I like being right.
When I was a kid I was drawn to the sciences and other subjects that lacked ambiguity, where there was a right answer and a wrong answer.
Perhaps because of this, I’m skeptical about pretty much everything. I accept nothing at face value. I double check the information I read on Wikipedia. Once, I literally woke up from a nap in the middle of somebody else’s conversation, because apparently my subconscious wanted to argue with a point they were making.
I really like being right.
But the desire to be right does have its drawbacks. Especially when it comes to learning anything to do with movement.
You see, in a way, learning is an act of courage. To learn, we have to put ourselves in a position where our mistakes, some that we don’t even realise we’re making, are on display. We have to let our teachers
judge see us, to note these errors, so that they can help us to get better. Worst of all, we don’t even get a chance to defend ourselves or make excuses.
How do we deal with this injustice?
Well for a start, we could all do a much better job of understanding that being wrong, making mistakes and feeling unsure, are all essential aspects of the learning process. If we didn’t ever feel this way, we’d never really learn anything. We’d just go to a class, be convinced we’d nailed it on the first try, and carry on with our perfect, error free, deluded lives.
Teachers too, can work harder to create an environment of experimentation and exploration when they teach. One where being right isn’t as important as being engaged. Results do matter, but a student tripping over themselves worrying about making mistakes is much less likely to get them.
We can learn to be patient with ourselves. We can learn not to fixate on details beyond the level we’re currently at. We can learn to stop expecting perfection in the moment, without losing the courage to aim for it in the future.
But most importantly, we can accept that being right is an illusion. As F.M. Alexander put it;
We can’t ever know when we’re right, we can only know when we’re wrong.
And though this knowledge doesn’t make being wrong any less frustrating, the reality is that deep down we know that no matter how good it might make us feel, or how clever it can make us seem, we’re lying to ourselves when we claim to have everything figured out.
Right is permission to stop being curious, to stop listening, to stop learning. Right is the single greatest threat to our growth. Right is an end point. And we can never be certain we’ve reached the end, all we can do is learn to enjoy the journey.