Getting it wrong and being wrong – what is the difference?

You might think these are the same thing. I see them as very different but they are often conflated together. 


Getting it wrong is when we get a thing wrong, like a maths equation, a spelling mistake or other tasks.

Being wrong is when we feel there is something innately wrong with us to the   core of our being. This feeling of being wrong can come from being shamed and   humiliated when getting it wrong or when someone has wronged us such as   abuse, or if we feel unloved by parental figures

When you feel that you are being wrong, check and see if you just got something wrong, did you make a mistake? You are not the thing you got wrong, you are not the mistake you made. You can get things wrong and make mistakes and still be good enough just the way you are. 

If you are having difficulty understanding the difference, imagine a five-year old child who is just learning letters and words. Imagine they have written the word cat but have gotten the ‘a’ the wrong way round. Do you think that there is something wrong in the very core of that child for them to get the letter the wrong way round? Do you think that child should feel shame or humiliation for their mistake? Or can you see that they just made an error? The very being of them, the core essence of them is still wonderful. That is the difference between getting it wrong and being wrong.

Many of us put up big defences about being wrong, as if there is only one answer and the answer we have must be the ‘right one’ for fear of being wrong. This is often a defence against the shame we feel for ‘being wrong’. The shame that we must hide from others in case they see how wrong or bad we really are, and also the shame we can’t bear to feel ourselves. This shame is there to protect us but in reality it keeps us from making connections with those we love and care about.

We often see the internet dissolve into fierce arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a defence against the shame of being wrong, rather than recognising that something can be right for us but wrong for someone else or vice versa.

The first step in resolving this is noticing that it happens. Are you quick to defend yourself and try to prove that the other person is wrong? Do you have difficulty not backing down in an argument for fear of humiliation? Do you feel it is unbearable for someone to find out that you did something wrong and lie to cover it up? 

Next is to understand that you are still a worthy human being even if you ‘get things wrong’ or make mistakes. Getting things wrong doesn’t mean that at your core you are wrong. This creates a brittleness and lack of resilience in life. See if you can trace back to a core belief that created this reaction in you. 

A core belief can be created from being told things explicitly eg. “Why can't you get anything right?” or they can be created from the actions of others around us or situations beyond our control eg. “Dad doesn’t spend any time with me, which must mean that he doesn’t like me and I’m not good enough”. We are often young when core beliefs are created. Notice what age you feel when it occurs.  

Once you’ve identified the core belief, there are various ways to release it and change it. Notice when this belief is activated in you and check if it is true in reality. For example, “My boss wants to talk to me, I must have done something wrong” or “My partner asked me to pick up some shopping and I forgot. What excuse can I come up with?” . “Even though I know I’m wrong, I can’t back down or I'll look like an idiot” . Then talk to yourself nicely and reassuringly. Be kind to the young part of you that fears ‘being wrong”

Is it possible to change your mindset around right and wrong, good and bad? Is it possible to see these things as an experiment that you now have feedback on. With that feedback what else could you choose? If you were able to remove the judgement of right and wrong what would it free you up to do or be? 

Energy psychotherapy is very effective in identifying and releasing core beliefs easily. Think how much nicer your life would be if you didn’t have to fear and create defences around feeling the shame or humiliation of being wrong, when in reality there is nothing wrong with you, a belief is not fact. 

If you would like help identifying and releasing any core beliefs or other issues please get in touch using the 'email me' button below. I offer a free 15 minute consultation to see if I can help you, and if you would like to work with me.   

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Bere Alston, Devon, PL20
Written by Hermione Brown, Psycho-spiritual psychotherapy & counselling. BSc(Hons)
Bere Alston, Devon, PL20

In my work I draw on lots of different modalities, Integrative Intuitive Psychotherapeutic Counselling, Family/Systemic Constellations and Energy Psychotherapy. This creates a powerful and effective way of identifying and releasing issues. I have written other articles which you may be interested in reading.

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