Do You Need To Be Right (all the time?)

Human nature being the funny old beast that it is, many of us can relate to the ‘need to be right at all times’ line of thinking. My way or the highway… that peculiarly single-minded, defensive approach when connecting with others.

Closing our mind’s to others’ opinions can actually drive them away. It can also stymie our personal growth and limit knowledge and self-awareness, as illustrated by philosopher Edward de Bono:

‘The need to be right all the time is the biggest bar to new ideas. It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong than to be always right by having no ideas at all.’

The need to be right approach doesn’t serve us, as it can alienate others and makes us come across as sanctimonious bores. So why the frantic need to prove we’re on top?

We may feel the need to be right to make up for lack of recognition, acceptance and love as children. So if we are right we can claim back the self-worth we lost at a young age. Many of us are wounded kids running around in adult bodies, so being ‘right’ helps to temporarily ease the pain. It’s an attempt to get the recognition and approval we so desperately seek.

If any of you grew up with overly critical parents you’ll know what I mean. Poking, teasing, blatant sarcasm – they are all passive aggressive ways of attacking someone – just to make you feel better about yourself. It becomes a habit. When someone challenges our thinking, it can feel as if they are challenging us, our very core, not just our ideas. We essentially feel worthless.

The benefits of seeing the world from another perspective, and giving up the need to be right are tremendous. We open ourselves to new, fresh ideas. We allow another human being to be themselves, to acknowledge them for who they are and love them for it. Wanting to be right all the time means we are handing over our power to others – we seek their approval in order to feel good about ourselves. But relinquishing this behaviour can actually increase our self-esteem, not weaken it.

We can strengthen our relationship with loved ones, friends and colleagues, simply by listening and actually welcoming our differences of opinion. No two people on earth share the same world view! There is no ‘right’ way of seeing things.

Once we open ourselves up, relinquish our need for approval and accept others for who they are, we will then be able to do this for ourselves. We can nourish our inner child who then feels safe, loved, approved of, celebrated and recognised.