4 Steps in Perfecting the Art of Being Wrong

The other day, my wife asked for some bandaids to put on some blisters she got from her flipflops. I keep a private stash of super-adhesive bandaids for my frequent run-ins with the ground and other unforgiving surfaces. I got them from one of my drawers. I gave her the bandaids and told her to keep them, because I knew the blisters wouldn’t go away in a day.

The next day, she asked me where the bandaids were.

“I gave them to you,” I replied.

“Well, I don’t have them.”

“I distinctly remember giving them to you yesterday. I knew you’d need them, so I didn’t put them back.”

“Whatever…I don’t have them.” She ended up putting some major-surgery-sized bandaids over her tiny cuts.

I was slightly annoyed.  I vividly remember giving her the bandaids. I remember saying, “you take them.” I remember not taking them back. I remember the logic of not taking them back.

I am not a flake. I have a great memory. I remember peoples’ names at parties. I was not mistaken: I had given her the bandaids.

The next day I was looking through one of my drawers. I found the bandaids. I had not given them to her. I had not said “you take them”–or if I did, I had not given them to her. My memory had failed me. I was mistaken about what I was so certain about.

With this in mind:

  1. What are you so certain about? This could be any belief: that something is not going to work out, perhaps it’s something that caused an argument, where you placed the bandaids?
  2. Is it possible you are mistaken? Is it possible you memory, feelings, intuition, knowledge about this situation, might be failing you?
  3. How might you act if you weren’t so certain? Might you listen a bit closer to the other person? Might you entertain other possible outcomes to a situation? Might you ask for help should that be the case?
  4. Allow for the possibility of being wrong. If you find yourself getting defensive of defeated, ask yourself throughout the day, “What if I were wrong about this situation?”

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