My previous post centered on how to recognize when you’re wrong about something and the process to follow in those situations. I discussed the pitfalls of confirmation bias, and listed several tips on how to combat its persistent presence in your life. If you haven’t read the post or would like a refresher, feel free to check it out.
Handling the Realization You Were Wrong
After you realize that you were wrong about something–whether that process takes minutes, weeks, months, or years–you have a situation that you must deal with. You most likely spoke about this error before, or acted in a manner that was in accordance with it. And there were witnesses.
Immediately, that makes this situation a matter of personal pride.
We all have a problem with pride. Rather, pride tends to insert itself into all aspects of our lives, causing problems or worsening them. Recognizing when we’re wrong is practically a classic situation for pride to rear its ugly head.
Thankfully, since we’ve already made it to the point where we’re willing to accept the fact that we were wrong about something, we’re on the right path. As we continue down this road of dealing with a change in our perspective, let’s strive to keep humility at the forefront of all our responses, thoughts, and actions.
Considering the Implications
Now that we’ve recognized our error and are ready to correct it, we need to consider the implications such a change will have on everything that comes next. For anything more substantial than a realization that cows don’t actually produce chocolate milk, your new revelation is likely to have an affect on one or more areas of your life.
For example, if you discover that a news story accusing a public figure you supported were in fact true, there are implications for how you view that person, how you talk about them to others, how you view the news outlets that published the story in question (and perhaps news outlets that published counter-pieces)… and so on! And this is just over one public figure. Larger, deeper realizations can cause a cascade of implications for your relationships with your family, church, beliefs about God, and understanding of the world.
For this stage, it’s important to take the time you need to process and work through the variety of issues that will come up as you consider the facts you have encountered. Do not skip this step, lest you find yourself in a sea of contradictions, sooner or later. Do some research. Talk to others from a variety of viewpoints–remember that humility! Ask good questions and seek out the answers you need. Just don’t stay mired in “considerations” forever. You need to integrate what you’ve learned into your revitalized, broadened perspective.
Adjusting Your Perspective
Once you’ve spent the time needed to consider the implications and seek answers to questions that arise, a crucial step is to integrate all that you’ve learned into your worldview. How does what you’ve learned interact with other ideas, beliefs, thoughts, motivations, and actions in your life? None of our beliefs or understandings exist in isolation, so when any part changes, it’s important for us to intentionally fit it into the web of connected aspects of our lives.
This will likely not be accomplished in a moment. Changing your thought patterns and the way you view things is challenging because so much of what we think is ingrained within us.
In regards to this, Romans 12:2 says:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (ESV).
As you actively renew your mind, it will transform you, which will carry out into your actions.
Of all the steps to handling situations when you were wrong, this one is perhaps the “squishiest.” It tends to be the most intangible, and the hardest phase in which to make recognizable progress. However, I urge you, when you are wrong, take the time to walk through the implications this should have on other areas of your life. Don’t settle for slapping a bandaid on an issue that could have deep roots. Aim for a transformation in all the applicable areas, so you can walk forward, confidently, in the path of the truth.
The final phase we’ll look at next month is how to talk about this journey you’ve been through with someone else–from “small” situations like owning up to a factual error, to huge worldview shifts. In the meantime, let us know in the comments or on our social media: What are some ways you deal with the implications ideas have? What advice would you give to someone who just realized they were wrong about something?