Thursday, October 13, 2005

Being Wrong

I think everyone hates being wrong. In fact in psychological terms when are feelings are not affirmed and are in fact, denigrated, it is called being made wrong and then we feel small. When I talk about being wrong, I am talking about the idea that we think we know something but our knowledge is faulty. We still hate it when that comes out, unless we are actively trying to make sense of something. When we are discussing things with others and we state something, we hate it when other people prove us wrong.

I'm a great one for that. I hate to be wrong. At the same time I realize that part of the problem with being wrong is that we become attached to the fact that our way of thinking is correct. When we are wrong about big things, it can force us to change our very world view. We become attached to that world view and we don't like the idea that it might be wrong. If it's wrong, then what else are we wrong about? Our whole theory of the way we, life and our world works can come falling down.

I think about the attachment part and realize that the Buddhists say that attachment is the source of all suffering. We think of attachments so often as attachments to things. Yet how much more do we suffer when we become attached to an ideal or ideal and that gets proved to be based on faulty information? Beliefs and ideas are rather amorphous and so we don't think about being attached to them, yet many of us are very attached to them. How then do we react when someone doesn't agree and may even present a point of view that goes against ours? We become very defensive and perhaps angry. We feel off balance.

We need to realize that an idea or belief is just that. It is something that we may have become to attached to and we need to let it go or let it change as it needs to as we learn new things. We are not our belief or our ideas. We are more than that. Learning to be at peace with ourselves means learning to accept that some of our deeply held ideas may get "proved" wrong by other people or by new circumstances. We suffer when this happens and we refuse to let go of the idea. If we can move on and move with the idea and incorporate our new found information into a larger world view, we may find that our original idea isn't gone but merely enlarged. If we try to hang onto it against all odds, we may find that we loose it altogether.

I think we often get so attached to ideas, more so than people, that it's unfortunate that we don't talk more about the problems associated with attachment to our own ideas and our own ways of looking at the world.

Next time we realize we are defending ourselves against being wrong, let's remember that.


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