Admitting When You’re Wrong

By Samantha McKenzie

So there’s a really good reason for why it’s hard to admit when we are wrong.

Elliott Aronson, social psychologist and co-author of the book, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me), says our “brains work hard to make us think we are doing the right thing, even in the face of sometimes overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”

The brain actually works to support our actions – right or wrong – because it doesn’t want us to go through the pain or discomfort of knowing that we are in the wrong. It’s like our brains take on the role of an overprotective parent who offers excuses as to why we were behaving badly. It works overtime to protect our fragile egos. It sounds so cool, but no thanks. We’re better off facing the music and owning up to our mistakes.

Many of us can recall a time when we had all the evidence in front of us and the facts to prove that the other person was wrong. We laid it out, even yelled it aloud and still they refused to admit their mistake. Many of us, at some point in our lives, have been that wrong person, fighting against the urge to take responsibility and fighting to protect our wrongness.


It’s still so hard to say I was wrong. After the heavy breathing and sweaty palms have subsided, we end up feeling better about taking that first step. I guess confession is truly good for the soul. And it’s the healing that comes along with it that’s best for all of us.

It’s also healthier, mentally and physically, to admit to your mistakes. It takes away the stress of hiding the truth. The struggle, however, does begin within.

Here’s some “I’m Only Human” tips to admitting when you’re wrong:

  1. Take Action Quickly!Don’t avoid the process. The first thing you must do is listen to your accuser. Listen all the way through without interrupting. This will help you understand their side of the story.
  2. Offer An ExplanationThere’s always two points of view. When the time is right, offer your side and then take responsibility for your wrong doing. Accept that it happened. Be accountable for your actions.
  3. Find a Way to Say Sorry – Offer an apology, but only if it’s genuine. Nothing’s worse than an insincere apology. Remember you are acknowledging that something you did left another person injured. You owe it to them.
  4. Repair What’s Been Broken…Even if it’s a Heart If the opportunity is available, offer some form of reparations. What can I do to make it up to you? If I broke your favorite glass, can I buy you another one? Offer a gesture to show that you want to make amends for your mistake.
  5. Look Ahead! – Finally, move on. Don’t beat yourself up and don’t keep bringing up the old story. Follow the steps above and try to never do it again. Remind  yourself that you are a good person and that you’re improving every day.

Best of luck!

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