A well mind asks questions and embraces the fears that hold us back from becoming our truer selves; being able to treat yourself like a child,
“I don’t know” can be the hardest thing for us to say and even harder to admit to ourselves.
As a student, I am all too familiar with the humbling discomfort of being WRONG. When what you learn and what you know is subject to grading system it can be hard to keep your ego in check.
Academia and the Problem of I Don’t Know: EGO
Just today my professor in Old English returned a short paper I had written. I handed in a paper and I knew, even when I was writing it I had taken some pretty big risks. Instead of writing paper on theme or keeping with one passage I chose to work my own translation of an Anglo-Saxon version of Psalm I.
The grade I received wasn’t bad and my initial reaction was the disappointment but when I read her comments I realized: If I had not made errors I wouldn’t have this opportunity to learn more! I used the assignment as a way of cultivating my translation skills, of engaging with the material on a deeper level and to write kind of paper that I no previous experience with.
Grades do not reflect your personal growth
The passion, time, energy and work you put into an assignment cannot be taken away from you even if you fail!
I am new to translation so in that way I am like a child. If a child makes an error when learning something new we do not chastise them for not knowing better; we take that opportunity to show them how they can grow and learn more from their mistake. Why then, are we so hard on ourselves?
Ego thinks self and how we should be instead of how we are. This is ego’s first failing. If I were to take what happened today for instance, and subject it to the millions of reasons why I should be rewarded with the highest grade for the effort and time and creativity I put into my work, it wouldn’t change anything about how it is. The only change that comes through a should line of reasoning is negative change: I give up, I create conflict, I get depressed, I think I am not good enough.
When we are wrong SHOULD is an ego defense mechanism. We will blame anything and in some cases go to some pretty extreme lengths so we don’t have to admit that we were wrong.
In those situations, it is helpful to ask yourself: Why am I afraid to be wrong?
Next time you make a mistake try sitting with the feeling of being wrong. How does it manifest in your body? What kinds of things do you say to yourself? re you being kind or forgiving or are you bullying yourself?
Finally, ask yourself this:
What have I learned?
I think you’ll find freedom is on the other side of the question.