8 situations in life where the hardest thing to do is admit you were wrong

“Um…

“Yeah…

“So…

“I got that wrong.”

Ouch.

(Right?!)

We all get it wrong sometimes. Often spectacularly. It’s the most human of experiences.

So why do we find being wrong so hard to admit to?

Let’s look at these classic situations in which it’s extra-hard to own up to our errors. Then we can find out why and how to change that. So, the hardest thing to do is admit you were wrong when…

1) You’re usually the ‘expert’ in the room, office, family

You may have built part of your identity on your strengths, knowledge and skills. Over time, this has given you a lot of self-esteem and worthiness, as well as attention and appreciation from others.

Perhaps being great at fixing things or an awesome party planner gives you a clear role in a friendship group. Perhaps being kind or empathetic makes you feel valued in your family. And knowing all about marketing or technical specs is great currency in the office.

And then… urgh. You make a mistake. A big one. And you’re not presenting as the expert anymore.

Being of value to others through our expertise and skills is all good, healthy stuff, but… When we’re too attached to how others see us, it gets unhealthy. The ego needs us to be seen in a certain way.

That’s when, Houston, we have a problem, and we find we can’t admit we were wrong, or we can, but it just about kills us.

That’s especially the case when…

2) The person you’ve been ‘wrong’ with is not the gracious type

So, you know the feeling… You know you need to admit you were wrong about something. You’re cringing and wanting to curl up and die. And you’re not even at the meeting or event yet.

Maybe everyone at the family christening is going to be joking about how you messed up, and worse, teasing you about it.

Or maybe there will be silent disapproval or a horrible feeling of being shunned and scapegoated.

When people or groups of people are not emotionally generous with you (and by that I mean kind, patient and compassionate) you don’t want to open up and bare your soul. Why would you?

Interestingly, loving, kind people can also bring this response out in us when…

3) The person you’ve been ‘wrong’ with is someone you want to impress

Yeah… so this goes both ways. This person may be a new partner, a junior co-worker, or an inspiring boss.

They may be a family member who thinks we are really rather brilliant. And our ego would like to keep it that way, thank you very much.

So it’s easier to kind of let the fact that we were wrong slip by, if at all possible. Or we play it down, justify it or laugh it off.

The kicker is that we’re damaging our rapport with that treasured person in our lives when we don’t admit that we’re wrong, apologize and be accountable for our mistakes.

We’re not preserving the relationship. No. We’re actually increasing the distance between that person and ourselves. We’re chipping away at the intimacy that helps the relationship thrive. We’re setting impossible standards for ourselves… and them.

Yes, we’re great, and they’re great, and we’re all human, and we mess up. Let’s drop the ‘perfect’ act, liberate ourselves and judge each other less when we stuff up.

Let’s judge ourselves less too… Which brings me to…

4) The revelation about your ‘wrongness’ hits your ego hard

Eeeek! What the heck?! How on earth did you end up getting it so wrong?

You thought you were a nicer person that this.

You thought you knew yourself better than this.

You thought you’d got a great handle on your emotions.

Put bluntly, you thought that, in this situation, you’d behave with grace and dignity, and not selfishly, viciously or with prejudice.

An inner shockwave goes through us when we have a less-than-flattering self-realization – and that can hit the ego hard.

I have one word to say about that.

Good.

Yep. I know it doesn’t feel good, but remember the old adage – if you’re uncomfortable, you’re growing.

However, sometimes it’s important to be gentle with ourselves, especially when…

5) You have triggers around blame

Sometimes, admitting you’re wrong will mean taking ‘the blame’.

Depending on what kind of upbringing and life experiences you’ve had, taking ‘the blame’ threatens your basic feeling of safety in life.

It means being at the mercy of self-serving, unkind people. ‘They’ want to see you fail. They constantly compete with you. They make you the cause of all their own problems and issues.

That sounds awful, doesn’t it? Like living in a horror movie, or a nightmare.

If you’ve been brought up in a family that played fast and loose with blame, this may be the trauma-based reality you’re still living inside yourself.

For more on this, see the brilliant book The Body Keeps the Score by trauma and neuroscience expert Bessel Van Der Kolk M.D.

This goes hand in hand with…

6) You have a strong sense of shame

people who have low self worth behaviors 8 situations in life where the hardest thing to do is admit you were wrong

Firstly, this isn’t your fault. If you grew up living the ‘blame’ nightmare, you’re going to struggle with strong feelings of shame around admitting you were wrong, and around actually being wrong too.

Even if we came from a healthy family system, most of us have some degree of shame-bound emotion around admitting we were wrong. For more info about toxic shame see attachment theory expert Heidi Priebe’s great video.

7) There’s a lot at stake

When the stakes are high, our basic sense of safety is more deeply rattled, so we’ll think twice before making ourselves vulnerable and admitting we were wrong.

We may even go into total denial and hide the fact we were wrong from ourselves even!

We may waste time justifying our behavior and blaming others for ‘making us’ feel or behave in certain ways.

What’s beneath that? Simple. Primal. FEAR.

8) You’re scared to be vulnerable

When the fear really gets going, thanks to our limbic system (which governs our ‘fight or flight’ response) vulnerability often goes out of the window.

Which is great if a saber-toothed tiger is chasing us.

But… only route to true freedom, peace and alignment with yourself, is through… vulnerability itself.

Vulnerability is the strongest, truest, deepest strength we can embody and practice.

And, yes, it’s the one thing that will get our ego leaping around, sabotaging you, blocking you, lying to you and doing everything it can to get back in the driving seat and feel safe and powerful again.

But it’s got the wrong end of the stick about true empowerment. True empowerment is vulnerability, openness and intimacy with others.

Sounds good, right? We want that. It’s the ‘solution’ to finding it hard to admit we were wrong, and to finding it hard to be wrong at all.

But how do we open up to more of it? Let’s dive into that now…

Firstly, what does being vulnerable actually mean?

It means sharing your true feelings about a relationship or subject with those close to you, without blaming or shaming them. And without expecting them to give you a certain response.

You don’t do it for that. You do it because it’s healthy for you to have needs and desires in the relationship, and it’s healthy (and only fair!) to communicate them with kindness and love.

Is it always wise to be vulnerable?

No. It’s not an ideal world, and some people are not (or not yet) equipped to hold space for your vulnerability.

Sticking your head in a shark’s mouth and then wondering why it ends up like a scene from Jaws isn’t the answer.

That love and compassion we hold for others is something we need to hold equally for ourselves too. That way our boundaries come into play, and then, hallelujah, we’re moving into happy, secure, healthy territory.

Which in turn means…

We can change the way we see ‘admitting’ we were ‘wrong’

Even the word ‘admitting’ has a grudging, defensive feeling about it. Like it’s a hard thing to do.

And often, for the reasons above, it really is.

And that’s okay. Go easy on yourself – we are where we are.

But…

What if you saw admitting you were wrong as ‘admitting’ you are growing?

As owning that you’re maturing and changing and, yep, evolving as a person?

What if you see ‘mistakes’ as learning opportunities? As chances to expand your self-concept, your world view and your knowledge? And more importantly, to tap into your deeper wisdom and your humility.

What if you even flipped the whole thing, and ‘admitting’ that you were ‘wrong’ came to mean ‘embracing’ that you are ‘growing’?

If we all did that, or even worked towards it, our lives would change in a minute. Our true self-esteem would sky-rocket. Our wisdom and humility (true super-powers!) would deepen. Our relationships would be enriched.

And that’s a win for growth, for evolution, for self-love and for all humanity!

Picture of Kelly Mckain

Kelly Mckain

I’m Kelly McKain, the author of over sixty fiction titles – my latest is The Feeling Good Club , a mindfulness series for kids. I love writing, yoga, horses, dancing and spending time in nature – as well as hanging out with my amazing kids and partner. I’m also a qualified Breathwork Facilitator and the founder of Soulsparks , a platform for intuitive guidance, energy healing and exploring non-duality. You can find me on Facebook and Instagram .

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