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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 29-Mar-18


Sunday 29-April-18

The momentum of wrong and the courage of change

Sometimes we make decisions, which results in us saying and doing certain things. At the time it seems right, but later may turn out to be not such a good idea, yet we still keep thinking and saying those things.

It is as if we are trapped by our past, unable to rethink using the new knowledge we now have. In this way, things that are inefficient, ineffective and just plain wrong, acquire momentum. They even seem to gain a life of their own, effectively ruling us as we feel unable to change.

Often, while habit may contribute, the underlying psychological cause is our need for consistency. If I say black is white, then to change and say white is white would be inconsistent. When we are inconsistent, we send a message that we are incompetent and cannot be trusted. We fear that people would respect us less if we were inconsistent, and push us down the social order. And so we continue to assert that black is white.

Yes, we may also lose respect for being so clearly wrong, but this seems less important than having to admit we have been wrong for so long. Like Pinocchio, we dig ourselves a hole that gets ever more difficult to escape.

Climbing out of a wrong hole takes courage. It also needs compassion. We must forgive ourselves for becoming entrapped, and a simple way is to realize we are only human and to feel good about being courageous. It can help if others are compassionate too, rather than rubbing our noses in our past wrongs, yet we must not fall into the further trap of fear that could keep us in the hole. With courage, we can apologize, admit our errors, commit to change and then make and sustain that change.

A good habit is to watch ourselves, dispassionately and compassionately, noticing tensions that may stem from inconsistencies. Then, when we find such issues, looking for ways to put them right. Yes, it may hurt for a while, but the real and lasting result is that we will gain greater integrity and consequent trust and respect from others.

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