People love being right. Anytime we get the chance to be right we seem to take it. Being right, and its corollary, making someone else wrong, is like an addiction. It's as bad for us as smoking, over-eating, gambling, or any fill-in-the-blank vice; you know it's not good for you, but you like doing it so much that in the moment, you don't care and you can't seem to help yourself.
While we are compelled to be right by our survival instinct, we also have a choice. It really seems as though we can't help it, but we can; we just don't want to. Why not? Because from where we are looking, the benefits seem great! However, what we don't seem to pay attention to is that there are also costs involved.
Do you even know what the benefits and the costs are?
Most of us have never actually thought that through. Could you even put them into words?
Let's take a look and see what we see...
- You get to be right!
- What a great rush that is
- You feel smart and you feel accomplished
- Maybe you get a jolt of spite or vindictiveness
- You get to feel better than the other person – smug, and
- You get to stick it to them.
I'm sure there's more, but this is a good start. Awesome!
- You've made them wrong, and you've also made them feel stupid, small, worthless, less than
- You've diminished their power
- You've disrespected them
- Your relationship with them has been lessened, and
- Your value in their eyes has gone down a notch.
If you get a sense of any of that, or if you have a conscience, right after you get the payoff,
- You might start to feel bad about yourself or about the situation.
- They might not forgive you
- Your stress levels are impacted
- Are you getting riled up? Losing sleep?
- Are you putting off things you need to do, such as work, paying bills, or being productive because you're thinking about what happened, or reliving what happened?
If you share the story about what happened with your friends or family,
- Now they are impacted by it.
- Do they really want to hear it?
- Have you put them in the middle?
- What do they think of you now?
I'm sure there's more, but this is a good start.
Ask yourself: Is being right worth it? Is it REALLY worth it? Is being right worth the price?
Someone once said, “You can be right, or you can be happy, but you can't be both.” I think that's true. But I'm not going to be right about it... I'd rather be happy.
What's your take?
Caren Field (MA, LLPC) is a professional individual and couples counselor with a Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, and has been studying human nature since 1998 and has been in private practice since 2007. Her latest project, a series of workshops called Liberating with Honor, is designed to teach people how to heal themselves (and others) from emotional injures and how to set themselves free!
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