Psychology: We all make the most annoying mistake in the world

Do not try this!
This is the most annoying mistake in the world – do you know it too?

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Mistakes are usually annoying, otherwise we would hardly learn from them. But there is one type of mistake that really beats everything – and it’s not even super instructive.

Making mistakes is one of the best and most effective ways to learn. We slip up, slouch, forget something, make a decision that turns out to be rather unwise, and then ideally we get annoyed just enough afterwards to learn a lesson from it and not repeat our mistake so quickly in the future.

Sometimes our faux pas also has unpleasant consequences that certainly increase the learning effect, but most of the time they are not even as lasting or memorable as our anger. In this respect, it is completely okay to make mistakes and to be angry about them afterwards – of course in a thoughtful manner and in moderation. However, there is one type of error that is usually more annoying than all others – and it is also the type of error that we often learn the least from.

The most annoying mistake in the world

Imagine you are at a party. One of the guests, you know him quite well but aren’t close friends with him, speaks strangely even though he hasn’t had anything to drink. You’re worried and actually want to talk to him about it and suggest that it’s best to go to the doctor immediately and get checked out, but since you don’t want to offend him, you consult a friend first. “Maybe he took something,” she suspects, “or he overslept, I don’t think we have to do anything.” You listen to them even though your gut tells you otherwise. The next day you find out that the person in question has been hospitalized with a stroke. If only you had trusted your inner voice…!

Mistakes we make against our better judgment or intuition because we trust others more than ourselves are usually the most annoying of all and the ones we regret most (should?!). Understandable, after all we betray ourselves, suppress our own impulses and feelings – and then we have the salad.

The lesson we could learn from this would be to have more trust in ourselves and less in others. Unfortunately, self-confidence does not usually increase simply by becoming more suspicious of others – Strengthening self-confidence is different. Plus, unfortunately, we didn’t strengthen or confirm our gut feeling. We think to ourselves “if only I had…”, but we never have and will never know whether it would have really been better.

It wouldn’t make much sense to learn from this type of mistake that you shouldn’t ask anyone for advice anymore. After all, exchanging ideas with others often gives us new perspectives on a problem and sometimes even changes our own perspective and attitude. And so in the end there is not much left other than the realization that we have missed an opportunity to optimize our inner, intuitive compass. Great.

Why are we making the most annoying mistake in the world?

A common cause of this most annoying mistake in the world is, as already suggested, lack of self-confidence. We are insecure and consider others to be more competent, smarter, sensitive (or whatever) than ourselves. Therefore, we value what they say more highly than our own opinions. Sometimes we are forced to do what others tell us even though we know better – for example if they are our superiors or our parents. Then all we can do is ensure that at some point they show us enough respect to let us decide for ourselves.

In addition, our attitude towards mistakes often plays a role in the most annoying mistake in the world: if we are so afraid of making mistakes for which we are responsible, we might prefer to do what others advise us from the outset – but then believe that they will are also guilty and have to live with remorse is a fallacy. Regardless of whether we follow our feelings or what someone advises us, in the end we are always responsible for our own actions and decisions. That’s why when in doubt, we should make our own mistakes – because then we will at least have remained true to ourselves.


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