The Prison of Needing to Be Right

So often I enter conversations and within a few moments find myself on one side or another of an issue in the Right/Wrong paradigm. What I mean by Right/Wrong paradigm is that there are two sides to any disagreement or issue and depending on who is talking, a very different way of looking at them and agreeing on what they mean and are worth.

When we don’t agree with how someone sees something or it doesn’t fit our needs or wants, it is easy to go to the Right/Wrong paradigm defining our opinion as right and they disagreeing opinion as wrong. It’s not actually that surprising as we are taught from a very young age that there is right and wrong and we want to be right. We learn it from our parents, our teachers, our coaches and our friends. It is the way we educate ourselves so it becomes deeply engrained in our psyche.

Right gives us acceptance and approval and wrong gives us rejection and shame. We soon learn that our success in life depends on us being right so we see our survival tied to being right. We see “right” as the only way and so we do whatever we need to do to be right.

Wrong is unacceptable. It has a secondary more hidden negative impact on our relationships. For many of us, for us to be right someone else has to be wrong. The only way we know that we are right and accepted is to not only have someone be wrong but also for them to admit it and say we are right. It is a very divisive act to make someone wrong so you can be right.

The minute we are told or it is implied we are wrong we shift into defensive trying to protect ourselves and make ourselves right. Defending our position is much more important than finding the best or most useful answer. What matters is who is right and who is wrong. The optimum answer is lost in the desire to be right. We call that the Prison of Needing to be Right.

Prison of needing to be Right image

It is as if we become imprisoned in a Prison of Needing to be Right. The act of needing to be right becomes a prison we’ve built around ourselves. When we are accused of being wrong we go into fear and our primitive reptilian brain takes over, having us be run by the part of us that has the emotional maturity of a 4 year old. The separation becomes complete between the two disagreeing parties and all that matters is who is right and who is wrong.

You see it in our government every day now with our legislators more concerned with their principles and who is wrong than doing what is right for the country. We see it in corporate American with the constant stand on the rights of the individual to be free to make as much money as possible when the real costs of their accumulating wealth on the population as a whole is not included in their argument of what is right.

We can’t pass comprehensive gun control laws because some think it isn’t right even in the face of never ending violence as a result of guns availability. A woman’s right to choose ends up with people killed because they didn’t agree with one side or another. All examples of being trapped in the Prison of Needing to be Right. There’s no way out of the need to be right at all costs.

The Right/Wrong paradigm is a trap where we miss the golden opportunity to look at what is best and serves the most, rather than to focus on what is right. In any situation or decision there are an endless number of solutions, none of which are inherently right. In fact in one moment and context what might appear to be the best or “right” solution would be of no importance in another.

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The “right” solution or answer is both contextual and timely and as such is valuable only in the moment and context it is offered. The “wrong solution is probably good in the context it is offered and the issue is to the two parties agreeing with the assumptions driving the question or issue.

That being said, I am asking you to give up the Right/Wrong paradigm and take up another approach. I’m asking you to step out of the Prison of Needing to be Right where your eyes are only on what you believe is the “right” solution, thus making every other solution wrong so that you can be right.

When faced with a question or choice, recognize that there are hundreds of “right” solutions all of which could work. The important thing to do is to find the solution or answer that is the most useful and serving to the highest. Release our selves form the Prison of Needng to be Right

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3 Responses to The Prison of Needing to Be Right

  1. Jennifer valko says:

    This REALLY spoke to me. Thanks Jeff. ❤️

  2. Susie says:

    I love the line in the Course that says “do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?” Love you and all you do!!!

  3. Donna Lipman says:

    Great reminder- it’s so easy, in the moment, to fall into that prison and we don’t even know what we’ve done to ourselves. Thanks, Jeff

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