There’s a human pattern that I have come to discover — that most people would rather be “right” than be “happy”.
Sounds a bit crazy, right? I invite you to take a journey with me while I share my experience and perspective.
Some people spend their entire life fighting at all cost to defend their “story” (i.e. their side, their perspective, and their beliefs); no matter how detrimental it may be to them and their relationships. This is not something that’s limited to people who are perceived as self-righteous or opinionated, it also applies to you and I. As human beings, we were wired to be this way. Our natural instinct is to defend ourselves from anything that appears to be an opposing view or a direct attack on our belief system. It’s not always confrontational in nature or an outsider that creates the opposing view. Sometimes it’s our internal voice that creates the conflict. That being said, sometimes the need to be right can come in the form of an argument with someone or it can also be a personal life decision based on a belief or experience that was never challenged or examined. For example, a person who has been cheated on (sometimes more than once), may choose to believe that all women are cheaters and therefore have problems trusting them. They may even write-off the possibility of ever being in a healthy long-term relationship even though they strongly desire it. There are many things that pique our curiosity that we never experience because of our pre-conceived notions. Does any of that resonate with you?
Instead of living our lives as it occurs in the present moment, many of us live out our “story”. I have personally struggled with this for most of my life and in some ways, am still struggling with it. But what eventually shifted my way of being was after examining my past and my existing belief system (i.e. my values as well as my priorities).
One of the six human needs, according to Human Needs Psychology, is “significance”. When we feel “right”, we feel “significant”. Thus, many of us associate our self-worth (or our relative significance to others) with how often we are right. But I invite you to challenge that way of thinking. With over seven billion people in the world, all of which have varying knowledge and experiences, do you really think that your opinion or knowledge is always the right one? Let that marinate for a moment before you read on.
The answer to the question above is blindingly obvious to most people, so why is it that we have this ongoing battle between the two needs? I can offer the simple and obvious answer that we don’t always act according to what we know or believe. But that doesn’t get us anywhere, does it? It comes down to what we truly value and how motivated we are with aligning our actions to those values. For example, if your value is to be an effective person and to build strong relationships, you must compromise your need to be right. It doesn’t mean you have to give up being right entirely, it just means that there are other things that take precedence. At work, you’ll need to value other people’s opinions and be a team player or else you’ll be perceived as being stubborn and difficult to work with and naturally this will have an impact on your career. The same holds true with people in your personal life. How you handle moments of conflict with the people in your life will determine the quality of those relationships.
In order to make a permanent shift away from the need to be right, you have to make a conscious decision about the priority of your values. Once your priorities are set and your motivations are clear, you’ll naturally be more mindful when you find yourself on a slippery slope.
Understandably it will be an ongoing battle because you are fighting against human nature. For many of you whom are struggling with this, there’s a freedom and sense of fulfillment that awaits.