It’s okay to admit you were wrong

Katianna Mansfield

More stories from Katianna Mansfield

I am okay now
February 16, 2018

Cleaning off a table late one night, I overheard my favorite Sunday-night regular and his two-year-old son talking about the difference between good boys and bad boys. The little cutie had asked what I was doing and why I wasn’t over there with him, and his father talked to him about the importance of working hard in society and how I can’t always be there because I have a job to do.

They determined that the boy had made a mistake, and this small kid that has the biggest smile I’ve ever seen in my life said a little sadly, “Bad boys make mistakes.” My heart plummeted. But within seconds, his father saved him. He said, “Good and bad boys can make mistakes. But do you know what the difference between a good and a bad boy is? Good boys admit to their mistakes and never do them again.”

I listened to this with tears in my eyes and my entire rib cage in my throat, and it put a little chip in my brain like a little missing fragment on one of your mom’s nice bowls. It’s a small chip, but I would like to entirely remove that piece.

Recently, more than I ever have before, I’ve noticed in people the impossible need to appear perfect to everyone else outside of themselves. It is this thought stuck inside our heads that gets us to lie and deceive, to angrily defend ourselves to the ends of the earth and never admit we are wrong.

One of the most important virtues I ever learned is that it takes a much stronger person to admit to one’s mistakes rather than refuse to believe they are there.

Go back to the last time you had an argument with someone and told somebody else about what was happening. Maybe arguing with a family member, a disagreement with a significant other, fighting with a friend. How did your demeanor change when you were talking to the person you were arguing with versus when you went to tell someone else about it? If I get into an aggravated discussion with someone I’m close to and then one of the other people in my life ask about it because it’s affecting me, I completely change my mindset. I go from being angry and irrational and quick-witted to trying to defend my reasoning.

I want the other person to understand me, to see me as the one least at fault. So I leave things out; I undermine the impact of what I might have said on the other person, I emphasize and focus on how they hurt me. Instead of explaining both sides, I only give mine. And I know I’m in the wrong because when I go to talk about it, I recoil. I try to find a better way to say what I really said, what I actually did. I try to explain my way of thinking or opinion in a different way than I explained it to them.

This is the fault of man.

The idea that we have to be perfect and make other people like us to be reassured that we are right even if we are wrong. We refuse to accept that we did something bad, and if we know inside our hearts that we did, we don’t want to admit to it.

I have realized this and noticed it inside myself, and I want to work to get rid of it. I want to be able to admit I was wrong right then when it is valuable. It is good to admit to mistakes no matter how long the time period waited, but I think apologizing for wrongdoing as it happens is a good skill to build. Relationships and trust mend far better when people acknowledge the other person’s feelings and realize their own faults.

I personally challenge you to do one thing within the next few days: think of something you’ve done wrong. Really think about it. Let yourself believe that it was wrong, that you were out of line. Think of something you told someone that wasn’t necessarily true just to protect your image. If you want, go even further and admit it to these people that you were wrong. Chances are, they have some things to admit too.

Remind yourself that it’s okay to be wrong, that the difference between a good boy and a bad boy is that good boys admit to their mistakes, and they never do them again.