The Good News about Being Wrong

No one likes making mistakes or (even worse) admitting them. But there’s wisdom and resilience to be gleaned by learning to accept and acknowledge when you are wrong.

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We all like to be right, right? Whether it’s confirming we’ve found the fastest route through the city, knowing the best yoga class, or standing up for what we are sure is the right side of an important principle, being right is an enticing bonbon that can make us feel deliciously certain—for a while. But if your goal is to navigate your life more skillfully and perhaps even develop some wisdom, you may find it helpful to admit that sometimes you’re uncertain, sometimes you don’t know the answer, and sometimes you’re just plain wrong.

What’s Wrong with Being Wrong?

Years ago, I worked for a professional choir. The conductor told everyone that, during rehearsals, if you sang a wrong note, you should acknowledge it by raising and lowering your hand while you keep singing. In other words, you were allowed to be wrong. It didn’t have to hold you up, or get you down, or be more than a quick flick of the hand. Since then I have often wished for the simplicity of this relatively painless way to make a mistake without viewing it as a mortifying mess. 

But more often we turn to defensiveness and denial. “I didn’t…

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