I really don’t like to be wrong. How about you?
Are you someone who wants — even needs — to be right most of the time? All of the time? Do you like to have the last word in a disagreement? Do you get frustrated when others don’t agree with your opinions? I do, much more often than I’d like. And it never feels good.
Being right is so overrated, especially when it comes at the expense of basic human kindnesses. Inherent in the need to be right is the desire — consciously or not — to put ourselves above others, to make them wrong in order to appease our own insecurities and our ego’s need to be perfect.
Where’s the fun in that? Where’s the love in that? There are so many healthier choices we can make than needing to be right. Let’s start making them!
When we find our minds locked into the need to be right — whether in an argument, a discussion or a casual conversation — let’s call on our hearts to integrate the following five virtues.
We can’t always agree with each other, nor should we always try to. That doesn’t mean everyone who disagrees with us is wrong, or that we’re always right. There’s so much to learn from the ideas and opinions of others when we stay open to listening to them. When we give up the need to be right, we communicate and listen on a deeper level, with more understanding and acceptance, and with less judgment and resistance. This is how dialogues move forward and connections deepen. Also, our openness almost always encourages openness in those with whom we communicate.
It really is possible to be passionate about what we’re trying to express without being attached to how it’s received. When we are attached to what we’re saying, and to the need to be right about it, we often end up forcing our ideas on others, or distorting our beliefs simply to gain the approval of others. Detachment gives us the freedom to communicate without the pressure of needing to be seen as right. Through detachment, we can find peace with however our comments are received and with whatever direction a conversation takes. Who’s right and who’s wrong becomes irrelevant.
The need to be right is rooted deeply in the ego, and one thing our egos are not is humble. Let’s take a breath and swallow our pride when someone says something we believe to be wrong. We don’t have to prove them so. Even more, we need to be willing to be wrong ourselves. It’s not about compromising our truths, but about being humble within the expression of them. It doesn’t matter whether we’re right or wrong. What’s important is how we handle ourselves in either case.
Though the need to be right enters all areas of our lives, it’s especially damaging during conflicts with those we love. When we believe we’ve been wronged, we often want to prove to the one who’s hurt or betrayed us just how wrong they are. We want to hurt them back. Instead, the focus needs to be on forgiveness. It’s important to share our feelings and express how we feel hurt, but not without a commitment to forgiving the action and the person, no matter how wrong we believe them to be. When the desire to forgive takes precedent, the need to be right dissipates, opening the door for a more conscious and healthy connection.
Dr. Wayne Dyer famously wrote, “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.” We all struggle with the insecurities of our egos, with the insecurity of being wrong. And a threatened ego will almost always lash out. When we make an effort to prove someone wrong by establishing ourselves as right, we’re being unkind in the process, whether we intend to be or not. Only the ego cares about the distinctions between right and wrong. The heart simply loves and accepts whomever is on the other side of the conversation. Let’s operate from our hearts, with kindness.
The next time we feel ourselves pressing to make our point and needing to be right, let’s take a moment to remember that being right is not the goal. It’s unimportant. Let’s try to integrate some of the above qualities into our way of speaking, knowing that by doing so we invite a more conscious and loving exchange with whomever is on the other side of our dialogue.
What other qualities do you bring into your disagreements to keep them from being about who’s right and who’s wrong? I’d love to know.