Who wants to be wrong? No one.
Yet, the need to be right can get you into a lot of tight spots. And it’s an approach that won’t help you change anything. Instead, it keeps you stuck.
Being Right is Human
Don’t beat yourself up if you know you tend to want to prove yourself right…often. It’s human nature to want to be right. We don’t like being wrong and consider it a reflection on who we are. If we are wrong, we think we look bad. And we will do just about anything not to look bad.
However, our need to be right can become an addiction. Like a bad habit, it’s something we do automatically or unconsciously, and we can’t live without it. It helps us maintain our sense of equilibrium. If we are right, we know we are okay.
I get it. I don’t want to be wrong either, and I like to look good. But the need to be right does me no good at all. It doesn’t help my relationships. It doesn’t change anything in my life for the better, and it doesn’t provide solutions to problems. And it definitely doesn’t make me happy.
Give up the Need to be Right
So, I suggest we give up the need to be right. One of my clients did it for Lent, but I recommend you and I do it now. Right now.
To give up your need to be right, first, you must become conscious of when you feel that desire to make someone or something wrong. Notice when your attitude turns toward, “They’re wrong,” “That’s wrong,” or “I know better.”
When you notice that happening, make a shift. Do something different. Specifically, drop that need to be right!
You can only do that when you are aware it’s happening, though. Like any addiction, you’ll break it by creating a new and more-positive habit. You do that by consistently doing something else.
5 Ways to Stop Needing to be Right
I know of five ways to give up the need to be right. Give them a try.
- Ask the age-old question: Would you rather be right or happy? Most of us would rather be happy, but we often equate being right with being happy. In fact, when you make someone else wrong, deep down inside, you don’t feel good (or right) about your actions…or yourself. That’s why you’ll never be happy as long as you insist others are wrong.
- Consider that you want to be right to justify yourself or your actions in some way. Maybe you want to prove you are smarter, not wrong, better, or that it wasn’t your fault. Drop the justifications; the need to be right diminishes—or disappears. Your reasons tend to end up as blame and excuses, neither of which improve a situation, relationship, or how you feel about yourself.
- Stop telling yourself you aren’t proving the other person wrong but just proving that you are right. In fact, you possess the need to make the other person wrong. If you accomplish that goal, on some level, you believe you will feel better about yourself. (As mentioned, on another level you will feel worse.Instead, try allowing the other person to be right. Doing so is as easy as saying, “You know, you are right.” And those words do not mean you are wrong. Two people can be right.
- Start small. Taking small steps is good advice when you want to change any unsupportive habit. You could go cold turkey—break your addiction fast! Or look for little opportunities to practice dropping your need to be right.For example, don’t tell the waiter he took your order incorrectly. You said, “dressing on the side,” but the dressing came on the salad. You can eat it the way this one time or say, “I would prefer the dressing on the side. Is there a way we can correct this situation?” Or order another salad and ask, “Did you get that? I’d like the dressing on the side.”
Let’s say your driving on the highway, and a car pulls sharply in front of your vehicle. Fight your urge to shout, “You’re a jerk! You cut me off! You don’t know how to drive!” Also, don’t give in to your desire to speed up and tailgate him or to pull around him and wave your fist at him through the window as you pass. Instead, consider that maybe you weren’t paying attention to his need to change lanes or merge and, therefore, didn’t slow down to let him in. Or admit, “Wow…that was a bit scary and dangerous. I’m glad we are both okay. I’ll give him some more space.”Get used to allowing for the possibility that you aren’t right and the other person is not wrong.
- Focus on what’s right with everything! The need to be right makes you focus on what is wrong. To counteract this tendency, stop looking for what’s wrong. Instead, look for what’s right. When you change your focus in this way, you’ll discover fewer opportunities to point your finger and say, “That’s wrong,” “You’re wrong,” or “I am right.”
Don’t expect your attitude about being right to change overnight. It takes consistent work to break the habit of proving everyone else wrong. When you eliminate your addiction to being right, you’ll experience improvement in almost every area of your life.
Do you have another technique or tool that help you lessen your need to be right? Share it with me a comment below.
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