“Do you always want to be right?”
This was the question posed to me by my therapist a few months ago. Daunting, no? And frankly, a bit too blunt for my taste. Couldn’t he have been a bit more subtle and casually work it into the conversation? Or couldn’t he have asked me about my obsessive tendencies as a child, which of course, there were many of those – enough to probably take up a double or triple therapy session?
No. And apparently, he wanted an answer, like, yesterday because he just sat there. And I just sat there, thinking, in that quiet room. You’d swear you could hear a pin drop.
The thing that got me, though, is he seemed to think it was bad – heck, almost illegal – to want to be right all the time. I tried to play devil’s advocate with him. I’m sly like that.
“Isn’t it human nature, though, to have this instinctual need to be right? Who wants to be wrong?”
But the more I thought about it, the more it rang true. All my life, I’ve thought I’ve known what’s right. I had a clear sense of right and wrong and held on tightly to my principles. My moral compass was ever pointed straight ahead. I knew what I should do, knew what other people should do and never shied away from letting my opinions be heard. Why is it that life always seems to have other plans, though?
Last week marked six and a half years since my father’s suicide. And the more I think about it, the more I realize my Right Army seemed to charge even faster ahead after his death. I knew what was right (I’d known it all along): He was selfish. He should have thought of us. He didn’t have to die like that. And, most assuredly, we’re going to have to live with this pain he left us for the rest of our lives.
Or so I thought I knew it all. I was right. Right as rain.
That’s when my mother, like any good mother, kept posing the same question as my therapist, but with her own mother-like infusion: “Is being right more important to you than missing your father?”
I’ve realized in the last few months that my “need-to-be-right-at-all-costs” mentality is ultimately clouding the larger picture. It’s a scary place to be. All I want to be is positive and upbeat, but the second I even try, the cynical voice inside my head tells me it’s all just a facade, and it’s time to be realistic.
It’s not always right wanting to be right all the time. There has to come a point where you just throw your hands up in the air and say, “To heck with it. That’s life. It is what it is.” I think it may take me a little longer to get to that point, though. I’m on my way. That’s a start, right?
Maybe you’re a right-fighter too. I say it’s time that we put down our swords, took off our masks of armor and stop the crazy madness of trying to be right and make everything right. Aren’t you just a little bit exhausted? I know I am.