[correct answers phobia]

[correct answers phobia]

I have mentioned it briefly a couple of times at my blog, but today it’s all I keep thinking about.

I have an allergy for “right answers” and what’s worse – I am afraid of them.

This might seem weird to some, but hear me out…

In youth group (and earlier too but not as much) I often heard something along the lines “Don’t tell me the ‘right answer’ but tell me what you think about this or that issue.”

Most of the time, I had to remain quiet because what I thought coincided with the “right answer” – and I didn’t want to stand out as Ms. Smartie Pants (the trick didn’t really work since I was already known as someone who knows a lot). As a result, while I sat and listened to what others had to say regarding some issue, I wondered… If my view coincides with the “right answer” then obviously there should be some other answer which would be more accepted, more “right” if I may.

I know it might sound silly. However, these days I feel as if that is one of the biggest obstacles in my life when it comes to sharing Good News. I hate giving the “right answers” (even when they are truly right) just because… well, I was taught to tell what I think and not the “right answer.”

When someone asks a question… I halt. I double- and triple-check myself. I doubt myself that I know the answer… Even when I do.

Most of the time, my “trained” logic tells me this: “If this is too obvious, then it’s obviously wrong.” (This got me in trouble quite often at school and university – one of the reasons why I stopped checking my work before taking it to the teacher. Whenever I would think I answered the question wrong and changed the answer… the correction was wrong and the initial answer was correct.) So when I am tackled with questions of faith, some things are obvious after so many years of hearing about them, and you begin to wonder… are they right?


Did you ever have that? If you did, how did you get rid of the phobia?

  • Mary

    It all depends on the subject being discussed. For example, there are certainly right answers in mathematics, science, and in learning a foreign language. What is the word for “truth” in Russian? There is a right answer to this question.

    In other areas of discourse like psychology, philosophy, and literature, the concept of the right answer is not applicable in quite the same way. In matters of theology and faith there are many differences of opinion in Christianity itself, not to mention the other religions of the world.

    When teaching young people in this area there is merit in getting them to talk without the right/wrong tag hanging over them. Wisdom, which is the true goal of a spiritual path, is not attained by learning a set of “right answers”.

    • Well, that’s the thing. Even a simple 2+2 can have different meanings – technically it can be anything between 3 and 5 because the standard deviation for 2 is .5… 
      I guess it’s also one thing when the “asker” is someone who knows “less” in this area and you know a bit more, so you are able to answer him / her with a simple answer. But when the “asker” is someone who knows more than you and he asks to challenge you… then I start doubting my answers because I always feel like I am simplifying difficult matters (while in reality, I usually do it vice versa)…

      Right / wrong – yeah, maybe. But then, if you don’t stick to the correct set of “right / wrong,” you might end up in a deep stuff. When you don’t know the rules of the game, you can make your own, but the game won’t be the same. 

      P.S. In Russian, there are two words that mean “truth” – правда (PRUV-dah) and истина (EES-tee-nah). The first one means that something is true (like the fact that Australia is a separate continent) – and mostly is used for everyday things, but the second one implies more spiritual sense (for example, the truth that shall set you free – John 8:31).

      • Mary

        A wise man once said: “See the problem as it is, not the way you have set it up.”

        The word “educate” comes from a Latin word meaning to draw forth or bring out. Ideally a teacher should know more than his pupil and, of course, there has to be instruction. There should also be the drawing out of the potential of the pupil.

        I would suggest that scientific truth and spiritual truth are different categories, although teaching in both areas has some things in common. In particular, a spiritual teacher has a responsibility to draw forth the truth in his pupil. The truth is in all of us. God put it there. A good teacher facilitates our realisation of this. To be fully realised, or fully enlightened is the end of the process.

        The phobia about right snswers could dissolve if you saw things in this broader perspective, both in ordinary life and spiritual life.

        P.S. Yes, I have heard both of these Russian words. They are both “right” in their context.

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