What do you think your biggest mental shortcoming is? What patterns of thoughts and beliefs do you hold that sometimes help you, but most of the time harm you? If someone challenged you on it, what would be a touchy subject? Is there something you feel like Gollem in his cave, stroking the golden ring, snapping at anyone who comes close? What is your “My Precious?” I know what you’re thinking: Gawd… stop with the twenty questions. This is something I don’t want to shine a light on OK? This is my emotional skeleton in the closet, and that door should stay tightly shut, thank you very much. Besides, its part of who I am. So, there.
So, let me break the ice and tell you what mine is. For me, it is being right. I pride myself on being smart, clever and creative and… right. But when someone points out that I’m wrong, the fangs come out. I cast around, looking for ways that I’m at least partially right, trying to save face, because I was all in on my belief. So, when I listened to a talk by one of my absolute heroes, Wayne Dyer, where the message was that if “faced with the choice to be right, or be kind. You pick kind.” I was like…. But why can’t I have both?
So, here’s the thing. I have spent a lifetime justifying my belief that I am right. I think we all do this to some degree, and I don’t think that I’m the only one who feels like it is a personal affront when they are wrong. I have invested in the belief that if I’m wrong, something is wrong with me. That if someone else is right, I have to prove that I’m more right than they are in order to be a smart, clever, creative person. In short, my self-worth is tied to being right.
I think at some point, buried deep in my subconscious, I had an experience where it was important for me to develop this as part of a survival mechanism. Maybe it was a time when I lost face because I was wrong, maybe it was about not being in a position with enough power to influence someone to do something my way, maybe it was something else from my formative years. Whatever it was, it became part of my personality, part of my identity.
But can you see what a dangerous position it puts me in? If I feel less than if I’m wrong, can you imagine what this does to my relationships? If I can’t let it go without a buzz of energy that searches for a place, if only in my mind where I’m right, imagine what I’m creating in my life. Let me tell you, I’m not someone you want to get lost with, especially if I’m the one who got us lost in the first place.
Think of all the time and energy I could save if only I could just admit that I’m wrong, and get on with fixing things. I think one of the biggest problems is that I feel out of control when I’m wrong. Or even when I know that I’m right, but in a situation where I have to let someone else be right, because it is the kind thing to do. Being out of control like this is energetically like being a rock in a stream. The water flowing all around, pushing against the rock, causing friction, stirring up mud, but no movement. The energy bounces off and keeps on flowing, faster than you can grasp at. Now, imagine trying to create great things from this place. If you rise above and float on top of the water (in my analogy, this means choosing to let it go and be kind) look at all the resources that you have available. You can catch things as they float by, you are above the muck of the bottom of the stream, and you are moving with the current, making progress. But you know the stupid thing about this? When I’m feeling like the rock, I want to stay stuck. Because it means I’m right.
Thankfully, I have been aware of my tendency for the need to be right for quite some time. I work on my thoughts around being wrong, and identify when I’m reacting out of habit, If I feel that certain sensation, notice the self talk that justifies my position, when I start to gather steam on a topic like this, it is a big red flag that I need to Check. Myself. And this is hard for me, because I have to admit that my reaction is wrong. That it is taking me to places I don’t want to go. That I have control over this part of my existence, and I not only can, but NEED to take control over it. It helps me create from a better place, not one of being stuck and desperate, but one of fluidity, creativity and resourcefulness.
This is one of my many flaws, but probably the king pin for me. If I get this one thing under control, my life flows. I am able to create awesome things, not just grasp at them desperately, longingly, unsuccessfully. So here’s the big question: What are the rocks in the stream for you? Are you doubling down on your investment in them, or can you let it go, and get on with the good stuff life has in store for you?