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Why we should embrace our mistakes - not just because we learn from them

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Sure, we’re only human, so we make mistakes. We all know that. So why do we prevent ourselves from making them? Kathryn Schulz advocates making mistakes – and embracing them. 

How does it feel to make a mistake? ‘Embarrassing’, some people in Kathryn Schulz’s audience say. ‘Unpleasant’, others say. But wait, says Schulz in her TED Talk – that’s not an answer to this question. It’s knowing you’re making a mistake that feels unpleasant – making the mistake itself usually makes you feel fine, because at the time, you usually don’t know you’re making it. We’re like Wile E. Coyote in Looney Tunes, running off a cliff: it’s not until he looks down, he knows he’s going to fall. Until that moment, he doesn’t have a clue. 

Convinced you’re right? That’s risky

Making mistakes without knowing it, feels like everything’s just going like it should. Unknowingly being wrong feels like being right. And that’s risky, says Schulz, who studied making mistakes for years and calls herself a ‘wrongologist’ now. People who are convinced of being right, can make very stupid choices, and they don’t care about criticism. The person who criticizes their point of view just doesn’t know a thing about the matter, or they are stupid, or even malicious. 

Doubt makes life more exciting

But once you start realizing that you just might be wrong, you make room for doubt. You’re open to the complexity of the world. And it makes life much more exciting, according to Schulz. We all see things differently, we can’t all be right all the time. That’s a good thing, because: ‘The whole idea of being human is that we experience things differently. The miracle of the mind is that we can see things the way they aren’t. Not just the present, but also the past and the future.’

Photo: Victor Dueñas Teixeira