Being Right or Being Happy
Updated: Jul 15, 2021
by Kristen Milliron, LCSW, Denver Mental Health Therapist
We all like being right and hearing someone say to you, “you were right” feels good. Why do we want to be right? Do we sacrifice outionships in order to prove that we are right and they are wrong? Why do we do this? Is the need to be right really that important? What need are we looking to fill by being right?
The majority of arguments stem from 2 people who have opposing thoughts and beliefs and both believe that they are right and need to convince that other person that they are wrong. People often sacrifice relationships with those closest to them in order to prove they are right, often about some insignificant detail. The perfectionist often says “there is a right and wrong way to do something and my way is the right way.”
"You have your way, I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way: it does not exist" -- Friedrich Nietzsche
In relationships the “truth” or “being right” does not set you free, it is the enemy and often the cause of conflict and unhappiness. If you are having problems in your relationship at home or work, often it is because you believe you are right about something.
Being acknowledged for being right only isolates us from those we want close. “ I told you so” shames and diminishes others. If we “win” the argument with our partner, what impact does that have on the relationship and does the win even feel good after it has potentially damaged the relationship? The most destructive form of being right is to blame someone for the problem or conflict in your relationship.
So, how do you handle differences with others in a healthy way, keep your integrity, and maintain the relationship?
● True happiness comes from collaboration with others; not competition.
● Giving up the need to be right is not easy; it takes great humility and self awareness.
● We have to confront our fear that we don’t have all the answers, that we are not
important enough for the other person to give in or give up.
● Put your relationship first and let go of your need to be right.
● Find the truth in what the other person is saying. Shifting focus and finding the truth in
what the other person is saying can transform the relationship.
● Compromise and understanding can have a very powerful and positive impact on our
● Happiness comes from contributing to the success of others by giving them empathy
I have learned that when I am able to step back, support the other person, and make them feel heard and appreciated, this has a positive impact on the relationship. When“being right” no longer matters to me, I can repair the rupture in relationships, reduce stress, and increase self-fulfillment and happiness.
In his book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson sums it up...
“People who base their self-worth on being right about everything prevent themselves from learning from their mistakes. They miss the opportunity to take on new perspectives and empathize with others. They close themselves off to new and important information. It's far more helpful to assume that you're ignorant and don't know a whole lot. This keeps you unattached to superstitious or poorly informed beliefs and promotes a constant state of learning and growth.”
The most important thing to remember is to recognize your patterns, and implement tools to change your behavior. Have a someone who you can talk to about situations and conflicts. Check in with yourself, challenge yourself and reach out to friends, co-workers, family or a mental health professional.
I believe that prioritizing your mental health is a daily practice. Need help putting yourself first? Reach out.
Kristen Milliron, LCSW sees patients in-person at The Facility in Denver, CO and is accepting new patients (Telehealth and In-person).
Learn more about Kristen's Therapy Style here.
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