My daughter is a perfect combination of the most stubborn parts of my husband and I. We are both stubborn and argumentative and are very RARELY wrong, and she has both of those parts of both of us making her the most correct person in the history of all time.
Well…let me back up a little bit. I used to be that way. I have gotten better and better over the years because I learned very quickly being married to someone like me, that it’s kinda annoying. Donnie has gotten better over the years too, but the nature of our personalities means that I was faster to reach the, “Okay. So sometimes I am wrong.” point of existence.
To which Donnie would snarkily reply, “That’s because she’s actually wrong more than I am, so it was easier for her to learn the lesson.”
So, now I’m seeing Nikki show those same stubborn tendencies and I’m trying to help her learn the lesson earlier than I did.
There is power in knowing you’ve been wrong before.
I used to be point blank in favor of – like – 100% of gun control measures I’d ever seen proposed. Even the ones factoring in mental health. And then I heard an interview with someone worried about how the “national database of crazy people” might be misused if it was established for these efforts. So, I’m now 99% supportive but I’m a little leery of the legislative language used in some proposals of widespread mental health records being used before issuing gun licenses. I was wrong with that 100%.
I was also – at first – against some of the legislation proposed to make changes in the US Department of Veterans Affairs – mainly because the democrats opposed it and I initially always side with that side of the argument. But then I listened to someone discuss that when a system has failed categorically on every front…sometimes you have to make radical changes to “start over” and the ability to get rid of people easier can help with that and THAT MADE SENSE. I listened to a conservative and a liberal discuss something and I sided with the conservative. I was wrong.
I’ve cited the times before where my language has been corrected. The embarrassing time I had to be told in my VERY EARLY adulthood that “oriental” should not be used to describe people. Then there was the time 10 years or so ago where I was informed of the offensiveness in some circles of my casual use of the word “retarded”. Both of those times were embarrassing but I learned from it and walked away saying, “I was wrong.”
And here’s where the power is: NO ONE IS RIGHT ALL OF THE TIME. No politician. No professional. No educator. No one. No where. Is right all the time. So, if you can’t list out times you were wrong, then you should be pretty certain you are wrong about something you don’t realize.
But you see, since I can easily cite times I’ve been wrong? I have MUCH MORE confidence about being right the rest of the time. I fear falling into the trap of cognitive dissonance or willful ignorance but each time I see that I’m wrong about something, I’m more confident I won’t fall into those traps.
I get into spiritual and political and social conversations with people with differing opinions quite often. Sometimes, I’m corrected. And every time that happens I’m embarrassed and it becomes one of those things that causes me retroactive shame every time I think about it. I HATE BEING WRONG. I had to be corrected about my own white privilege once on Facebook and it still embarrasses the crap out of me to think about it, but I thank the girl who helped me see the light every chance I get. BECAUSE…I remind myself of that moment whenever I worry I’m being biased to my own beliefs. “Kim, you had no problem admitting you were wrong that day, if you were wrong now, you would know.”
Because I see people time and time again frame things in a way that allow them to be right when I JUST CAN’T SEE IT. How can they look at it like that? How can they not see things how I see them?
And sometimes I worry I am that person. That willfully ignorant person.
BUT! Because I’ve been very open to being wrong in the past, I can be confident in present that I’m not willfully ignorant. Two people might be disagreeing because of fundamental differences of opinions. For example: I do not belief “life” begins at conception so certain types of birth control that prevent implantation are 100% not killing a baby. Whereas many fundamentalist Christian conservatives do believe life begins at conception and so therefore object to anything that keeps a fertilized embryo from implanting. In that case? The Right v/s Wrong is not clear because it’s just a fundamental difference in the definition of “life”.
But in many cases, I feel like people are willfully ignorant in order to hold fast to their views. And my past history of being able to (very begrudgingly) admit I’m wrong, gives me confidence in the fact that I’m not the willfully ignorant.
If you can never tell me a time you’ve been wrong about something? Then there might be a problem.
So that’s what I explain to Nikki. Every time she has to admit she was wrong, provides her with more confidence in the times she wants to stand her ground. If you’re willing to open your eyes to the possibility of being wrong, then you can trust your viewpoint when you feel SO VERY STRONGLY that you are right.
She’s not there yet. She’s very VERY stubborn.
But I’m hoping every time she sees/hears me admit I’m wrong, she’ll see the power in that. Learning the lesson over the years has really shown me THAT I AM WRONG A LOT. I’m feeling really guilty for the adult years before I was willing to admit I was wrong. WHAT A ASSHAT I WAS!
I’m certain there are still times I’m holding my ground when I shouldn’t be. But there are also many times where I can trust my viewpoint not to be too immovable because of the times I’ve been willing to see things from the other side. So if we still disagree, I can trust it’s a fundamental belief difference and not me simply being willfully ignorant or suffering from cognitive dissonance.