The Cost of Being Right
What it means to lay down the sword: It is amazing to me how couples lose sight of all virtues of kindness, consideration and respect in their relationship communication, for the sake of being right. I have observed the all-consuming process of a partner defending his or her stance, as if they were marching onto a battlefield. Loaded with ammunition, they seem to be on a strategic mission to win, blinded by the cost of any possible damage. Victory is the ultimate goal. “I am right, you are wrong” usually followed by the “see? once again…” kind of reinforcing message. If this sounds remotely familiar, let’s take a look at the possible root causes at work here. Why is the notion of being right, by proving someone else wrong, so alluring? And why does it manifest all to often in primary relationships - the very place we are supposed to feel safe and supported? Well, once again, by design of Relationship, we get to play out our themes in life. Relationship is the stage in which we reenact. Over and over again. This is why we may notice patterns; repetitive themes that resurface in different situations. Let’s look at some probable causes of this theme of needing to be right: ● The Injustice Wound. One might still be protesting an early experience of something that just wasn’t fair, or wasn’t right. A small injustice is memorable to a child, at a time when an assertive voice was not yet developed, when all one could do (if allowed) was kick and scream. Ever notice that similar quality in your adult conflicts...red flag! ● Humiliation Trauma. Perhaps an early association was formed around being wrong or making a mistake. If humiliation, punishment, or verbal abuse (or worse) occurred at that time, then one learns it’s too risky to be incorrect. Here’s where one will go to great lengths to avoid this position. These traumas live on in our memory cells and drive us to defend, over and over again. ● Righteousness . An illusion of control. Denial that we are all flawed. That the world is flawed. Life is riddled with variables and subjectiveness. Black and White thinking is an illusion of order and control, and reduces the overwhelm of it all. We know it all, and that’s that! ● One-upping. Not feeling safe enough in the relationship to be wrong and have it be okay. Is there blaming or even subtle ridicule? Is a hierarchy being established to avoid vulnerability - to ward off criticism or devaluation? These are tough questions and they are critical when we project the sustainability of a couple for the long haul. Warning: if there are elements of devaluing in your conflicts, you are in what I call The Pattern of Demise. Get help, as resentment is insidious and will progress to destroy. Observe if you are dishing this out. Observe if you are on the receiving end. Neither is okay. ● Ego Compensation. The obvious need to always appear smart, correct, in-the-know, when the deeper belief about oneself is quite the opposite.
So, what does it mean to be wrong… Ever notice how nice it is to hear someone say unabashedly, “oh, sorry, guess I was wrong” or “you have a point there; I guess that’s another way to look at it”. How refreshing! and attractive… Where in all this can you recognize how you default to this position? Can you find small ways to practice letting go of the need to be right? Isn’t it exhausting? Perhaps it time to lay down the sword...