The Reasons Why We Need to be Right All of the Time

I notice in my life that I want things to be a certain way in order for me to feel a certain way. I’ve attached all sorts of ideas and stories to the notion of what “being right” and “doing the right thing” means to me:

  1. I want to be right because it makes me feel as though I’m on the right track in my life (thank goodness!). 

  2. I want to be right because it makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile (something to tell people about in exchange for validation, see point 10). 

  3. I want to be right because it means I’m better (better than the wrong people, anyway). 

  4. I want to be right because it helps my self esteem. 

  5. I want to be right because others are more likely to be jealous of me (if people are jealous of me, then surely I must be happy?). 

  6. I want to be right because I want to be the person that everybody loves (being right increases this likelihood by 14.2%). 

  7. I want to be right because I want security (how does that even work..?). 

  8. I want to be right because someone has to be right, and that’s the person one should aspire to be (so I’m told).

  9. I want to be right because it’s something that I can feel good about (because life sucks otherwise). 

  10. I want to be right for the validation it gives (yes, I am right person who does right things because its right be right).

  11. I want to be right because I can’t stand being wrong (avoid embarrassment at all costs). 

  12. I want to do the right thing because it means I’ll go in the right direction (nobody likes to get lost).

  13. I want to do the right thing because it’s what’s expected of me (look at me, world! I’m doing the thing that I’m told will bring joy!)

  14. I want to do the right thing because it let’s me feel safe (scary = no fun).

Truthfully, I don’t believe that being right or doing the right thing makes any of the above a reality. They’re all just fun little stories I’ve told myself along my journey.

As I reflect on the reasons that I want to be right, or do the right thing, I know how unessential the former is in order to realize all of the above.  Could it be that we’re always on the right track, and that “wrong” is merely an idea that we’ve bought into or made up along the way? It’s hard to turn toward the darkness and discomfort in our lives, and so we tend to dismiss the “wrong” stuff instead. We argue that we’re preoccupied with more important tasks and that we don’t need to deal with certain things. In a world so eager for instant gratification, it can be hard to invest time into something that causes us pain in the moment, with no tangible pay off on the horizon. The karmic principle entails that each action has a reaction. No effort is wasted. We can keep this in mind next time we do something that is seemingly unimportant.

”Things are better elsewhere”, we tell ourselves. When we draw comparisons between our lives and others, we always find ways to explain away our sorrows rather than confronting them. “When I achieve this or that, I’ll finally be happy” or “If I was born in a different country/decade all of my troubles would never have happened”. Alas, once you’ve arrived where you expected freedom, there’s another issue waiting to be dealt with instead. We constantly blame our circumstance for how we are feeling. Consider that where you are is perfect. Who said you should be doing something else, that you should be somewhere else? You? Well unsay it! And if someone else said it, have compassion for where they’re coming from, knowing that there is no need to let someone else’ discomfort around your situation rub off on you. The one constant throughout your life is you, after all. It makes sense that by changing yourself and your ways of thinking, it will inevitably change your life.

We spend so much time obsessing over things being in order. If there Is no wrong way, then there would not be a right way either, would there? If there was no basis to compare against, then everything would just be. Believing that there is a certain way something should be is rather limiting. The limitations that we give life are the root of all our internal and external conflicts. For example, at a particular age you might feel pressured to be at a particular point in your career/financial/romantic life, and if you don’t match the common criteria, you feel miserable. This pressure purely stems from comparison and a limiting idea of what society deems your life ought to look like. Walk your own path, not a path that someone else has made for you without having any regard and understanding toward your needs.

Fixating on right and wrong often does more harm than good, effectively leaving us feeling paralyzed as we are afraid to do anything at all! Hold pure intentions, and act in accordance with them. There is no wrong or right, there simply is. Just be. Do things. Strive. Exert effort in this world and don’t get so caught up in the impending outcome - it doesn’t even exist after all. 

David Boland