Being ‘right’ can feel good a lot of the time. But opening ourselves up to the idea of being ‘wrong’ is where real personal growth and progression comes from.
I like being right about things. It feels good.
In fact, if I’m honest, there’s a part of me that just seeks to be continually right about everything all the time. A part that gets a kick out of the times where I’m able to hold my head high and maybe even think a little “I told you so”.
But there’s also another part of me that’s recently come to understand how powerful and growth assisting being ‘wrong’ about something can be. Or not even being wrong, just simply being willing to be wrong.
I’ve always been someone who’s loved the idea of collecting knowledge. Continually looking to learn and know more about anything and everything I can.
Yet in this pursuit of deepening knowledge, there was always a resistance to the idea that something I’d already learned might, in fact, be wrong. A kind of subconscious stubbornness, if you will.
And this is also how I managed to keep myself stuck hitting brick walls in my life and limiting myself for many years. Stuck in this ‘linear thinking’ of striving to know more about this world without being willing to accept the possibility that what I already believe to be true might not necessarily be ‘the truth’.
What is ‘the Truth’?
You may think that’s a bit of a weird question. The truth is… the truth, right? It’s unarguable and obvious to everyone.
But part of this wonderful and unique human experience that we share is our ability to consciously think and draw opinions on what we see around us.
The problem that can arise here for many of us, however, is when we start to intertwine these two concepts. When we form opinions, stories or theories about life that are so insidious and deep rooted we just see them as truths.
Of course, I’m not saying this is necessarily a ‘bad thing’. It’s a wonderful part of being human that we’re able to look at the world and draw meaning and form beliefs about what is true based on what we’ve seen, heard and experienced in our past.
But seeing our beliefs for what they are – beliefs, not strict truths – can be monumentally powerful if we want to continually grow and push beyond our self-imposed limits.
Escaping the Echo Chamber
Think of beliefs like a pair of lenses we look at the world through that slightly ‘skew’ our own personal view based upon everything that we’ve experienced up to the present moment.
If we put on an actual pair of glasses and everything became blurry, most people would conclude that they’re simply wearing the wrong lenses. Not that everything has actually become blurry.
Yet when it comes to our ‘belief lenses’ we tend to not even acknowledge or be aware that they’re even there. We just accept it and take what we see as complete truth. It’s being able to recognise the existence of the lenses and that they can be changed that allows us to grow and push past our limits.
A huge part of how I did this was becoming aware of a variety of ‘echo chambers’ in my life. Places that I would unintentionally be pulled towards that would echo back to me what I think and say, continually validating my current beliefs and drilling them in further and further each time.
We all have social media channels, favourite news outlets, social circles, religious gatherings and a variety of other places we go and events we experience. The problem is that we just naturally (and blamelessly) gravitate towards the ones that agree with what we already think. Our brain wants us to be ‘right’ and so we actively, and usually subconsciously, seek out the places where we will be told that.
Effectively, we gravitate towards anything that will have our current beliefs replayed back to us and justify that we carry on believing them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not by any means saying that having a particular belief is necessarily ‘good’ nor ‘bad’. Just that having the willingness to look at and, if necessary, challenge any of them can be hugely enlightening for ourselves and humanity as a whole.
Look at our history, for example. There was a time where it was generally believed that witches lived among us. And it was necessary to identify and burn at the stake certain members of society who were deemed to be practising witchcraft.
Most people would look back at this now and shake their heads at how we could believe such a thing on such a wide scale. But at the time it was just accepted by most people as ‘how things are’.
So my point is – what are the ‘witchcraft accusations’ of today’s world? What will future generations look back at us in disbelief at? And what are the things we personally believe on an individual level that hold us back from living life how we want?
The answers to all these can begin to come from the simple act of each of us embracing the idea of ‘being wrong’ and becoming aware of the lenses we see our world through. Because if we can commit to this on an individual level, then it liberates our mind to continually push the boundaries of what we’re personally capable of as well contributing to an overall evolution of human consciousness.
Death of the Ego
As with many things, however, the phrase ‘easier said than done’ comes to mind with all of this.
It’s easy for me to sit here and write this article suggesting that we all just become willing to question our beliefs when necessary, live amazing lives and evolve human consciousness. Within a few years we all should be existing in a Utopian paradise where abundance is everywhere, discrimination is extinct, war is over and everyone has a pet unicorn, right?
In reality, there’s much more to it. Because there’s one thing we all possess that will have us continually resist this whole idea – the ego.
It’s this concept of ego that contains all our beliefs and perceptions about ourselves, our self-image and the world. And it’s the ego that, among other things, drives that incessant need to be right. The need for us to stay attached to all the current self-ideas and prove ourselves to the world by showing we’re the best.
Of course, there are benefits to this. But beginning to let go of the ego, being aware of its existence and allowing ourselves to step outside of the identity it has created can open us up to a whole new way of living. A way of living where rather than pandering to the ego and the string of emotional baggage it can bring, we simply embrace the idea of its falsehood.
And it’s this willingness to be ‘wrong’ about what we currently believe that can help us truly step into our greatness on both an individual and collective level. After all, is the aim in all this to be ‘right’, or is it to be happy?