Think You’re Right? Ask Yourself These Questions to Be Sure

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You’re wrong about almost everything

Do you think you’re right? Of course, you do! “The other person is wrong!” Or so you think.

Slow down though. Before coming to hasty conclusions, you need a little more introspection.

Our ego often takes the best of us. It is difficult to get out of the traps of the ego to see things clearly.

The truth waits for eyes unclouded by longing — Anonymous

We think the reality around us is objective. But in fact, it’s anything but that. The events and circumstances happening around us are filtered through our emotions, feelings, and past experiences to form a reality inside our minds.

Which is why your reality and perceptions are totally different from mine.

Having lost a huge amount of money can make some people go nuts or it can make them learn the value of adversity and frugality, only to get up even stronger than before.

Why? Because they see things differently. Their past experiences guide their conclusions.

Ultimately this causes us to live a life where we’re centered on ourselves, not thinking about the larger picture.

Part of it is natural when you’re growing up, but as you mature, you need to understand how little your importance is in the larger picture. Why you’re not as significant as you think.

You’re not as good looking as you think. You’re not as bad as you think.

Gradually the aim is to go about life removing the word ‘me’ from it. And the only way to overcome the thought of your own righteousness is to realize you’re wrong.

It takes tons of practice and humility.

One of the best ways to do it is through deliberate introspection about your own flaws and mistakes. And since we’re all wrong about almost everything, there’s always something you can gain from this practice.

In my efforts to remove myself from the equation and be a little less certain of myself, I turned to the three questions that Mark Manson gives in his book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Question #1: What If I’m Wrong?

The other day I got upset with my mom for playing music on the speakers while I was meditating. I attend online Sunday morning meditations with my spiritual group at 9 am.

Being upset, angry, and irritated, I couldn’t meditate properly.. Naturally, the session went haywire. This was not the first time this happened.

I’ve lashed out on other moments for the same reason. But this time, I asked myself, “What if I’m wrong?”

What if my mom needs to relax on Sundays and hear the music. What if it’s the only day she gets to kick off some steam. Who am I to tell her to stop?

I then realized two things.

First, as it turns out, it’s not the best time to meditate in the first place. Everyone in my house is up at that time and all sorts of activities are taking place. It’s not fair to ask everyone to shut up and suspend their plans just because I need the silence to meditate.

Second, I calmly spoke to her about this and she agreed to considerably reduce the volume which I could live with.

It’s a petty example, but we need to practice this in the small things first. These questions need to become a mental habit because just the act of asking it generates the necessary humility needed to solve the problem.

Question #2: What Would It Mean If I Were Wrong?

Mark really got me with this question.

While we all can entertain the thought of our flaws, few can go deeper and assess the values behind it that make it happen in the first place.

If you get upset when someone cuts you off on the road, then it means you’re giving yourself much more importance than you deserve. Usually, the reason behind it is straight insecurity and narcissism.

In my case, for example, I believed that I’m a magical person just for having a meditation habit and the whole world should shift its axis to support me in my efforts.

Notice a pattern? Most problems arise because you’re thinking about yourself. Because your values make you believe so.

It’s easy to shrug it off and not think about it. After all, what’s wrong in asking others in my house to maintain a little silence?

Judging yourself is not easy. But for those who can do it objectively for, there’s a huge opportunity for growth.

It’s difficult because it hurts. Admitting that you’re entitled/insecure/self-centered hurts. But as Ray Dalio says, “Pain + Reflection = Progress.”

Question #3: Would Being Wrong Create a Better or Worse Problem Than It Already Is?

Problems are never-ending. They are a fact of life. There’s no decision you can make or no action you can take that’ll make them disappear.

You can however choose which problems you want to take on by fixing your values.

Let’s see what choices I had and what problems they created in each case:

Choice #1: Continue blaming others for not understanding my goals in life and changing themselves accordingly. This would go on for years because in general, it is difficult to convince people to avoid what they like just because you don’t like it. I would ruin my relationships with the people close to me.

Choice #2: Understand where my anger is coming from. Realize that others will not change their lifestyle to adjust to my schedule and then working from there to see how I can create a win-win situation. It would also create a problem of fixing my own beliefs and amending my own actions.

Now, which of this is a better problem to have?

The second one of course. Because it creates harmonious relationships and helps me improve in the long run.

Instead of fighting the world, I learn to live with it. If it seems like the whole world is against you, most likely, you’re against yourself.

Closing Thoughts

The simple goal of this exercise is to realize that you can be wrong. In fact, you’ll be wrong a helluva lot.

Don’t hate yourself just because you’re wrong. Sometimes you can be right too. But acknowledging that you’re not Mr. Know-it-all makes life much easier for you and the people around you.

And if I’m wrong, you’re wrong, how do we know who’s right?

We don’t. That’s the punchline.

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Written on August 8, 2020