by Marie T Russell
I choose to let go of the need to be right and simply choose happiness
The other day, I found myself remembering a situation which took place 20 years ago… I got fired from a job for having disagreed with my boss over a question of the work schedule for the Labor Day long-weekend. He had given everyone the weekend off, leaving no one to work except himself. I had suggested that I would work the weekend as well, and take time off during the week instead. For some reason, he did not agree with that scenario, and wanted to stick with “his” schedule — he’d be the only one working, and the whole staff would have the weekend off.
As I reflected on this event, I found myself thinking that I had been right, and he’d been wrong. And then I realized… Wait a minute… I might have been right from my perspective, but he was “right” according to his (he wanted everyone to have the long-weekend off). He had his own motivations for his schedule, and I had mine. (I’ve always preferred taking time off when the roads and beaches, etc. are not so busy as on long weekends.)
In such arbitrary situations, who is “right”? Am I right because it fits into my thinking, my plans, my judgments, etc? Is the “other” wrong, because whatever they want does not fit into my thinking, my plans, my judgments, etc?
Upon reflection, I realized that we were both right and we were both wrong. Both of us, being good mirrors for each other, were headstrong and stubborn and wanted things our own way (which of course according to us was the “right” way). We were both unwilling to see things from the other’s perspective, choosing instead to “stick to our guns”. We were both insistent on being right. So we were both wrong… wrong in choosing “righteousness” over love. We were both “right” in standing up for ourselves, but not at the expense of love and compassion.
The only “right way” is the way of love. Now, for those of you who are going, “but what about…” Let me interject this. Love does not mean being a doormat, love does not mean letting someone walk all over you, love does not mean being “less important than”, love does not mean being a wimp… But love does mean not letting egos take over, love does mean seeing a bigger picture than the “you against me”, or the “I’m right and you’re wrong”.
Love sees the other person’s perspective without necessarily agreeing with it. Love would have seen that my boss had his reasons for choosing to run his store the way he did, and that even if I thought I could have done it better, it was his store and he had the “right” to make decisions there. I had chosen to work for him, so I had to respect his “right” to make decisions.
Love might not have called him the few choice colorful words that I hurled at him as I expressed my frustration at not having things “my way”. Love would have seen that while his way of running his business was not the way I would have run it, it was his store, thus his choice. I then would have accepted his decision without necessarily agreeing with it.
Instead, we both “stuck to our guns” and I ended up walking out in the middle of the “conversation”, and he ended up telling me I was fired. Yes, we both felt we were “right”, but I think we both lost that day. He lost a good employee, and I lost a job. But more than that, we lost our way… We both ended up choosing the way of ego, of “righteousness”, of “I’m better than you”, of “I’m right and you’re stupid”. We lost our way, because we chose anger and pride over love.
We had been friends before I started working there. And through all the disagreements (there were others) and all the frustrations, we ended up “on opposing sides”. We forgot that we were both on the same team… the team of wanting to create a better life for ourselves and the people around us… the team that has a common goal, and that while not always agreeing on how to get there, still keeps the higher vision of the goal in mind. So while we both may have “won” the argument, we both lost the game of life that day.
How often do we let “being right” step into the way of “peace and love”? We see it in international politics and local government, but we also see it in our own “internal politics” with co-workers, relatives, and the people we live with. We’ve often lost track of our ultimate goal: Love, Harmony, Inner Peace, and Well-Being. We instead get side-tracked by our ego that wants to be right at any price. It doesn’t care about lost friendships, or uncomfortable work relations, or families torn apart by pride — it only cares about being right.
The other day, I was thinking about the recent behavior of a friend of mine, and found that I was angry at her actions (actually I was angry at something she didn’t do… something I would have liked her to do). Then again, I realized, that I was only upset because she hadn’t acted in the way I would have preferred. But… she had been herself. Yes, I would have done it differently… but that’s me, not her.
How often, do we get angry for people for being themselves? What a ridiculous concept! How can we be angry at someone for being themselves? That’s who they are, at this moment in time, on their path of growth, that’s who they are… And just because we may think that if they acted another way it would be better, that doesn’t not necessarily make us right. They have their reasons for their actions (yes, maybe they’re “stupid” reasons from our perspective, but it’s their reasons nevertheless). You have reasons for your actions, and they have reasons for theirs. But who is right?
No one is right! and no one is wrong! Everyone is simply doing the best they can at that moment! Now I know we’re all heard that, and sometimes we accept it, and sometimes it just goes against the grain. Yes, the alcoholic who mistreats his family is doing the best he can — at that moment in time. Yes, the mother who abandons her child is doing the best she can — at that moment… These people may not be choosing the highest path — the path of love — but it’s not by our condemning them, by our calling them names, by our judging them, that we make it any better.
The only way to healing is through love… Love and respect for ourselves, and love and respect for the people around us — whether we think they’re right or wrong. In the same way that we need to give our children room to make their own “mistakes” so they can learn, we need to give the people in our lives room to make their own “mis-takes” as well.
In this movie of life, there are many “mis-takes”. Just as in Hollywood, it may take many “takes” to get a scene “just right”, so in life it takes many “mis-takes” to get our life in balance… and everyone is rewriting their script as they go, making decisions that later turn out great, and others that necessitate a change down the road…
Let’s give ourselves and the people around us the room to make mis-takes. After all, no “perfect” invention or “perfect” scene was created on the first try. It took many wrongs to finally get it right. Each of those “wrongs” actually contributed to the end result. Without the mistakes, the “perfect” solution may never have been found.
So, maybe by giving the people around us the space to make their mis-takes — without the burden of our judgments and anger — maybe, just maybe, we’ll get to discover the perfection of it all.