I just realised that sometimes I suffer from an unwillingness to be wrong. It seems silly on multiple levels.
I mean anyone, when asked, would say, “Well of course I can admit when I’m wrong. I do it all the time.” Certain scenarios flit through my mind. Apologising to Brenton for something or other, conceding defeat in an intellectual dispute, those kinds of things.
But then there are situations where no one is completely right, or wrong, and lack of perspective and the resulting frustration and impatience all bubble away together in a self righteous, indignant, obstinately blind mire.
What is silly about it is that it’s the small stuff that counts the most, because it’s so small it doesn’t seem to be worth too much analysis, so it is never acknowledged. It’s simply “Man everyone but me is a real jerk,” and moving ignorantly on to the next relatively insignificant problem.
Like say you’re driving home from grocery shopping one day and you pull up at a T-intersection and a car is coming along towards you indicating left so you assume this car is going to turn into your street and you pull out to turn right, only it turns out this car was indicating just a bit too early and was actually going to be taking the next left, and the driver honks furiously, glaring, waving fists because YOU pulled out in front of it. You glare back, thinking “well indicate properly then you pompous nut socket,” and both you and the other driver drive off muttering incredulously and swerving dangerously before your heart rates return to baseline. In the under-layers you both know you were both wrong, but you don’t allow that to come up to the over-layers.
Which reminds me, Brenton doesn’t believe there are layers of thought, but I think that’s a topic for another entry.
My point is that it is so much preferable to be angry and right than ashamed and wrong.
And that’s enough sermonising hypotheticals I guess. I’ll tell you what actually prompted my epiphany.
So you know I’m a mental health superstar. At one of my jobs, when a potential client signs up for counselling, they are assigned first to a case worker. The case worker assesses whether my service is right for the client, and then refers the client either to me or to a more appropriate service.
A client came through to me whom I determined was not right for my service. I sent the information back to the case worker, asking her to re-assess and refer to the service that I thought the client was clearly looking for. A week later a different case worker referred the client back to me, advising me that, based on the information provided, I couldn’t possibly make the call that the client wasn’t right for me, and that I should perform the assessment with the client and refer if needed.
Upon receiving this communication I became quite irate with the second case worker. I compressed my resentment into a bitter little pellet in my belly and just emailed the client for clarification. Lo, it turns out I was right. I referred the client to the right service.
Today (another week later) the counsellor who provides that service has emailed me saying he has reservations about taking on this client and it is OK if he refers her elsewhere. I rather energetically tapped out a response fuelled by righteous frustration that the client has already been screwed around by us for a period of three weeks due to case worker incompetence.
It was as I was composing this reply that I realised it wasn’t all the case workers’ fault. Yeah, it was mine.
I was too eager to insist that assessment was the responsibility of the case workers. When I received the referral I had options. I could have explained to the case worker why I felt the client wasn’t right for me. Or, I could simply have emailed the client first thing to confirm which service she required. It would have taken me twenty minutes tops, and would have been sorted out weeks ago without bouncing back and forth between various staff.
My own smug “It’s not my job to deal with these merely administrative details” attitude was the start of it. My willingness to place all the blame with the case worker rather than accept any responsibility was what resulted in that automatic email response being so bitter. I’m just glad I realised it before I sent it.
If I’d sent the email I would have come across as that obstinate, self righteous, pettily muttering driver who couldn’t admit the part they had to play in the resulting almost-collision.
I want to be a person who does more than the bare minimum required, who is flexible and easy going, and who admits when she has made a mistake.
And that’s what else I meant when I said it seemed silly. Such an insignificant issue to have an epiphany over.