Do you fear being wrong? That fear is normal. With a little understanding and simple habits, you can manage that fear. You can become more confident. Your mind will become clearer. Moreover, you will make better decisions and respond more effectively to the people around you.
The Origin of our Fear
Conditioned from the crib, we learn that we can get approval when give the correct answers and take the right actions. Likewise, as we go through school and our careers, giving the most correct answers leads to greater approval and greater success.
Fear of Disapproval
On the other hand, we learn that wrong answers and incorrect actions lead to less approval and less success. Fear of making mistakes and being incorrect is as uncomfortable as any other fear.
However, making mistakes doesn’t always create fear. For example, when we are alone and pick up the wrong item on the grocery shelf, we simply put the item back on the shelf. In this case, no one is watching. No one is approving or disapproving our actions.
So, the issue fear of being wrong is really the fear of disapproval. The best example is the fear of public speaking.
Steps to Calmness
These are some things that allow me to return to calmness when I feel afraid after making a mistake.
Breathe. A deep breath is the easiest way to begin to burn the rush of adrenaline that we feel when feel anxious or afraid.
Accept our mistake. So, we make a mistake. We learn from our mistake. We say to ourselves and perhaps to the people around us, “Well, I won’t do that again.”
See the influence of our hidden bias. I heard a woman say, “It is easy for me to believe my own BS, because I’ve always heard it.” So, we can open the door allow ourselves to see the flaws in our thinking. And opening that door is okay. We give ourselves the opportunity to grow and learn new things. Moreover, we relieve ourselves of the pressure of having to be perfect. Opening our mind to the possibility that another person may be right takes less effort than inwardly and outwardly defending our position on what we believe to be true. We can relax and listen. We can have a discussion instead of a debate.
Accept the fact of disapproval. If a person disapproves of our mistakes, we don’t have to admit to ourselves or to that the other person that we are wrong. We can just accept that it is okay for the other person to see things differently.
Pause before responding. As we process what has happened, we give our minds a chance to clear and help us see the best response.
Listen and learn. If other people are involved, we can help them see that we want to do things correctly. But first, listen to what they have to say. Learn what response they are of expecting.
Realize that we can correct many of our mistakes. This realization can help us find calmness. Additionally, this calmness can help us do things correctly going forward.
Forgive ourselves. Don’t allow ourselves to carry guilt. The feeling just burdens us mentally and emotionally.
Later, if we find that we were in fact right, we can keep that information to ourselves. We can allow the people the right to continue to believe in their thinking.