Naturally, when you come across conflicts in life, when people hurt you or act badly, you want to understand what the hell happened and why.
No conflict in life happens when everyone behaves sensibly, is equally willing to communicate, cooperate and understand what others are thinking, feeling and dealing with. We are all to blame at different times for acting unreasonably, whether we realize it or not.
Part of making sense of a situation involves assigning accountability. Who’s right? Is everyone a little right? Is anyone a little more right than someone else?
You wonder if it’s you that has a serious problem, even if it’s just because of the types of people you attract or behaviors you allow around you. With 1 in 4 people in the US suffering from a mental disorder in any given year, you wonder how close you might be to some serious issues, and also, if whoever is causing trouble around you might be dealing with something beyond selfishness or bad manners.
If you’ve ever looked at WebMD or similar, you know how easy it is to conclude the headache you’ve had since early afternoon is a sure sign you’ll be dead by midnight. It’s no different when it comes to mental disorders (or illnesses, same thing). When I was in my psychology masters program, I had every disorder on record, as did everyone else.
Granted, the DSM-V has very specific guidelines when it comes to diagnoses, however, there’s no shortage of controversy there either. Concerns over ambiguities, “medicalizing” normal aspects of behavior, limiting diagnostic codes and many other issues abound.
Although my father was not a psychiatrist, because he was a doctor, we would occasionally discuss things related to mental health. He didn’t say it in exactly these words, but his answer to my exasperated layman’s questions about wellness was pretty much this: “we’re all crazy, but the surest sign that you’re not so crazy is your willingness to accept that you might be wrong and try to fix things.”
So yes, that willingness to be wrong is quite the symptom of wellness. If you look at the literature on relationships, from parenting to office management to couples, you’ll see one of the core behaviors that predicts wellness and success is the willingness to be wrong.
And it’s not politeness, certainly not weakness or even the gift of an easy-going nature.
When you’re willing to be wrong, your focus is on someone else’s well being, your ego is in check, and you’re not looking for validation, but to make things work for everyone involved.
You may still be judging, but your priority is to contribute, not take away. You may feel uneasy, have your own set of insecurities and worries, but you are confident enough in yourself to accept your flaws and mistakes, even if you don’t always understand exactly what they are at a given time or how they manifest.
It doesn’t matter that someone else might be to blame for whatever the issue is. What matters is that you step up and instead of putting others down, you lift them up.
So yes, the willingness to be wrong, also known as ‘being the bigger person’ is a very good thing. No matter how crazy you may feel at times, how upset, hurt and outraged by whoever’s contribution to a conflict, if you can step back and say “hey, i might be wrong here, how can I make it better”, you’re ok. More than ok.