Thursday, February 23, 2012

When you know you're wrong...

"The Magician" represents awareness of your own abilities without pride or shame

I often find myself saying, “It’s not an excuse but it’s a reason.” There is a very important difference between these two things and understanding what that statement means. 
When I was pulled over for speeding I told the officer that I was late for a wedding, but fully expected to get a ticket as I’d broken the law. 
  “It’s a reason for me to speed but not an excuse for doing so,” I said sheepishly, handing him my license and insurance. 
He smiled, taking my information and returning to his car to process it. 
There were several other cars that had also been pulled over. In one was a couple. They were arguing. Or rather, the woman was obviously agitated and had a lot to say and the man was looking out the window with a scowl on his face. The woman in the other third car had a look of indignation on her face, as though the police were treating her unfairly. 
It was a beautiful day. The sky was clear blue with the occasional perfect puffy white cloud. The sun was warm and accompanied by a pleasant cool breeze so it didn't get too hot. The grass was green and bright. 
I sat in my car and reflected on how beautiful the day was and how O.K. I felt about what was only going to be an extra expense. I knew better than to argue with the officer. 
When I was a kid my mum had annoyingly told me many times over: "If you're wrong you shouldn't argue because you know you're wrong. If you're right you won't have to argue because you know you're right." 
It drove me up the wall because I was an argumentative and stubborn child. But now I get it. I could have argued with the police officer. I could have stated that getting to a wedding was really important and getting there on time was more important than obeying the laws of the road. I could have argued that he should be out 'catching rapists and murderers - real criminals!' rather than 'innocent' speeding drivers. But that would have been wrong. 
I'd broken the law, plain as that. By cooperating and accepting responsibility, I drove away before the other two vehicles that had been pulled over before me and I wasn't late after all. 
It's not easy to admit when you're wrong. Believe me, as a child I really hated it. When I'd hurt someones feelings I hated to apologise because that was admitting I'd hurt someone. In my head I was too nice to be hurtful so I equated apologising with saying "I'm a mean person." 
But when we learn to admit our mistakes, to take responsibility rather than to argue, we see that we're not bad people. We just do silly, stupid things sometimes. Everyone does. No one gets it right all the time. 
And when we do have it right, when we know with a shadow of a doubt that what we have said or done was informed and in the best intention, then we don't need to argue. 
I used to love arguing a point. Still do sometimes but I used to actually seek out controversy. It was something that gave me a rush - being able to prove my point. But I began to see that most of the time all the energy I put into angrily trying to make my side be seen was for nothing. We'd both go away indignant, feeling like the other was in the wrong when we were so clearly in the right. 
Don't mistake arguing with debate. Debate is dialogue engaged to stimulate thought. Arguing is very back and forth with an awful lot of attachment from the parties involved. 
I remember when I started to understand that I didn't have to win an argument to know I was right about something. I realised that being right wasn't about changing someone's mind. Being right is about knowing your own mind. 
Someone accused me of lacking a work ethic. I knew so deeply, right down to my toes, that this was a ridiculous statement. I didn't say a single thing to refute it. I didn't have to. The statement was not a reflection on my ability to work hard or not. The statement was a reflection of how little the person who'd said it knew me. 
This ties in with my previous entry about being genuine. When we are genuine - when we aren't pretending to be any better or any worse than we actually are - we can be more honest with ourselves. When we are honest with ourselves then we will trust what we know to be true. So if someone says to me "You can be really bossy sometimes," I can shrug and think, "That certainly is true." And if someone says to me, "You're manipulative," I can shrug and think, "Clearly this person doesn't know me at all." 


  1. I know what you mean. I often have to think about wording so I'm not misunderstood. "Sorry I'm late, I got stuck in traffic" sounds like an axcuse, whereas "Sorry I'm late, I didn't allow enough time for traffic" comes across as a reason.

    1. Totally. It really makes me aware of how I say something. and there's something so liberating about taking responsibility. It means people can't catch you out because you've admitted that you could have planned things better.

  2. I am most impressed. I am embarressed to say I have often been the one of the idiots in the other car but I am getting there.

    1. Not an idiot. The thing is, no one is perfect. The important thing is to be patient with yourself.

  3. I liked this entry a lot. I liked the part about not giving the police officer a hard time, and the part about not having to argue because winning an argument isn't the point. I agree with all of it! Nice work. :D


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