Be Free or Be Right—You Choose

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Oct 282014

There are many times in my life when I have been so invested in being right about a stance that I took that I gave up the freedom associated with accepting things as they are. Let me explain what I mean with an example.

On one occasion I attended a meeting at a hotel in San Francisco that didn’t conclude until after 1 AM. When I went to the parking lot to claim my car, I discovered that it had closed at 1, and my car was not available. At this point I started a conversation with myself about how unfair it was for the lot to have closed. I was very upset, and even though I was able to get a room at the hotel and spend the night, I was unable to sleep. I remained upset for about a week, trying to convince myself that I had been right to assume that the lot would be open when my meeting ended.

During this period of upset, I was also aware of the energy I was pouring into this situation as I replayed the event in my head.  If I had been able to simply accept what I could not change, i.e. the fact that my car was unavailable until morning, I could have moved on with my life focusing my energy on productive areas. If I had been able to let go, I would have been free of the dilemma.

So why did I hold on to the stance that the lot should have been open? One of the bad habits of my life, which I now have mostly overcome, is the need to be right, to live in the belief that my way is always the right way. And my observation is that most people have a version of this same habit. In my case, I believe it was born out of the need to be perfect, to make no mistakes. Since I’m not perfect, this led me to pour much of my life energy into being right, instead of realizing and accepting my imperfections and moving on in life free of the need to defend myself.

The first step in freeing one’s self of this debilitating habit is to recognize it and to see the alternative to accept the way things are, not the way we think they should be.  This leads to realization of the cost of being right in terms of energy expended, providing the incentive to let go of that habit. In addition, being right can have devastating effects on relationships which can be even more costly. Again, understanding the cost provides an incentive to let go and enjoy the freedom of accepting things as they are.

 Posted by at 4:02 pm