What If You're Wrong?


Do you have seasons or years of your life that you look back on and wonder “Who is that person?”
I can’t believe I used to do that, think that, work there.
I used to try and not care about anything as a teenager and young adult – when the truth was I actually cared way too much. I thought happiness was a destiny – not a choice. I thought love was something that just happened – not something that was worked for. I thought that being “cool” had to be practiced and learned from others rather than invented for oneself.
When I was a newlywed I believed that our love would overcome any marital obstacle in our way. That sex would just happen most evenings because we were married – and in love.
I also believed that credit was a good way to get what I wanted right away and the mountain of debt being created would go away when I made enough minimum payments. $20,000 in debt, a monthly payment of $38 – yeah, that maths works out.
Every step of the way it turns out I’ve been wrong. About almost everything. All throughout my life, I was flat-out wrong about myself, others, society, culture, the world, the universe, everything.
The odd thing is now I hope that will continue to be the case for the rest of my life.
Because when I compare Present Corey with Past Corey I see immediately that I’ve grown. I’ve learned new things. I’ve discarded old schemas that no longer work for my life and beliefs.
My daughter is getting into the world of High School Basketball and I’m working to impress upon her the idea that you only get better when you are willing to fail over and over again. Perhaps I need to remind myself of this message again.
We don’t want to hear we’re wrong, especially from our spouse who is supposed to love us – but it’s how we grow.
Far too often we categorize things in relationships and life as right or wrong. While there are things that definitely fit in these categories, most things probably don’t. Instead, what if you began taking the stance of wondering if your certainties are wrong?
This is another way of testing out your belief structure. While the certainties in life give us comfort and security – they also limit our possibilities.
Lots of our certainties are designed to give us moderate comfort now by mortgaging greater happiness later. This is a terrible long-term strategy. These are the certainties that keep us in place and out of touch. These are the certainties that drive people into despair, prejudice or radicalism.
Getting somewhere great in life and relationship has less to do with the ability to be right all the time and more to do with the ability to be wrong all the time. What are you wrong about today that can lead to your improvement?
So try it. Assume that you’re wrong — about everything. See where that takes you. Whatever you’re struggling with right now, practice some uncertainty. Ask yourself, “What if I was wrong about this?”
The answer to this question is actually the good news.
Because being wrong means change. Being wrong means improvement. It means change.
In five hundred years, people will point and laugh at how we let our money and our jobs define our lives. They will laugh at how we were afraid to show appreciation for those who matter to us most. They will laugh at our rituals and superstitions, our worries and our wars. They will gawk at our cruelty. They will study our art and argue over our history. They will understand truths about us of which none of us are even aware of yet.
And we will have been wrong about pretty much everything. Just as they will be wrong about everything too, albeit a little less wrong.
And maybe, possibly — hopefully! — they will look back on our world and think, “Wow, how did they live like that?”

*Adapted from Mark Manson