Do you want to be happy or do you want to be right?
In our attempt to be right we often jeopardize or sacrifice our happiness in our relationship. When one is right this means that the other is wrong. It creates a win-lose situation, and in the end both lose.
How can we move on from this trap that is so common in relationships?
Again we need to cultivate compassion, courage, honesty and humbleness to be able to recognize and acknowledge self-righteousness. Self-righteousness presents itself with voices like, “You always …”, “You never …”, “If you hadn’t … I wouldn’t …”, “I told you so.”
When we are self-righteous we are convinced that we are right and we can back up our conviction with an array of explanations to justify our position. We can get so deeply entangled in this pattern that we lose the overview of the situation and sight of the other person. We may feel self-pity, view others as the enemy and may become closed to negotiating a peaceful solution.
We may also feel lonely and disconnected. Often anger and pride disguise underlying fear, shame or guilt. As we feel disconnected from others, we are also disconnected from ourselves, from our true feelings. We isolate ourselves from uncomfortable feelings like fear, sadness, guilt and shame.
We need desperately to win, when we experience ourselves as powerless.
The dissatisfaction and discomfort that we experience if we don’t distract or sedate ourselves with alcohol, work or sex, for example, can help us to overcome our self-righteousness. It can give us the energy to do something different. When we become aware that self-righteousness does not bring us happiness, it becomes less desirable.
In intimate relationships happiness is not possible when we compete for supremacy, when we fight for being right, when we make the other wrong. Happiness is only possible when we both work towards a win-win situation: practice to step into each others’ shoes, listen to the others’ story, accept difference and negotiate new possibilities.
As the Dalai Lama points out, “Happiness depends on the state of mind.” To achieve any temporary goals does not give us happiness, to gain and win, doesn’t help. It is our attitude that makes the difference.
We have a right to be happy. However, we can’t be happy, when we need to be right.
Mirjam Busch & Rudolf Jarosewitsch
Copyright © 6/1999 by Rumijabu | Originally published in Southshore Beacon #108, Jun1999