Friday, December 9, 2011

The cost of being right

Isn’t true that we always want to be “right” about everything?  I talked at length on the last post about the power fear has over us.  Well, the second part of the fear and what it furthers in our lives is our obsession with being right.  This mostly comes into our lives through our relationships, personally and professionally. You see we cannot turn off our minds. We have these things in her mind called automatic thoughts, which I will go into greater detail in another post but they're always there. Right when you wake up in the morning it starts, unfortunately that little voice is not typically telling you things like, “it's going to be a great day” or “you can accomplish anything you want today”. 
That voice in our head is typically telling us things that revolve around judging and assessing not only ourselves but also everyone else in our lives, pointing out everything that is wrong and what is not going to go right with our day. We are constantly trying to give meaning to what people have told us and then we focus our response around wanting to be right. Our meaning is usually not only wrong, but also self-serving to convince us we are right.  Whether it be the winning of an argument or proving someone is incompetent, whatever it is it's all about wanting to be right. It would be great if it stopped there, but we continue into not only wanting to be right, but wanting to show the other person that they are wrong. We are so obsessed with wanting to be right; it's like a heroin addict looking for his next fix. We can't live without it; it's what drives us during our day and through our lives. Some people get so excited about being right; that it puts a smile on their face just thinking about it. We enjoy it, we seek it, and it simply makes us feel better about ourselves, it gives us a false sense of power in relationships.

The problem with this obsession is that there is a cost. Just like there is a cost for the drug addict, which is usually their job, personal relationships and a healthy body. Surprising enough the cost of being right could also cost you your job, your personal relationships and your health. You might be able to prove your point, but like I said there's a cost and that cost can mean the end of very important relationships, like your marriage and very lucrative careers. Nobody wants to be in the marriage where the other person constantly points out that they are right and you're wrong, nobody wants an employee who was insistent on being right all the time. We are very unconscious of this process and the way we say things that it happens automatically for most of us, we don’t even know we are doing it.  What I'm really talking about is actually at a much deeper level in our minds and it is the opinions we form of people based on the things they say or do, and the decisions that we make on how we respond to people in different situations. It's the deep thoughts that we have throughout the day that constantly shape this concept, and it all revolves around us wanting to be right at all cost.

So what do we do about it? As always the first step is simply being aware of it. Stop yourself when you're judging and assessing about something that happened or something somebody said and realize this is “me” trying to be right, and that’s not right. Once you have that awareness you will shape your response and your opinions in much different ways. Stop attaching meaning to things that are said to you or actions of others, most of the time the meaning you attach is wrong.  The bottom line is that in most situations it doesn't matter who's right. All that matters is that you are having authentic conversations and working collaboratively to find solutions and free up space for new possibilities to develop. When we take the time in our personal and professional relationships to set up an environment of mutual respect and communication, trust will develop and authentic sharing can take shape.  Be willing to say every once in a while, “I was wrong, how can we fix it”, especially if you were wrong.