The Need To Be Right

by Scott Morrice on 05/04/2012

Many (all?) of us suffer from the need to be right. You know, where you are feeling that what you are doing, and what you believe in are the right way of doing things, and the way things are being done by the person across the table from you is so wrong-headed that you are filled to the brim with frustration. Why can’t they see it! It’s so easy. They are so clearly wrong that it is impossible to deal with them!

This all takes a lot of energy.

And it leads to resentments, and hurt—which can follow us for a lifetime. Very quickly the resentments actually start to define the relationship. In fact, they start to be the relationship. We get to a point where we have invested so much in defining the relationship along these lines that it almost becomes impossible to change direction.

And why do we do it? Why is it so important to be right?

Very simply–it is our ego at work—that part of us that defines who we are, for ourselves, by scoring or rating what we believe we are, against what we see in others.

And of course, the easiest way for our ego to accomplish this is to denigrate everybody and everything that isn’t us. By aggressively asserting our rightness (even if it is only done very quietly—in our head).

I think we are all guilty of this to a certain extent, this need to be right. At least I hope we are—I am, and I can tell you my ego can’t stand the thought that everyone does not share this problem!

So much wasted energy.

Now I know that this is not leading-edge stuff. There is a whole self-development industry out there that has been built around this issue. And volumes have been written, and movies and documentaries filmed, just on this very point. In fact the sheer volume of this material alone makes me wary and somewhat skeptical of much of what has been done under this banner. I have already written about my innate skepticism in my Mind, Body, Spirit Issues post. And the premise underlying that post is not something that we can take our eye off of. But—you can’t argue that the problem of our ego asserting our rightness isn’t there either—it very clearly is!

Why all of this now—from me?

Well, a couple of things.

Firstly, a few days ago I ran into a blog post written by Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. entitled Lessons From The Last Round Of Life. In that post Dr. Goldstein writes:

Human beings are social creatures and the fact is, we need one another for support and survival in this world. Too often in the midst of our relationships one person says or does something that offends another and a spiral of hurt and grievance begins between the two.
People get so boiled over with anger inside and make a choice not to connect or make amends with the other because “they don’t deserve it.” What we’re missing in this picture is that this grudge, this boulder of anger we’re carrying within us, is actually hurting us!

For some reason, that struck a chord within me when I read it. Maybe it was telling me something that I needed to know???

And then, today, I ran into a Facebook post by Cheryl Richardson that said:

It takes great courage and maturity to choose love and compassion over being right.

And then she posted a Wall Photo that says:

Apologizing:
Does not always mean that you are wrong and the other person is right.
It just means you value your relationship more than your ego.

I seem to be getting a lot of messages on this point sent my way!

I’ll keep you posted.

  • Lmmd

    Brilliant!
    You have an admirable knack for holding a mirror up to up to human nature and forcing us to take a real good look at ourselves. It is not always a pretty picture.
    Thank you.

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