Who is right and who is wrong?

Posted on September 2, 2020
Image of a couple holding hands

This simple dynamic often lies at the core of our relationships. Almost every fight or power-struggle we are engaged in is a direct result of our desire to be right, so it is just a matter of how right we are determined to be. If that desire to be right is unswerving, it has been said we are willing to be dead right which leads to the natural progression of being dead.

Even when we are fully aware of this progression it seldom shakes our belief in us being right – even, to repeat, dead right! The more right we are, the more our righteous anger grows along with the wish to fight the truth that we could be wrong. However, could we also learn that not being right does not make us wrong? We might be right about elements of the situation but not about the whole situation. We only have part of the picture and those around us hold the other parts.

Recently we took a break and drove our electric car up to Scotland to visit friends and the magnificent highlands. On one of the days we were travelling from Ullapool to Skye. We decided not to go directly, rather to visit a coastal bay on the way south for a coffee and sightseeing. I looked on the map and selected a town that looked great and was also within the range of our electric car. We discussed it and agreed on a stop and later on Susie went into the navigation system and input the coastal town. Typically we work like this because I love the navigation thing and Susie can spell.

We set off following the directions and enjoying the views and after a little while arrived at the destination; we enjoyed a coffee and a look around and jumped back into the car ready to complete the second part of the journey. However the navigation now informed us that we did not have sufficient charge to reach our destination easily. Not only that but the only other charge point we could use was unserviceable. This was my kind of nightmare, with images of being stuck in the middle of the Scottish highlands looking for a socket and a very, very long extension lead. When I looked on the sat nav it was obvious that we had not gone to the ‘right’ destination and things escalated into a fight. The mood swing turned the atmosphere tense and unpleasant.

We hammered it out for most of the way to Skye, which we just reached. Then, when we were finally relaxing with a short walk, we looked at a street tourist map and sure enough there were two bays but also with great surprise we recognised that both bays had a town with the same name! Now maybe the name was Gaelic for bay or some more reasonable understanding but there, right on the billboard was the map with the same name at both bays. I realised I had not been right, not that I was wrong but certainly Susie was not wrong either.

We looked at each other and burst out laughing at how the universe had given us this perfect and compact example of such an important lesson for our relationship. From now on the name Shieldaig will be our trigger for whenever we feel the wish to be right rising within us; our reminder of how that emotion blocks any chance to harmoniously resolve any situation.

This is a lesson that we need to learn over and over again until hopefully we really get it; and it is very important that we get it. Being right leads firstly to unhappiness because you can’t be right and happy; you can’t be right and have a successful relationship. It also makes us very poor learners so the lessons have to become more and more severe. And being right leads us into fights in widening circles, creating scarcity and misery in its wake.

Of course we don’t consciously want any fights. Which brings us to the underlying dynamic that a fight is a form of delaying the next change in the relationship, or in our life. Today, think carefully about anyone you are fighting with, or have fought with in the past. What step forward were you afraid of taking? That new level is still there for you, if you are willing to take it for yourself and for all those that you love.

With our love,
Jeff and Sue

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