Humility, or Why Being Wrong Kicks All Kinds of Ass

Post by Steve Johnson for the Love for Love series.

letterpress card by bhletterpress on etsy

Humility, or Why Being Wrong Kicks All Kinds of Ass

I like being wrong. Honestly – I’m totally cool with it. Any kind of wrong will do: For instance, I love it when I say something stupid to the point I’m tasting my own shoe leather for an hour, or when my fiancée comes home from having to work on a Saturday and I’m still in my underwear at 4pm with no chores done.

Here’s why:

It takes guts – real balls to be wrong and own it. Because you have to take responsibility for your actions and realize you have to change. Most of us aren’t so good at this. But when you cop to your faults and listen to someone who’s patient enough to point them out and even better, point out how it hurt them – you know, display some real vulnerability – a wondrous thing occurs: trust begins. When another human being genuinely asks us to change and will sit with us while we absorb that information, what they’re saying is “I think you can be better than this and here’s a good time to start. I still believe in you.”

When we genuinely listen to ourselves and others, there’s no need for excuses or for creating elaborate schemes to explain why someone else is at fault. You can stay in the moment and realize that one of the best ways of showing personal strength is to back down and realize you’re not always as perfect as you would have the world believe. Humans are curious people; when we ask questions, even if that question is “I’ve obviously upset you; how can I improve this situation?”, it’s guaranteed to make the other person open up and offer suggestions.

Granted, you have to pick your spots for this. Four pints in at the start of a bar brawl maybe isn’t the optimal time. Someone pointing a gun at you on the freeway is also perhaps not your ideal moment to attempt this mode of communication.

The point is that the more you open up to accepting your own responsibility in changing behavior that is causing harm to someone else, the freer you become in understanding how others also are burdened with the same needs you have. Ours is a shared world; no one exists in a vacuum of superhuman Can-Doism. And no one has special privileges; we’re all in this together. By honoring someone’s request to slow down and look at our own actions, you pay a compliment to that person and display a great deal of trust. There’s nothing finer. Except when you do get the odd chance to lounge in your boxers in the afternoon after the laundry’s in and the dishes are washed. Because that totally effing rocks.


Steve Johnson is a free-lance writer with a serious perfume habit – he’s written for, Katie Puckrik Smells and The Wire magazine in Portsmouth, NH. You can contact him at flippedshoe(at)gmail(dot)com


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