The value of getting it wrong

No one likes to get it wrong (right?) Most of us tend to have an innate aversion to wrongness; to being wrong, getting it wrong. But why?

Think of a time when you got it wrong; what feelings went with that ‘wrongness’? Perhaps you felt frustrated or insecure, scared, angry, rejected or even shameful.

Not pleasant feelings.  Unpleasant or uncomfortable feelings tend to be at odds with our innate attachment schemas, or how we learn to formulate relationships. Attachment theory, in simple terms, means that we equate emotional security with survival on a very primal level. Anything that threatens this emotional security, such as ‘wrongness’, ‘failure’ ‘rejection’, is something we would naturally avoid feeling.

However, any time we avoid difficult feelings we paradoxically strengthen them, because we are reinforcing the fear that experiencing them is not survivable. Of course these feelings are survivable, but unconsciously we do not know this and by avoiding them, we land ourselves in familiar, painful patterns time and again.

However, any time we approach, rather than avoid, an uncomfortable feeling or scenario we are in the territory of change. We are teaching our unconscious that we can not only survive difficult feelings -such as wrongness- but we can thrive, change and transform.

Any time we avoid difficult feelings we paradoxically strengthen them because we are reinforcing the fear that experiencing them is not survivable.


 There is a saying ‘the healing is where the bruise is’. If we don’t tend to the bruise it can’t heal; we just keep bumping it, unconsciously. The truth is we can’t avoid wrongness. It is normal to have difficult, seemingly intolerable feelings provoked in us. The trick is being able to be with them, to learn that they are survivable, to be curious, rather than reactive.

Besides, ‘wrongness’ is much unjustly maligned. Think of a time in the past you got it wrong. What happened? What happened after that? Now think of a time recently you felt ok; good even, happy perhaps. How did that wrong turn in the past contribute to the person you are now?  Did it inform you for the better?

What would it be like if we could embrace our mistakes; explore rejection, engage with insecurity, befriend our shame, fraternize with failure? What would it be like if we could approach, rather than avoid ‘wrongness’? Who knows what transformation it might bring…

‘Fail again, fail better’. Samuel Beckett