Is it those brief moments of humiliation that shape our minds into believing that being wrong is bad? Are we subconsciously taught that being wrong should make us feel inferior to others? Why do we feel so awful when we get that answer wrong? Easy, because we are taught to. Once two different views are established –it becomes a game of conversational football. One of us plays offense – and the other defense.
Now I am sure there are many other experiences that continuously enforce the idea that “wrong is bad.” Parents sometimes tell their children their choices are “wrong” simply because it is not a choice that they would make themselves. How does this affect us as adults? Well, we become RIGHTERS. Self righteous crusaders who go about life trying to prove to others that everything we think, believe, or preach — is right. And what happens when someone disagrees with our version of right — we get defensive, and why shouldn’t we? We finally realize that we are adults and … who is going to tell US that what WE think is …wrong? Nobody.
I understand and fully accept the fact that it is in our nature to defend our viewpoints, but is there a way to defend them without taking it to a personal level? Why is questioning someone’s motives or thoughts all of a sudden an attack on who they are? I see this a lot in group conversations. Someone comments on a topic, another person disagrees and then all of a sudden that disagreement is seen as an attack. An attack that then becomes fueled by emotion, and once emotion takes over — it is all down hill from there.
The more emotional we are, the more defensive we become. Some would say once you become emotional over a subject, you lose credibility. Some would say emotion fuels our passions which leads us to believe we HAVE to be right and our viewpoints are the only ones that matter (CAN’T YOU SEE WHAT I AM TRYING TO SAY!) — Does emotion cloud our ability to really see views outside of our own? I am not sure.
Why can’t wrong be right? Why are we so hung up on the fact that we WANT, NEED, REQUIRE, that people agree with us? I think people have the ability to find common ground, and some people have their own opinions — and that is OK. IF all our friends and family thought exactly like us, liked all the same things, and did all the same activities, variety would not exist and we would just be — everyone else. Sidenote: I have also realized that I am lucky enough to have a very diverse group of friends. Different backgrounds, religions, education levels, races, sexual orientations, upbringing, generations & beliefs. We are a microcosm of what that world is at its best. Look around, you’ll see the older you get, the more rare it is to find groups of people who are CLOSE friends – who do not look, act, and think the exact same way.
Next time you find yourself in a heated conversation and you hear your voice start to rise, and that shrill sound is taking over our body, take a step back and think — is what I am about to say going to improve the silence, or if they aren’t going to agree with me, is there a reason for me to actually get defensive about that? Probably not. I can’t remember the last conversation I had with a group of my friends when at the end of the discussion, everyone was in agreement. Up until now, I never knew what a blessing that was — so instead of thinking offense verses defense — let’s appreciate that no matter what side we fall on, we are all on the same team.