In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the power of admitting you are wrong and the dangers of claiming infallibility.
First a quick update:
**** Dating success or failure; body language secrets? – How can you tell if your date is going well? Read the article where I reveal the seven signs that your date is really into you and the seven signs when your date is not into you: http://www.datingwebsites.org/2011/11/datingwebsites-org-body-language-expert-panel/
**** How to survive The Holidays & Holiday stress – Are you looking for tips and strategies about how avoid
Holiday stress and arguments, read my two articles -
“Easing Holiday Stress” and “Avoiding Holiday Arguments”:
Now, let’s talk about the damage of trying to be infallible causes and why admitting when you are wrong improves relationships.
Whom do you think of when you read this quote and description?
“The world has come to know [him] for his insatiable greed for power, his ruthlessness, cruelty and utter lack-of feeling, his contempt for established institutions and his lack of moral restraints.”
And whom do you think of when you read this quote and description?
“His primary rules…: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”
And what about this description?
“Those who surround him are the first to admit that he now thinks himself infallible and invincible. That explains why he can no longer bear either criticism or contradiction. To contradict him is in his eyes a crime of ‘lese-majeste’; opposition to his plans, from whatever it may come, is a definite sacrilege, to which the only reply is an immediate and striking display of his omnipotence.”
Which people in your life did you think of when reading those quotes?
A politician or political candidate?
A former abusive partner?
All three above quotes are the description of the psychological profile of the same person.
In 1943, a secret wartime report was prepared for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Washington, DC by psychoanalyst Walter C. Langer; it probed the psychology of Adolf Hitler and all of the above quotes are descriptions of Adolf Hitler from that report. (Read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_lie – Hitler’s psychological profile;
The key points in the above quotes are the concept and strategy of infallibility – “never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame…”
And yes, we see many examples of that approach and attitude by politicians, political candidates and even people involved in the various sexual scandals of late – Penn State, Catholic Church officials and so forth.
Infallibility simply refers to the impossibility of being wrong and yet, we are all imperfect humans who will make mistakes. But we believe that it is weakness to admit being wrong, mistaken or imperfect. This can also be referred to as destructive ego, arrogance, delusion, denial or narcissism.
Acting and believing we are infallible, that we are not allowed to be mistaken, lose or be wrong lead to horrible consequences – even for our children.
“The moment I am going to share with you, there are two witnesses to it, Janet and Charlie. Charlie was a very dear, very shy kid. Because he was so sensitive, because my anger affected him so much, I would overcompensate; I would either be too nice to him or too mean to him.
“Charlie was a very good baseball player, just a wonderful athlete generally. When he was about fifteen, a sophomore in high school, we were playing basketball at the house. He had never beaten me one-on-one. I used to be pretty good. But that day, he had me. He was whipping me, and I kept coming back and coming back. He had to win by two, right? He was one up, and I missed a shot and he got the rebound, drove around the back, zinged that thing, and got it. He was dancing around, and I said, ‘No, no…we play by the rules, right?’
‘Yes, but I won!’
“No, you stepped on the line, right here. You went out of bounds.”
“I could not let him have it. He beat me fair and square, and I could not let him have it, and he was furious. That’s the ego. That’s what he had to deal with in me, what the whole family had to deal with.”
That fifteen-year-old boy grew up into a movie star, a celebrity who would one day become an addict and would be seen and heard screaming ever so loudly to the world “Winning! Winning! Winning!” as he felt tormented by the subconscious belief that he is a loser and that can never win. Yes, that’s Charlie Sheen as told by his father Martin Sheen who at the time refused to admit fallibility; who at the time was overcome by ego. (The cited quotes of Martin Sheen are from the 2010 book by Christopher Kennedy Lawford “Moments of Clarity: Voices from the Front Lines of Addiction and Recovery.” http://www.amazon.com/Moments-Clarity-Voices-Addiction-Recovery/dp/0061456217 )
You can also read more insights into Charlie Sheen which I wrote prior to ever reading the essay by Martin Sheen in the above named book: http://patrickwanis.com/blog/charlie-sheen-believes-he-is-a-loser/
Admittedly, it is our ego – our desire to be right, superior and perfect that leads to the fear of admitting our errors and mistakes. But only when we are able to admit fallibility, vulnerability and humanness is it possible to build a healthy, loving and meaningful relationship with the people around us.
When you admit that you made a mistake, you create the safe place and space for people around you to express themselves, take risks and ultimately trust you. A person cannot express their love to you if they always feel forced to live out of fear rather than live from their heart knowing they will be loved and accepted by you.
Read these articles to help you find balance in admitting when you are wrong whilst not destroying your self-esteem:
*** “Letting go of guilt” – when you have done wrong and need forgiveness and to let go of guilt and shame http://patrickwanis.com/blog/letting-go-of-guilt/
*** “Why do you always need to be right?” – learning that being right does not always equal being happy http://patrickwanis.com/blog/why-do-you-always-need-to-be-right/
*** “The twelve most important words you will speak” – relationship advice and why saying “I am sorry, I was wrong” are such powerful words http://patrickwanis.com/blog/the-twelve-most-important-words-you-will-speak/
*** “You’ll never measure up” – how to overcome societal expectations of physical perfection http://patrickwanis.com/blog/youll-never-measure-up/
*** “The dangers of cotton-wooling your children” – learning to use balance when raising children – avoiding over protection http://patrickwanis.com/blog/the-dangers-of-cotton-wooling-your-children/
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist