Often we are so focused on being “right” that we miss the bigger picture. Sometimes our need for control manifests in our need to be right. Being right can become a type of defense mechanism called reaction formation. Reaction formation protects us from painful or difficult feelings by expressing repressed feelings in a contrasting form. Basically we assume a position or belief that is the opposite of what we really feel because our real feelings cause us too much discomfort. For example if we grew up feeling inadequate or less than others we may adopt a sense of superiority. Putting down others elevates our own sense of efficacy in comparison thereby making us feel better.
When we are emotionally invested in being right all the time it causes collateral damage to ourselves, our relationships and our loved ones. Our incessant desire to be right can rob of us healthy connections and opportunities to grow. Loved ones suffer from our inability to attend to their experience and feelings and our unrelenting quest to prove our value by being “right” no matter the cost. Their own personal worth and self-esteem take a direct hit as well as our relationships with them.
Additionally, we can end up in a vicious cycle, expending an enormous amount of energy and time repeatedly bolstering our feelings of inadequacy by demeaning others. This expenditure of time and energy can be overwhelming at worst and stressful at best.
So how do we stop this cycle? The first step is recognizing what we are doing and pumping the brakes. Ask yourself the following questions:
Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?
Is my need to be right more important than my happiness? Try to remove your emotion from the conflict and look at the issue at hand. Will “winning” solve the conflict- or will it just leave your partner feeling unheard or ignored?
Which will bring me closer to my partner?
Will my insistence in furthering my agenda encourage my partner to be more vulnerable or will it shut them down? Will “winning” facilitate open and honest communication and foster trust or will it alienate my partner?
Which is more important?
Is being right worth it? What might I lose and is it worth the risk? Will winning the argument matter a year from now? How about five years?