I have only recently come to terms with my pernicious need to be right…all the time. I slowly started to recognize this tendency in me years ago when a particular person came into my life and mirrored the very same behaviour right back at me. This provided fertile ground for conflict, as part of wanting to be right is its even darker side of insisting then that someone has to be wrong. And there is just no kindness in that.
In my best moments, I can view this person with the same tendency as me, as a launching pad for growth, even a gift, for without them I never would have become so painfully aware of this part of my personality.
I would have continued to blindly go around making everyone feel small and wrong in order to serve my need to be right.
I can see now that no one was excluded: children, parents, husband, siblings, co-workers, even experts in their fields, at some point I would wear them down and make them concede…that I was right. Now, because the need to be right has been flung back in my face so many times (literally EVERY SINGLE TIME I was with this person!), I have been forced to deal with it.
And I am flabbergasted at how long it has taken me to give up this habit but I persevere in the effort to let it go. I have an awareness now of when I am falling into “I am rightness” and I am slowly and systematically working on being kind rather then being right.
And I have noticed that, miraculously, as I made room for myself to not be right, it created space around the tension that had existed with this person for so long.
As I let go of the need to be right and – with a deep breath — embraced the possibility and reality that I could be wrong, this person became or certainly seemed less strident in their own need to be right.
It was like we were both stepping back and there was a buffer or a middle ground that offered a different way for us to relate that wasn’t about right and wrong. The fact was, this person wasn’t pushing so hard to be right because I wasn’t offering something to push against. As often as I can, I just let this person be right…because it feels kinder than pushing back.
I can’t tell you it’s perfect. I can’t tell you that I never feel the overwhelming urge to be right taking me over…but I can tell you that I am so much more aware of it now, thanks to the presence of this person in my life, and most of the time I can laugh at it and laugh at myself.
And so I’m not always right…but I’m free.
Free in the presence of this person, as I never have been before, and free to appreciate the grace that exists in all the people I know and love who figured this out a long time ago – that they could step back and make room for me to be right, even when I was wrong, because they were choosing to be kind, instead of right.