Craft By Zen

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On Being Wrong

The Error of Arrogance

Most of my life has been driven on the idea that I’m right all of the time and that people who prove me wrong are just ignorant of my own view on why I’m right. I can name endless positions on how I thought I was doing the right thing by being on one side of an issue and sticking with that stance. One case was when I was a kid, and I accused my sister of stealing from me because she was caught red-handed on many accounts prior. This time, she really wasn’t at fault, but because I convinced myself that her prior actions justify that she did it again didn’t do me so good when I tried to convince my parents she stole from me again. My sister had concrete proof that I was wrong, and I should give up with the accusations because I lost this object on my own accord. Being as stubborn as I was, I decided to find proof that my sister was wrong, so I snuck in her room and looked all over the place for this object. I can’t say I was satisfied at all when I came up empty-handed.

Over a year ago, I watched a TED Talk by Kathyrn Schulz who talked about being wrong, and the psychological effects behind why we all convince ourselves we must be right. She has written a book on the subject as well as an accompanying blog. I became enthralled by this concept, and started actively noticing when this occurs and what I can do to change my behavior. Firstly, I do what I’ve always done before, which is listen to others talk, especially my peers. Patience is definitely a virtue, and in this case, I let my peers tell me what I’ve been saying or doing wrong with evidence (since I’m also a huge proponent of critical thought) and not interrupting. Then I take that advice and really look into what I’ve done and see the mistake. I take a note when I can of these mistakes (I write in a journal every day, so personal life note-taking has been a side hobby of mine).

I read this book by Daniel Kahneman called “Thinking, Fast and Slow” which delved into this topic even further. The Ted Talk he gave about memory and experience gives you a primer for what I’m talking about. Basically, many concepts in his book reaffirms why I do such things, as lie to myself that I’m right on a topic or a behavior. My faster thinking side (not actually literal) takes over the thought process of that “right action” and goes with it instead of questioning it. This makes perfect sense to me as I know there’s something lazy about questioning myself on these terms. For that reason, I’ve been stopping myself with specific actions and asking myself why I must think the way I do when the opportunity comes to show how “right” I am.

I hope I’ve given you all some insight on the way I deconstruct my own personal dilemma about thinking. I know it’s difficult to admit to yourself that you can be wrong, but we are all human beings, and I’m sure we can recognize when we make these mistakes and move on, and not ponder about why you must be right.

*I’m starting some on-again, off-again writing posts on my blog because I feel I want to express something. They may vary in length, and the topics will be very random. I really don’t care if anyone really likes them, I write for myself and it really helps me parse out my thought process.

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