Oh man, do I love being right. I love being right at home, I love being right in the workplace, I love being right in my marriage. And in my defence, I feel like I am right most of the time (I mean, really, actually, I think I’m always right). Did I mention I love being right?
Last night I found myself in a fight with my husband. He went to dinner with friends, I thought he was home late, actually it wasn’t so bad – but I wasn’t going to admit that was I? No ma’am, because I need to be right. So we fought until the late hours, I went to sleep still mad because my husband refused to admit that I was absolutely right and I woke up with the worst headache ever.
You know what the worst thing about this episode was? That I knew that I had messed up. I wasn’t right. And so I kept adding things to the discussion that we had solved and buried months and years ago, just so that I could be right. I would convince him and myself that I was right. My pride had gotten in the way. And whilst I knew that it had, it remained more important to be right than to get it right. I was consciously sabotaging myself and the discussion, and couldn’t stop.
There is one significant change when comparing this argument with arguments I’ve had before. At least this time I realised I was playing the game in an unfair manner. I could see myself and know that I would regret this in the morning. And of course I did. So that’s progress – no matter how small it may seem. And so I got up this morning, I apologised and put on my shame pants and admitted to dear hubby that I had been quite unreasonable in my quest of being right.
I am definitely not there yet, as the little incident above so eloquently portrays. But, this is what I have learned so far about being right:
- Consider what makes you happy. In most cases, even when I actually am right I end up feeling alone and empty. I reckon this has to do with picking your battles. Us right fighters will have a tendency picking any battle just to hear those sweet words “you are right”. But in most cases, the battle wasn’t worth it and we end up on the losing side.
- At the start of being right lies something else that I tend to ignore because it doesn’t bring out a lovely colour in me: judgement. The two edged sword of being right is this: if I believe I am right, I must believe that you are wrong. And not only do I believe you are wrong, I feel a strong desire to vocalise that and make sure that you know that I think you are wrong. Sucks, right? Because honestly, the world isn’t black and white and there are many grey areas. In addition, I’m not that important that my opinion should be vocalised at any given opportunity. Sometimes, when you have nothing nice to say, just shut up.
- I love this idea that in any discussion you need to be open to the idea that somebody else has some information that you don’t have that could change the way you think and feel about things. Do you know when you do absolutely not bring this quality to the table? When your only goal is to be right. You are robbing yourself of the opportunity to learn something new or gain a new insight. And by you I mean me. So I need to stay humble and entertain the idea that I don’t have all the answers.
- Being open to other ideas is not the same as being weak. It actually makes you a person who is so confident in your own being, that you don’t get shaken by the very thought that you may have made an error in judgement. It actually makes you a person who is very aware of the fact that you don’t know what you don’t know, and that you have enough self confidence to understand that it takes a real man or woman to admit that.
- Stillness of the mind helps to understand that this eagerness to be right is the ego playing tricks on you. My husband ‘being late’ is neither good nor bad – he just arrived at the time when he arrived. Arguably, there are situations which are better and worse. But for the most part, I am learning through meditation that every situation in essence just is. It’s how I think and feel about it that makes it good or bad, and drives me towards this need to be right.
I don’t have all the answers. I do know that this need is hard to silence. I also know that it is absolutely necessary that I do so anyway. On those occasions when I have, I found myself in enjoyable discussions and realised that it’s absolutely fine that there be no right or wrong. And that being right is something different completely than getting it right. Being right is focussed on the ego, closes you off mentally and emotionally and enhances separation. Getting it right means bringing your opinion to the table, having a grown up conversation and focussed on harmony. By no means does that mean you don’t get to voice your thoughts, it means that you understand that somebody else doesn’t agree with you. And that that is absolutely ok.
Do you experience this insatiable need to be right? Or are you usually on the receiving end of a right-fighter bully? Let me know, I would love to hear your thoughts.