I don’t think anyone enjoys being wrong. Its usually an unpleasant experience for us all. But what matters is how we respond when we find out that we were wrong about something? It could be something trivial and unimportant or it could be something very serious that has had negative consequences for people around us. How do we react when we are wrong?
Some of us may admit we’re wrong and apologize for it right away. Some people prefer to imply that they were wrong but don’t explicitly admit that they were wrong to the point where the other person is satisfied. And some people flat out refuse to admit they were wrong, even when they are faced by overwhelming evidence and it seems ridiculous to the other people involved.
The first two scenarios (when people admit they’re wrong, or at least kind of admit they were wrong) are more familiar to most of us. Those are typical responses that people have when they are wrong. They accept responsibility fully or partially and don’t refute actual facts.
But there are times when some people push back even against facts. Why can’t they admit that they were wrong even when it is obvious and all of the circumstantial evidence proves it? This person often refuses to accept that they were wrong repeatedly in all forms of different scenarios. Something in their psychological makeup prevents them from admitting that they were wrong.
It turns out that psychological rigidity is not a sign of strength. People who can’t ever admit that they are wrong usually have a very fragile ego. A self-esteem that is so brittle and weak that a mistake or being proved wrong about something is fundamentally too threatening for their self to tolerate. Accepting a mistake or being wrong would crush their self-esteem and therefore their defense mechanisms come to the rescue and sometimes distort their perception of reality to make it seem that they were right all along, in turn creating an environment that is less threatening to their self-esteem. The defense mechanisms of such people protect their egos by changing the very facts in their minds!
People with such temperaments seem to double down and repeat their ‘believed’ version of events or reality over and over. Such people will insist that their factually incorrect perception of reality is the real version and everyone else is wrong, including all evidence presented no matter how compelling it may be. People who exhibit this kind of behavior are psychologically fragile.
The irony is that such people sometimes seem tough and strong because they confidently stand their ground and refuse to back down. In reality this is an indication of weakness. These people are not standing their ground by choice, they have no other options and must stick with their version of reality in order to protect their weak and brittle egos. Admitting a mistake is always a dent on the ego and it requires some emotional courage and strength to deal with the fact that we were wrong. Some people end up sulking a little bit and eventually move on.
Weak people, however, have a lot of difficulty admitting that they were wrong. Their constitution isn’t capable of handling the fact that they were capable of making a mistake. They aren’t able to sulk and move on – it is easier for them to warp their version of reality and defend their ground by pretending they were right all along.
It is up to us to choose how we respond to such people. Different people could have different strategies and reactions to such people. The one thing we should all keep in mind is that we should recognize that this behavior is a sign of weakness and should not be mistakenly thought of as strength. People who are psychologically weak and fragile are forced to behave in such a manner.