This is it. If you have one flaw, chances are you
have Addicted to
Being Right. This defect is really high
maintenance. It is the most
common character flaw of all. You see it
everywhere, from Archie Bunker
to Angelica, from Bill Clinton to Ross Perot. It
is almost impossible
to find someone who is not addicted to being
right. You know who these
people are. They have to get you to agree and
their way is the right
way. You may have a good idea, but if it doesn't
agree with theirs,
they will criticize you. If you stand up for your
own opinion, they get
upset. They don't feel happy until and unless you
can see it their way.
Being right is different than being addicted to
it. It is your
responsibility to know the truth and stand by it.
You must defend
righteous behavior, especially now that we live
in a society in moral
crisis. Being right about something doesn't give
you the right to drive
other people crazy though. It also doesn't
justify your trying to
control or change things that you have no control
Remember the scene where Archie Bunker watches
son-in-law put on his shoes and socks.
His son-in-law puts on the left sock, the left
shoe and then starts on
the right sock. Archie gets livid. "You not
supposed to do it that
way. Any idiot knows it's the right sock, then
left sock, and then you
start on the shoes." Archie can't convince
him to change the way he
does it. He stays upset about it for quite a
while. He is addicted to
Right vs. Happy
"Would you rather be right or happy,"
asked a therapist to one of my
patients. I thought about that for a while. Some
people are so caught
up in the need to be right that they will
sacrifice their own sense of
well being. They argue incessantly about their
point of view. You know
the type, they have to convince you of their
opinion, not offer it to
you. Being upset about the things we can not
control, especially the
thoughts of other people is goofy. Allowing your
emotions to go out of
control because someone else doesn't agree with
you is not too sane
Most of us can't control when our emotions are
going to erupt, but we
can tone them down when they flair up. We can't
control that automatic
response to believe that the way we think it is,
is the "truth." Our
beliefs are fairly well engraved into our psyche.
Some come with birth,
and others come from the way we are raised, but
regardless of where they
come from, we pretty much believe them. We change
them with experience
and insight. Yes, humans can become wiser as they
grow older. They
also can become more entrenched with each passing
year. A person can
become more addicted to being right as they go
unhappily through life.
Being right is not a solution to life's problems,
though many of us
treat it as though it were. Being right for many
of us feels like it is
safe: "At least I knew I was right."
Sometimes being right feels like
being stable: "Now that you got that
straight, we can get on with the
other business." I have heard numerous
patients tell me that they were
severely punished by their childhood figures of
authority. The only way
to avoid it was to prove you were justified, to
prove you were right.
For them Addicted to being right was crucial for
them to have a feeling
of well being. It was a solution to an unsafe
situation. Now it is
safety and security. More often than not though,
being right is just
about false pride and the need to feel important
or better than someone
else. It is driven by inadequacy and shame.
In that case it is a poor solution - and it is
always temporary -
because the inadequacy lingers below the surface
awaiting someone else
to set it off. Addicted to being right is the
problem not the
solution. If I am addicted to being right all I
have to do is find
someone else to contradict me. I wait. I seek. I
react. I pounce.
Addicted to being right then becomes an attack.
It doesn't feel that
way to the person who has the flaw, but just ask
your friends. The boss
who is addicted to being right is the one who get
the rolled eyes by his
subordinates and has work relationships that are
at a more than casual
distance, because no one can really approach him
with an original idea.
You can approach with one of his original ideas
but not with your own.
When wrong admit it!
Did that shock you? Then let me tone it down a
little. If you have the
character flaw, Addicted to Being Right, shock
your friends and family.
Every now and then admit that you are wrong. No
one is right all the
time, especially you. So admit it when you can.
If that is too difficult, then just be willing
too. Don't actually
admit it at first, just work on being willing to
admit you don't know it
all. It will come as a shock to you, but actually
admitting it is
easier than the willingness to admit it. When it
does come, - when you
actually say, "I think I am mistaken and
you're right about this," you
will shock your friends.
They'll recover. Trust me they wiill.
Here is a brief summary of how you deprogram the
Addicted to Being Right
flaw. I will cover it more fully in the next
Notice that you are upset that someone else
doesn't agree that you are
Pause and allow yourself to see how crazy it is
to be upset about who's
Don't be angry that you are in reaction, but
chalk it up to an
opportunity to gain insight about yourself.
Forgive the other person for not having your
"wonderful" insight. Hey,
they have the freedom to believe what they want.
If by any remote possibility you believe that you
are in reaction and
wrong about it, please admit it.
The bottom line here is that people who are
addicted to being right
usually sound pretty stupid. That doesn't sound
too kind, but you know
it's true. Someone who would rather be right than
happy usually will
argue to the point of absurdity.
A very astute editor once graciously pointed out
that right and happy
are not two ends of the same spectrum. I know
that. It's about being
in reaction to the right of other people to have
their own thoughts vs.
being happy with that freedom. It is about having
the serenity to
control what you can and accepting that someone
else controls what they
Go ahead and shock someone over the next few
days. When wrong, promptly
admit it. It's fun. It takes integrity and it is
a character building