Why admit your mistakes?

Accidental slip.

"The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinion.”
 At least, so said writer J. R. Lowell

Be that as it may, it is a very common human failing to stick to an opinion unreasonably or to refuse to admit when we are wrong."

Have you never made a mistake?

Have you always been correct with every decision you have made, every opinion given and every action taken?

It is most unlikely that you would say "yes".

Imperfect humans are certain to make mistakes, some more than others.

The best they can do is to exercise great care so as to reduce the number they make.

You may readily admit that you are not infallible, but when it comes to acknowledging an error do you strive to make people think you are?

When confronted with a mistake do you stoutly argue that it is not an error, when in your heart you know that it is?

Do you strive to twist the facts in order to justify what you have done rather than to admit humbly that you were wrong?

Why people don't admit their mistakes? 

Some people are just stubborn in this respect that they never change their story.

They will never admit an error.

Sometimes the problem may not be merely stubbornness.

It may be related to another characteristic—pride. How could this be?

Well, consider.

Have you ever known a supervisor at work who makes a mistake and, when it is exposed, refuses to admit it or tries to blame someone else?

Or, perhaps, you have heard a person in authority unintentionally say something inaccurate and then be unwilling to acknowledge it.

This could be due to pride, a feeling that in his position he should not be caught in a mistake. 

Parents and schoolteachers sometimes act this way, fearing that they will lose respect and influence if they admit an error, thus weakening their authority.

Related to pride is the idea of “saving face.”

In the Orient some would rather die literally than “lose face.”

But most of us, whether in the East or the West, want to defend our “face,” our prestige or the image we want to present.

This is motivated to a great extent by pride.

Some people may, for another reason, refuse to admit when they are wrong.

Perhaps they are afraid or embarrassed. 

When they have done something that they are ashamed of, and have been called to account for it, sheer shame may cause them to deny the facts or to try to justify their action in an effort to get their consciences to excuse them.

Why admit your mistakes?

The poet Alexander Pope wrote:

Some positive persisting fops we know, who, if once wrong, will needs be always so; But you with pleasure own your errors past, and make each day a critique on the last.”

This is good advice.

It is better to acknowledge ownership of your errors so you can dispose of them than to let pride make you stubbornly hold on to them.

Such stubbornness is not showing respect for the truth.

You probably have known someone—maybe a fellow student, a neighbor, or even a teacher—who never wanted to admit to making a mistake or being wrong.

How do you feel personally about someone like that?

Would your opinion of him go up or down if one day he came right out and said, “I’m sorry; I see I was wrong”?

Yes, no one can maintain the respect of others if he always insists that he is right, even when confronted with an obvious mistake.

This continual self-justification becomes repugnant to them.

It is only proper to apologize for an error that inconveniences someone.

It is adding insult to injury to deny one’s error.

There are times when a person may honestly not recall giving misinformation to a person.

Nevertheless, he can make acknowledgment that it is possible that he made a mistake and, if he did, he did not do it intentionally.

An apology helps to preserve good relations with the other people.

Often, restoring peaceful relations simply requires admitting that we handled matters wrongly and asking forgiveness.

The longer we wait to do this, the more difficult it becomes.

An apology is usually appreciated, especially if made quickly. In fact, the sooner we admit a mistake the better.

To illustrate:

On October 31, 1992, Pope John Paul II admitted that the Inquisition had acted “mistakenly” 360 years ago in punishing Galileo for asserting that the earth is not the center of the universe."

The postponing an apology for such a long time tends to diminish its value.

No Cause for Despair

Diplomat Edward John Phelps observed: 

“The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.”
Though all of us make mistakes, these need not be a cause for despair.

Would a child learn to walk without ever stumbling? 

No, for a child learns from mistakes and keeps on trying until balance is achieved.

To lead balanced lives, we also need to learn from our mistakes and those of others

Listening to experiences of others whose circumstances may mirror our own, can helped us avoid making the same mistakes that they made.

Often a sense of humor will be of help, especially if the wrong or mistake is not too serious or weighty.

One good housewife was carrying a number of dinner plates when she stumbled and dropped the whole stack, smashing all of them.

At that, she burst out laughing, for it seemed to her that such a thing simply could not happen to her.

And yet it did!

Yes, often a sense of humor will keep us from taking ourselves too seriously, which frequently is at the bottom of our not wanting to admit that we have made a mistake.


As long as humans will be imperfect, mistakes will be part of the lives of all.

It is important to recognize this fact and not pretend that we do not make them.

Since none of us are perfect and everyone knows it, we should all be big enough to acknowledge our errors.