Freedom of Being Wrong
by Dr. Greg Baer
- September 10, 2002
of us make many mistakes every day—we fail to do what we promised, or we perform
a task imperfectly or incompletely—and in the process, we look flawed,
irresponsible, or inconsiderate. Then we worry that people will
notice our mistakes, because they might think badly of us. If they do notice, we
go to great lengths to explain how it wasn't our fault, or that it wasn't really
a mistake at all. If they persist in their blaming, we may criticize something
about them in return, distracting them from their observations about our flaws.
Even if no one does notice our mistake, we often still cover it up carefully, to
be sure that no one ever will.
What do we get from all that worry and effort to hide our mistakes? When was the
last time you felt closer to someone, or more accepted and loved, after you lied
to him or her, or expressed your anger? As you do those things, has your
relationship with anyone ever been richer or stronger? Of course not. Those
behaviors interfere with our relationships and our own happiness every time.
So why do we continue to do the things that make others and ourselves unhappy?
Why don't we just freely admit our mistakes? Because we've learned from a great
deal of past experience that when we make mistakes and inconvenience the people
around us, they consistently express their disappointment and irritation toward
us. Without meaning to, the people in our lives taught us that we're "bad" when
we make mistakes. Because there is nothing we want more than to feel accepted,
those negative expressions are very painful to us, and we'll do almost anything
in order to avoid being wrong and experiencing that unbearable discomfort again.
But we are not bad when we make mistakes. We're just wrong. Being wrong means
that in a given moment we simply don't know the right answer or we're not wise
enough to practically apply the knowledge we have. It means we're in the
process of learning. Isn't that what we're supposed to be doing? Don't we have
to be wrong ten, a hundred, a thousand times before we can do some things right
consistently? Can we learn to play the piano, or hit a baseball, or even love
people without making lots of mistakes? And if we're learning, does it really
matter how many mistakes we make? Mistakes are simply unavoidable as we learn.
The worst thing we can do is hide our
mistakes, because then we're doomed to repeat them, endlessly and needlessly.
Look what happens when we're selfish and unloving in a relationship. That's an
ugly and potentially embarrassing
thing to admit, which is why we lie about it. But the moment we lie, we
absolutely guarantee that we'll repeat the same behavior the next time. And the
problems in our relationship are then unsolvable.
The best thing we can do is admit when we're wrong, which is most of the time.
As we do that, we experience the delightful freedom that comes when we're no
longer chained to the same old feelings and behaviors associated
with our mistakes: fear, blaming, hurt, anger, lying, and withdrawal. When we
admit we're wrong, we create opportunities for people to accept and love us as
we really are, and that's when we can finally have loving relationships.
To be sure, some people will criticize us even more vigorously when we admit our
mistakes, but as we continue to be honest, we'll find more and more people who
will accept us as we are. As we experience the delight of really being
accepted—with our mistakes—we'll discover that the sting of being wrong
disappears. We learn that being wrong wasn't the problem all along. The real
problem was our fear of people not accepting and loving us with our mistakes.
That is always our greatest fear, and the only way to overcome it is to tell the
truth about ourselves and create opportunities to feel Real Love—where people
accept us and care about our happiness without our having to do anything to earn
We really are wrong on so many occasions—irresponsible, not loving, less than
considerate—so why not admit it and enjoy the freedom and growth and acceptance
that follow. The real tragedy in making mistakes is denying them. Then we can't
do anything about them, nor can we feel the Real Love available to us.
here to purchase Dr. Greg Baer's new book:
Real Love: The Truth About Finding Unconditional Love & Fulfilling Relationships
- Greg Baer, M.D.
The Truth About Relationships- Dr. Greg Baer