New Castle News

Lisa Madras

February 6, 2012

Lisa Madras: It’s never too late to ask, ‘Where am I wrong?’

NEW CASTLE — Whenever somebody tells me I'm right, my usual response is, "Of course I'm right. I'm always right. The sooner you know that, the better off you'll be."

I say this in jest, of course, and with a deep-seated respect for the knowledge that in truth, I'm wrong more often than I care to be. It's never an easy thing to admit your faults, and so this week's question, "Where am I wrong?" is not an easy one to ask.

I'd formed a hypothesis years ago in order to keep myself out of trouble: Everybody believes they are right, all of the time ... because if they knew they were wrong, they would change. I'm not sure if this is entirely true, but it surely has to be at least most of the time. Your ego wants you to ignore that you may have bad information or false beliefs. And I don't know too many people who say, "Hey ... I'm WRONG, but I stick by this (belief, theory, conviction) nonetheless." It's usually more like, "I am NOT wrong, and I'm gonna tell you why. ..."

It takes a lot of strength to even ask yourself if you might be wrong. But I've found that it's probably the first thing you need to do if you're unhappy. It's said that rightness of heart often shows itself in gladness of heart. That's not to say that outside forces are never the cause of discontent, but when looking for the true source, it's definitely a good idea to take a look inside as well.

I'm not specifically talking about things we've DONE wrong, either. I've made more than my fair share of mistakes in life, some of them biggies, all of them connected in one way or another to the sad and somewhat strange dance of life that I find myself in now. But these are the wrongs we do, learn from, and let go. What really weighs us down are the wrongs we carry around inside ourselves, and either through ignorance (not realizing we're wrong) or stubbornness (not admitting we're wrong) allow ourselves to be defined by them.

And so, at the ripe old age of 39, for the first time ever, I have to stop asking, "Why me?" and start asking, "Where am I wrong?" Funny thing is, I HAD to stop asking myself the first question in order to ask myself the second.

This isn't a question that can be answered overnight. At first, I kept telling myself the expected response. "I can't find anywhere that I'm wrong." After all, I'm not racist or bigoted. I'm a lover of people, and a lover of all earthly things in general ... a true tree-hugger and pacifist. I want the best for everyone, and at worst, I'm an obnoxious, walking personification of the song, "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing."

That's right ... in perfect harmony, baby.

So my mind's been churning and churning, and it turns out that this question is keeping me up at night. Which means my heart is trying to tell me something, some inconvenient truth that it knows even if I don't see it.

I've hit on some minor things so far, like my mistrust of men in general based on my experience with a few, my inconsistent discipline of my children, and my tendency to always take the path of least resistance. I’m sure the list will get worse from there, but as Socrates believed, we gain our first measure of intelligence when we admit our own ignorance. 

It’s never too late to give yourself a good interrogation if you’re holding onto convictions that always seem to put you in opposition to others if those beliefs cause disharmony in your life, or are causing you to feel malice toward others. Ask yourself not only why you believe something to be true, but where you got your information. Do you blindly accept something as truth just because your parents did, or because of a previous bad experience? Maybe it’s time to do a little reflecting and research.

Once something becomes a core belief (this religious group is evil, that ethnicity is bad, “they” cause all the problems in the world), we have a tendency to assume it reflects reality when in truth it may not, and this false assumption becomes a part of our identity.

There’s one belief that I refuse to let go of, and that is, that quite frankly … you, I, and “they” are ALL better than that.

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Lisa Madras
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Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 fell from the sky in Donetsk, Ukraine, on Thursday, killing all 298 people aboard. Many are speculating that Russian rebels (supported by Vladimir Putin) are responsible for downing the aircraft. What do you think?

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