Do You Always Have to Be Right?
What is it about being right? Why are we all so obsessed with the need for it? Is this really what we want in a relationship, in a conversation, when making decisions and finding solutions? Being right – it’s the cause of most arguments. If neither of you held on to your initial positions, it would be easy-peasy to explore alternatives until you found one that worked for both of you.
When you are motivated by the need to be right, you tend not to listen. You tend to be preparing your arguments and prepping your response in your mind the whole time you are discussing things with your partner. There’s no room for listening; there’s no room for relating. The right-wrong approach is really a form of war. It creates a sense of being on opposing sides. This is the antithesis to peaceful relating.
And yet it is so hard to change your position. It feels like a castle on a hill, giving you a commanding view of the entire landscape and providing a safe place against attacks. If you abandoned it, you would feel lost in a strange place with strange customs; you would be vulnerable to disease, food poisoning and robbery. Far better instead to storm your partner’s castle, defeat them and show them that yours is the only safe and sane place to live.
Setting aside the metaphor, let’s look at some of the reasons why people cling to being right.
- There is the ego. It’s humiliating to be wrong. If you’re wrong about this, what else might you be wrong about? You can’t trust yourself quite so much and neither can others.
- There is the sense of security. Whether the argument you lose is big or small, your world changes, whether it be the physical world or your belief system. All adjustments are unsettling, whether it’s that the living room gets painted blue or you learn that, contrary to the senses, the earth actually goes around the sun.
- Or you might cling to being right because, well, you’re right. It’s this way to Phoenix; that way goes to Tucson. A 15% tip comes to $6.00. But if neither you nor your partner are wedded to being right, you’re probably going to muddle your way to the right conclusion.
- Everyone wants to feel seen, acknowledged, appreciated and accepted. Often the need to be right is a cry for those things. If the relationship fulfills these needs, you will be less likely to need to be right. You will have less motivation to push for separate solutions, and be more likely to feel in union with your partner and want to find mutual solutions.
The wonderful experiences of intimacy that are possible when you are seeking for mutual solutions can only come about when you realize you are on the same side. There is no right or wrong in this view of things. You are sharing in a co-creative experience of finding something new that is the product of both of you, and not the ideas of the one who can shout the loudest or is most clever at getting their way. This way of making decisions and finding solutions is fun. It is an almost magical process that leaves both partners feeling closer than ever.
We have a saying that pretty much sums up our feeling about being right: “Be loving today. You can be right tomorrow!”