Why is it so important for us to be right? We want to be right in our relationships with our significant other, our friends and co-workers. We see battles of “right and wrong” play out in politics, religion and on the world stage. We talk over each other, offend, react in anger and turn towards violence all in the name of being right.
“Right-ness” is a matter of perspective. Unless we are dealing with undeniable facts, i.e., the earth revolves around the sun, then there is always room for perspective, i.e., “Citizen Kane is the greatest movie of all time.” Now the American Film Institute and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences may agree, and rate Citizen Kane as the greatest movie of all time, but that doesn’t mean it is true, it is only true for these bodies of “experts,” and even then, there may be members of those groups who would say otherwise.
So when you are talking with your significant other and he/she says, “you folded the laundry wrong,” that is not a true statement, as there are numerous ways for one to sort, fold and put laundry away. Now, it may be true that you did not fold the laundry the same way as your significant other folds the laundry, but does that mean you are wrong? Of course not! And why do these discussion typically escalate into fighting? Well, we as human beings have an unfortunate knack for not only pontificating about what is right and wrong, but we have a strong tendency towards adding a touch of judgement. In other words, you not only folded the laundry wrong, but it is not good enough for me and now I am unhappy. But this isn’t how it typically comes out of our mouths, is it? That is because our tone typically carries inferred messages that imply things like, “you’re stupid,” “what is wrong with you,” and “I’m annoyed now.” Maybe we even say those things.
Having control in situations such as these strengthens a false sense of self. By making myself right and someone else wrong strengthens my ego and fools me into believing that I’m in control through the attachment to a strong, rigid perspective.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to individual feelings, perspectives and beliefs. We can either fight against those who have differing viewpoints or make room for an alternative point of view. If you care about the individual or individuals with the differing point of view, then accept their stance by giving it some space, free of judgment.
The only true threat to our sense of self comes from rigid belief systems, which when not followed results in anger, anxiety, fear and sadness. Just watch the evening news and see how much conflict arises out these rigid beliefs structures.