Even if we don’t want to admit it, there were situations when we wanted to prove we were right even when deep down inside we knew the opposite was true. But we ignored that feeling and kept pushing on. Maybe we were lucky and had our way but if not we let the argument escalate until we said something that we couldn’t take back. As a result, the good relationship was ruined and never to be repaired again.
This happened to me a lot in the past. I was arrogant and inconsiderate of those close to me. The need to be right and tell them how it really is was very strong, almost overwhelming at times. It ruined a lot of friendships in my life.
Since starting my meditation practice, I became aware of this pattern and learned to avoid it. Now I can talk to someone without trying to impose my opinion on them. When the need to be right returns, I observe it and let it go. Being aware of it has turned into a spiritual practice.
In this article, I would like to share how I use mindfulness to counteract the need to be right and I hope it can be helpful to anyone who reads it.
It Doesn’t Mean We Have to Agree with Everyone
It’s completely fine to have views and opinions. What’s important here is to be aware of our state of consciousness when we talk to someone.
We need to remember how it feels to lose an argument. When we do that we can clearly see how our sense of self gets diminished. In other words, we feel how our egos are hurt as a result.
This pain creates a lot of food for negative thoughts that we play over and over in our heads. We refuse to admit we were wrong and feel angrier than before.
It contributes to a sense of division and separateness between us and “others.” By giving in to this pattern, we start to divide people into “right” and “wrong.” While being in this mode, we’re one step away from labeling people into groups and categories.
How to Let Go of the Need to Be Right
When we feel like we’re about to be involved in a pointless argument, we need to ask ourselves these three questions based on objectivity, compassion, and awareness.
1. The first question is, “Do I know everything?” or “Do I have enough information?”
Even if we think we’re an expert in something, there still might be things we don’t know.
Questioning our knowledge or objectivity is not an easy thing to do. Still, it’s a sobering and humbling habit once we adopt it.
When we think about it, none of us can ever know everything about anything. In the end, it all comes down to personal opinions and points of view.
2. The second question is, “Do I know this person well enough? Or “Do I know why they are acting like this right now?
We can’t truly know the driving force behind someone else’s words or actions. We don’t know about their situation or the experiences they had.
Something must have happened to them to take this stand. We might not see it, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not there.
So need to put ourselves in another person’s shoes. For a moment, we should think about why they say this or think that way. There is always a reason.
3. The third question is, “Do I know why I’m acting like this right now?”
When we are in the middle of an argument, we can greatly benefit from turning our attention to the emotion we feel at that moment.
When we do that, we might discover that we are angry, frustrated, impatient. We realize how much hostility and negative energy we’re producing at that very moment.
After we’ve noticed the emotion, we should stay with it for a while and not resist it. Soon, it will become clear it’s just a feeling, it’s not who we really are.
We’ll notice a tiny space between our awareness and negative emotion. At that moment, we will be able to slow down and realize that this argument doesn’t matter that much.
If we repeat this process in conflict situations, it will become our spiritual practice. We’ll have so much more control over our need to be right. And we’ll notice how other peoples’ behavior will also start to change around us.