I dont remember the exact conversation that we were having…but I do know that I insisted that I was right about something. In fact, I was so sure that how I was seeing things was the exact right way to see them that in expressing my viewpoint I just kept repeating the same sentences over and over again, as if by sheer repetition of my perspective that my Namaste would understand and agree that I was right! LOL…. In her gentle and thoughtful way, she asked me a question about the nature of what I was trying to communicate and whether or not I believed she could really understand why I felt the way I did just from my repetition of what I believed happened.
It took me about 3 more laps around the metaphorical conversation track before the light finally came on!!! Eventually I realized that my insistence that I was right kept me from fully participating in the discussion and delayed reaching a place of understanding. Being ‘right’ actually became a barrier to intimacy and communication! We actually laughed about it when we unraveled what was happening, but since that time I’ve been thinking about how many people we know who struggle with this very issue, on an ongoing basis – often with disastrous consequences in their relationships, personal lives and even in their careers.
Some of us will sacrifice almost anything in order to be the last one standing. In the aftermath, a person who had been surrounded by closeness, togetherness or even love, now sits alone safe in the knowledge that he or she is right in their viewpoint even though they have alienated everyone around them. The ego is a mighty powerful entity left unchecked. Have you ever attempted to reason with a child who knows everything? It is their way or no way at all. They simply cannot understand the concept of another persons point of view. Children go through a stage where they are extremely self-absorbed. The world revolves around their desires and needs. This is a normal stage of childhood where the child is asserting their individuality and independence. The problem arises when the behavior is carried over into adulthood, then it can have a negative effect on intimacy, communication and our relationships.
People who need to be right have little patience for others.
They perceive their ideas as the right way to do things and their viewpoint as the right way to think. A differing opinion is a direct affront to their sense of well-being and they can become extremely aggressive in their defense of themselves. They tend to alienate others due to their insistence on being right. The importance of the issue in question doesnt seem to have any relevance. Anger and a lack of empathy seem to be the rule of thumb. Have you ever been discussing something fervently with your spouse and at some point you lose the thread on what it was that you were even talking about? But you still have all the emotion and the anger and you are still pressing your ‘point’ even though you no longer know what your point is? You may be firmly in the grip of the Being Right disease!!!
If you cant say ‘Amen‘ then say ‘ouch‘ as my pastor used to say!!
Men and women are very different. We each have a totally unique set of DNA that will never be replicated short of cloning. I dont think the same as my Namaste does and vice-versa. Our brains are wired differently. What seems totally natural and easy for me to do may be close to impossible for her and vice versa. When we have had different ways of looking at a particular issue I’ve discovered over time that its easy to get caught in the thought pattern; ‘If I can see this so clearly, why in the world cant you? The reality is that just because I can see things a certain way does not mean that she can. Nor does it make me better or right. Just different. Websters dictionary states the following as a definition of the word right: conforming to facts or truth; most favorable or desired. Can someones opinion or idea be right because it is considered as conforming to the truth or a fact? By the way, whose truth? Or better yet, two viewpoints can each conform to the truth so which one is more right? Can someones communication on a subject be the most favorable or desired? That is highly relative and I think that is the point. It is all relative.
There’s a difference between ‘right’ and ‘self righteousness’.
When we simply MUST be right – that seems to be more akin to the definition of self-righteous which Websters defines as being convinced of one’s own righteousness, especially in contrast with the actions and beliefs of others -we come across as self-righteous, i.e., someone who feels that their way of seeing and doing things is inherently superior to that of others. Why do we feel such an intense need to be right? Myriad reasons come to mind: self esteem issues, low self-confidence, the past running the present, remnants of childhood adaptations, ego-centric behavior, a ‘win at any cost’ mentality – the list goes on and on. I am of the opinion that it isnt so much the reasons (although it is important to understand why we do certain things) behind why we need to be right rather the self-knowledge that we are indeed involved in this kind of self-destructive behavior. We are responsible for how we communicate, what we say to each other, for how we react to each other. When we are caught in the grip of self-righteousness its very easy to lose sight of this basic fact. What are the costs of being right? We come across as a know-it-all, which alienates those we love and negatively impacts our relationships. We isolate ourselves. We turn away intimacy, connectedness and love. We become an island unto ourselves. Most impactful is the fact that we close ourselves off to the beauty of what our relationship has to offer because we think we know best. We will never recognize where the next opportunity for growth or depth in our relationship lies if we do not remain open to possibilities. To remain receptive to the opportunities that are being offered to us, we must keep an open mind and heart. We must learn to listen to what she or he has to say. We must be aware and conscious of what is being offered to us at any given moment. We must realize that there is much to gain from listening and not speaking. If I am too busy pushing my agenda, I cannot possibly hear what is being said and therefore I may miss out on what could be an opportunity to experience deep learning and personal growth. Maybe you’re not a spiritual person and you don’t believe that the universe is sending messages all the time for what is best and highest in your life, as I do. Then consider this; Looking at the big picture versus the immediate helps put things in perspective. If you don’t get your way, is it a matter of life and death? Will you even remember this incident ten years from now? Some things are simply not worth the effort and being right all the time fits into that category. Think of what it is like to be heard? How do you regard someone who takes a sincere interest in you and what you have to say? Those people who hold a genuine curiosity about others are magnets. We are attracted to them because they make us feel good about ourselves. They in turn are rewarded with deeper friendships, better working relationships, more meaningful and loving personal relationships, a greater degree and depth of intimacy, and a universe that continually opens with more possibilities. Here’s the Truth:
The best part about this – you can start today . Start by simply noticing if you are overly invested in being right when you have a discussion with your beloved. Just notice how you are being and ask yourself, why? Imagine being in their shoes and seeing through their eyes. What do you look like from their viewpoint? Is it a picture you like? If not, how could you do things differently? As you notice and do things differently you may start to see dramatic changes. Or the changes may be subtler. As we learn to do things differently, to react differently in our interactions with our beloved, then they start to react differently to us! Your world will open up. You will start feeling more connected. You will learn new things that had remained closed off to you before. New possibilities for a life and love that is more meaningful and fulfilling will appear to you. Being righteous and being self-righteous are at the opposite ends of the spectrum. A life well lived is a life where being right is not the be-all end-all. The most important thing is to love fully, love deeply and to be loved in return. Whenever we feel that sensation of ‘needing to be right’ – its always helpful to ask yourself..”What would LOVE say or do in this very situation?” Then proceed.