrong is a form of taking responsibility for your life.
4. Being Wrong Has Nothing To Do With Your Value
In 2018, Mark Rober, a YouTuber and ex-NASA engineer, gave a very thought-provoking TED talk. He had conducted an experiment with his followers, creating a coding challenge, presumably aimed to help people learn to code.
He split the participants into two groups. When the first group ran the code and failed, they were presented with the message, “That didn’t work. Please try again.” He provided the second group with 200 points and prepared the message, “That didn’t work. You lost 5 points. You now have X points. Please try again.”
He proved that people given points to “lose” were statistically making less than half the attempts to solve the problem than the other group.
I think this brilliantly highlights how personally we take failure. In our materialistic society, our value is determined by our output. So, there are internal and external expectations to succeed and do well at all times.
However, failure is just a temporary variable that has nothing to do with your personal worth. Detach your self-worth from external achievements and rigid expectations and view mishaps as valuable stepping stones for growth.
5. Asking For Help Is A Mature Move
I believe there is a tendency to romanticize the grind of struggling alone to figure everything out. Getting help is often interpreted as a sign of weakness and giving up.
Yet, we all agree that if you try something for the first time, you most likely don’t have the necessary experience to pull all the right cards.
Therefore, borrowing the wisdom of people who have scarred their faces on the grounds you are exploring is a smart and mature move. It doesn’t make you less brave or competent. On the contrary, it shows you are keen on gathering all the useful information you need before making important decisions.
You also become more familiar with stories of people who have succeeded, failed, or pivoted, shaping a more realistic understanding of the different possibilities.
This wraps up 5 lessons on being wrong that I wish I knew sooner. Detaching our self-worth from the perpetual hunt for success is liberating. The take-home message is that failure is not a dooming conviction but a beautiful opportunity to adjust your methods and retry.
Think about babies walking for the first time. They will inevitably fall on their ass. And even though it hurts, they will get up and happily try again.
I encourage you to be like those babies – willing to experiment regardless of the outcome. Somewhere along the trials and errors, you will find your way of doing things and grow as a person.