How to Teach Yourself to Admit Your Mistakes

How to deal with cognitive dissonance and to save one’s dignity?

No matter how hard you try, sometimes you are wrong. Admitting your mistakes is not easy, that’s why you sometimes continue to stubbornly prove your mind and to stand your ground instead of hearing the truth. Writers from want to share their opinion on the topic, and to help you learn to admit your mistakes.

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance

Your will to confirm your own viewpoint makes you seek and find proofs of your being right, even if there are no such proofs. In this situation, you feel something psychologists call as “cognitive dissonance”. This is a discomfort coming from clash of your controversial thoughts and knowledge about your own personality.

Let’s think that you know you are a good person. After you were rude according to somebody, you feel very uncomfortable. In order to get through this feeling, you start denying your being wrong and looking for excuses for your rudeness.

Why Humans Don’t Let their Fallacies Go

Stubborn Face

Cognitive dissonance means danger to your perception of your own “self”. In order to lower the discomfort, you have two ways to go:

  • - Changing your mind about yourself;
  • - Admitting that you were wrong.

Of course, people mostly choose the way of no resistance.

Maybe, you will try to get rid of discomfort through finding how to explain your mistake. Psychologist Leon Festinger claimed his cognitive dissonance theory in the middle of XIX century, while he was studying a small religious community. Members of this community believed the End of the World to happen on December 20-th, 1954. Later in his book, Festinger described that after the apocalypse prediction did not come true, community members continued keeping up to their beliefs and stated, that God just decide to have mercy on humans. This was the explanation that helped them deal with cognitive dissonance.

Dissonance feeling is very unpleasant, and a person always tries to get rid of it. When asking for an excuse, they admit their being wrong and accept dissonance. This is not that easy.

According to researches, being stubborn about the delusion, the person often feels better than if they admit they were wrong. Scientists noticed those who refuse to apologize for their mistakes to suffer of lowering self-esteem, loss of authority and control upon the situation. This can’t be said about those who admit they were wrong and ask for an excuse.

When looking for an apology, you metaphorically give the other person a power to excuse you and to get the bad feeling off you. Or they can to refuse acceptance of your excuses and to make you suffer more seriously. Those who decide not to apologize feel power and strength first.

This feeling of the might seems to be quite attractive, but in a long-term perspective it causes unpleasant consequences. When refusing to apologize for your mistakes, you inflict trust relationships stand on with danger, you prolong the conflict, collect aggression and feed your thirst for revenge.

Refusing to admit mistakes, you deny constructive criticism that helps you to get rid of bad habits and to become better.

Another research of Stanford scientists showed, that people are more likely to take responsibility or their misses when they’re sure in their ability to change own behavior. But this feeling doesn’t come that easy.

How to Teach Yourself to Admit Mistakes

Mistake Admitted

First, you need to learn how to determine your cognitive dissonance signs. As a rule, they are:  confusion, stress, non-proper mental balance or guilt feeling. These feelings do not obligatory mean you are wrong. But they are marks of that, you better look at the situation objectively, and to see if you are right or not.

It is worth learning your usual excuses and explanations. Remind yourself of the situations when you were wrong and you knew about that, but you tried to justify yourself in this or that way. Remember what you felt when you tried to find rational reasons for your doubtful behavior. When these feelings come next time, think about them as of indicators of cognitive dissonance.

Don’t forget that people are likely to excuse more often than they seem to do. Honesty and objectiveness tell about you as a person that is open and worth dealing with.

In situations when you surely are wrong, you demonstrate lack of self-confidence if you refuse admitting this fact. Those who stand for their delusions with rage, cry about their weakness. 

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