When a relationship is at its height, it’s as if the two separate partners merge into each other and become one. This works wonderfully while there is concord and rapport. But when there is discord, then we tend to retreat back into our separate selves, communication at a standstill. Shaming or blaming each other causes further separation and conflict. We cling to difficulties, making them more than they are; we replay the irritation in our mind, as the self-centered ego does not want to let go! Hidden resentments, repressed feelings, and the “I am right but he/she is wrong” syndrome flourishes.
We believe we are right, and are, therefore, the wronged one. But are there benefits to being wrong? Can we turn such a situation around so that we can learn more about ourselves? Imagine how boring it would if we were all always right!
1. I need love
When difficulties or misunderstandings arise, we easily make our partner into the ‘enemy.’ Yet, when we are in a heated quarrel, what we are very often really saying is, “Love me, I need love.” It’s easier to make the other person wrong than to admit we have such a need, but when we can recognize that we are blaming them rather than owning our own feelings, then our so-called enemy can become our friend again.
2. I’m not perfect
We may be able to secretly acknowledge that we have faults and failings, but to openly accept that we don’t always get it right is much harder. The self-serving ego has a very clever way of proving itself perfect, often denying that someone else could possibly be right (note: read with indignation in your voice). Yet admitting we are wrong develops greater self-acceptance and creates all this space in which we can learn and grow.
3. Weaknesses become strengths
Whatever our weaknesses – for being argumentative, desire to hurt someone, inability to express our feelings, even for chocolate — they can only become our strengths when we know them for what they are and can name them. They show us where we are being full of ourselves, stubborn, arrogant, and need greater humility. As a result, we become stronger, rather than being a victim of our ego selves. It may take courage to look at ourselves this way, but it is more than worth it.
For instance, many years ago Deb used to look after the mentally disturbed elderly. “After a few months I was psychologically exhausted, but I wanted to be caring, capable, and do it all. When I finally realized that I couldn’t, it was liberating! I was much kinder to myself and, therefore, able to give more.”
4. Making the right choice
Developing greater awareness of our attitudes and tendencies enables us to see that not only are we responsible for our own feelings, but also that whatever we may be experiencing is a choice we are making in that moment. It is our choice to be either defensive or reflective if we are found wrong. It is not as a result of what someone else might be saying or doing. When we step back from the heat of conflict and look at how and why we were wrong, it quickly becomes obvious that it has very little to do with the other person and much more to do with a narcissistic place inside ourselves.
5. More caring and kind
In actuality, those people we have a difficult time with are really our teachers. For without an adversary—or those who trigger strong reactions such as annoyance and anger—we would not have the stimulus to see that we need to develop greater kindness and compassion, both for ourselves and others. So we should be grateful to them for teaching us acceptance, tolerance, and equanimity; we can actually thank them for the chance to learn patience. What a gift!
6. Greater adaptability
As we accept that we do not always get it right, that we have faults and failings, the more fearless we become and the more we can open up to life. Believing we are perfect and right has a brittle and breakable quality to it; knowing our weaknesses and having greater humility has a softer, more adaptable quality. This allows us to flow with each situation, to bend and move, rather than to hold tight.
A great way to reflect on being wrong is through meditation. Insight and clarity become readily available, as we make friends with ourselves and our world.