For some people, this exploration might prove to be a little deep. Possibly weird. For others, it could be timely, relevant and valuable. If you’re uncomfortable with anything that’s a little philosophical and psychological, you might want to come back tomorrow. If that’s not the case, dive in.
The need to be right; what an unnecessary, yet very popular, practice.
Not sure about you but I’ve had encounters with ‘need to be right’ people on an almost-daily basis for much of my life; covering everything from religion, psychology, philosophy and happiness to marriage, nutrition, business and training techniques. I’ve been corrected, chastised, rebuked and even insulted. Some of it well-intentioned.
And if I’m being honest, of course there were times when my ego, insecurity and fear resulted in me asserting my thoughts and beliefs in a way that, looking back, now embarrasses me. Sorry world. Thank goodness for greater awareness, good teachers and new days.
The older I get the more I realise how much I don’t know, how very little is certain and how things are not always as they seem. And how okay that all is. For me, there’s something liberating in saying “I don’t really know, I’m not sure” or “I was wrong about that”. No explaining, no justifying and no excuse making. Just honesty and humility. Coming from someone who speaks, writes and educates for a living, this has been something of a personal breakthrough.
It seems to me that the need to be right is an unnecessary, self-inflicted burden that many of us carry around like an enormous emotional and psychological anchor. With the anchor typically being a by-product of our fear or ego. Or both. Fear of embarrassment, loss of identity, loss of credibility and finally, fear of being wrong. For some people, the idea that their long-held belief in something or someone may be misguided, misinformed or possibly even totally wrong, will be too terrifying and uncomfortable to consider; even in the face of logic and evidence.
Over the last ten years, I’ve had to unlearn many things and question many others which I had been taught were matters of fact, when in reality, they were little more than stories, theories, concepts and misguided beliefs.
For so many of us, our security comes, in part, via our knowing; our certainty about how the world works. Our version of the world, anyway. The thought that things may not be as they seem, or as we have believed them to be for so long, is inconceivable, so when we are confronted with a perspective, insight, experience or revelation that is at odds with our current version of reality, the ‘need to be right’ monster often emerges.
When ‘what we believe’ is interchangeable with ‘who we are’ (so often the case), then it’s almost impossible to be open-minded about our beliefs because our ‘right-ness’ (as opposed to righteousness), forms the basis of our identity and sense of self.
Over the years, people much smarter than me have taught that non-negotiable attachment to, and identification with, beliefs, knowledge and traditions can be just as destructive as being defined by our wealth, body, social status or achievements. Just as we are not our house, bank balance or job description, neither are we our knowledge, beliefs or ideas.
From a personal growth perspective, letting go of the need to be right is quite possibly one of the most profound and liberating things we can do.
But then again, I could be wrong.