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Addicted to Being Right  

This is it. If you have one flaw, chances are you have Addicted to
Being Right. This defect is really high maintenance. It is the most
common character flaw of all. You see it everywhere, from Archie Bunker
to Angelica, from Bill Clinton to Ross Perot. It is almost impossible
to find someone who is not addicted to being right. You know who these
people are. They have to get you to agree and their way is the right
way. You may have a good idea, but if it doesn't agree with theirs,
they will criticize you. If you stand up for your own opinion, they get
upset. They don't feel happy until and unless you can see it their way.

Being right is different than being addicted to it. It is your
responsibility to know the truth and stand by it. You must defend
righteous behavior, especially now that we live in a society in moral
crisis. Being right about something doesn't give you the right to drive
other people crazy though. It also doesn't justify your trying to
control or change things that you have no control over.
Remember the scene where Archie Bunker watches his
"commie-pinko-leftist-liberal" son-in-law put on his shoes and socks.
His son-in-law puts on the left sock, the left shoe and then starts on
the right sock. Archie gets livid. "You not supposed to do it that
way. Any idiot knows it's the right sock, then left sock, and then you
start on the shoes." Archie can't convince him to change the way he
does it. He stays upset about it for quite a while. He is addicted to
being right.
Right vs. Happy
"Would you rather be right or happy," asked a therapist to one of my
patients. I thought about that for a while. Some people are so caught
up in the need to be right that they will sacrifice their own sense of
well being. They argue incessantly about their point of view. You know
the type, they have to convince you of their opinion, not offer it to
you. Being upset about the things we can not control, especially the
thoughts of other people is goofy. Allowing your emotions to go out of
control because someone else doesn't agree with you is not too sane
either.
Most of us can't control when our emotions are going to erupt, but we
can tone them down when they flair up. We can't control that automatic
response to believe that the way we think it is, is the "truth." Our
beliefs are fairly well engraved into our psyche. Some come with birth,
and others come from the way we are raised, but regardless of where they
come from, we pretty much believe them. We change them with experience
and insight. Yes, humans can become wiser as they grow older. They
also can become more entrenched with each passing year. A person can
become more addicted to being right as they go unhappily through life.
Being right is not a solution to life's problems, though many of us
treat it as though it were. Being right for many of us feels like it is
safe: "At least I knew I was right." Sometimes being right feels like
being stable: "Now that you got that straight, we can get on with the
other business." I have heard numerous patients tell me that they were
severely punished by their childhood figures of authority. The only way
to avoid it was to prove you were justified, to prove you were right.
For them Addicted to being right was crucial for them to have a feeling
of well being. It was a solution to an unsafe situation. Now it is
safety and security. More often than not though, being right is just
about false pride and the need to feel important or better than someone
else. It is driven by inadequacy and shame.
In that case it is a poor solution - and it is always temporary -
because the inadequacy lingers below the surface awaiting someone else
to set it off. Addicted to being right is the problem not the
solution. If I am addicted to being right all I have to do is find
someone else to contradict me. I wait. I seek. I react. I pounce.
Addicted to being right then becomes an attack. It doesn't feel that
way to the person who has the flaw, but just ask your friends. The boss
who is addicted to being right is the one who get the rolled eyes by his
subordinates and has work relationships that are at a more than casual
distance, because no one can really approach him with an original idea.
You can approach with one of his original ideas but not with your own.
When wrong admit it!
Did that shock you? Then let me tone it down a little. If you have the
character flaw, Addicted to Being Right, shock your friends and family.
Every now and then admit that you are wrong. No one is right all the
time, especially you. So admit it when you can.
If that is too difficult, then just be willing too. Don't actually
admit it at first, just work on being willing to admit you don't know it
all. It will come as a shock to you, but actually admitting it is
easier than the willingness to admit it. When it does come, - when you
actually say, "I think I am mistaken and you're right about this," you
will shock your friends.
They'll recover. Trust me they wiill.
Here is a brief summary of how you deprogram the Addicted to Being Right
flaw. I will cover it more fully in the next article.
Notice that you are upset that someone else doesn't agree that you are
right.
Pause and allow yourself to see how crazy it is to be upset about who's
right.
Don't be angry that you are in reaction, but chalk it up to an
opportunity to gain insight about yourself.
Forgive the other person for not having your "wonderful" insight. Hey,
they have the freedom to believe what they want.
If by any remote possibility you believe that you are in reaction and
wrong about it, please admit it.

The bottom line here is that people who are addicted to being right
usually sound pretty stupid. That doesn't sound too kind, but you know
it's true. Someone who would rather be right than happy usually will
argue to the point of absurdity.
A very astute editor once graciously pointed out that right and happy
are not two ends of the same spectrum. I know that. It's about being
in reaction to the right of other people to have their own thoughts vs.
being happy with that freedom. It is about having the serenity to
control what you can and accepting that someone else controls what they
believe.
Go ahead and shock someone over the next few days. When wrong, promptly
admit it. It's fun. It takes integrity and it is a character building
experience.


 

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