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09 June, 2012

Being right

"Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?"

That question has been kicking around in my mind for about two decades. I cannot recall if it was a therapist, a self-help book, or my mother who first said it to me. I have placed a large value on being right in my life. But I am not sure it has really brought me where I wanted to be.

Everybody wants to be right. In some situations, there is one right answer and, like it or not, someone is right and someone is wrong. In other cases, it is purely a matter of opinion. There are cases where the cost of "being wrong" is high (e.g. "What time does the flight depart?"). There are far more cases where the consequence is negligible (e.g. "What year did that movie come out?")

It seems that how tightly we cling to right and wrong has more to do with who we are than with the importance of the matter.

Lately, I have been practicing "letting others be right" more often than not. Actually, I am not sure that's true. Let's say I have been doing it more often than I previously did. The most important thing I noticed is that it does not feel bad to "be wrong," even if I think I am right. And, allowing the argument to not happen results in opportunity for relationship building instead of wall building.

Being right sometimes feels worse than being wrong. I think it's because we are spending karma, so to speak. If we let it go, especially without the conflict, we spare all sorts of negative energy. And what's the consequence? Rarely any.

The trickier thing is to be okay with being wrong when someone says to me "I think you are being __________." Whatever it is, if it didn't sound good to me, I want to refute. But this is their perspective. It's their truth. I cannot be right about what they think. Rather than argue or refute, what if I just listen and consider the validity of their words? It's scary sometimes. It requires trusting others and relinquishing control. Not easy stuff.

No wonder we are so inclined to try to be right. It feels safer.

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