Yesterday I came home to an agitated husband. According to him, he had been looking for this little finishing crayon (meant to fill in nail holes on wood) for almost 2 hours and it seemed it was no where in site. It was never said, but the underlying implication was that I must have done something with it because, after all, he had looked everywhere. In less that 2 minutes I had the little crayon in my hand while I was giving him my best, “I’m sure you didn’t look that hard” look.
This whole little episode could have been avoided had he not had such a strong conviction that he was right. Let me explain.
My hubby, who I love dearly, had a vision in his mind of what he was looking for. To him the little crayon was tied with an elastic to a little blue applicator. So that was what he was looking for. But that is not how I found it. Instead, the crayon and applicator was in a little Ziploc sandwich baggie. Not a huge difference, but because he was so sure in his mind of what he was looking for, he pass by the little baggie even though he looked in the basket that housed it several times.
In this little incident I got a deeper meaning to this little gem of wisdom.
Because we humans have such a strong desire to be right, we see only what will support our belief.
This has been a theme that I have seen played out over and over again recently.
I live in Canada. Last week my city was honored to host our Prime Minister, our countries leader, in a town hall type meeting. At this meeting a woman was so belligerent, yelling and screaming and disrupting the meeting the Prime Minister actually stopped and asked her if she would respect the people in the room and be quite. She refused and was dragged from the hall. Her need to be right over rode her ability to be heard and as such, she will now be remembered as the woman who embarrassed our city with her tirade instead of the woman who was passionate about her cause – whatever it was.
She was so focused on her need to be right and to sway the Prime Minister to her belief that she could not control her emotions and decorum.
The need to be right does not always result in heightened emotions. Sometimes the need to be right actually works to hinder progress. Fear of failing can actually be a need to be right because if you fail, then you must have gotten something wrong and that forces you to have to look at your beliefs and perhaps admit that they need to be adjusted.
This is not to be confused with perseverance. To persevere is to overcome obstacles, difficulties and discouragement. It is to make mistakes and then find another solutions in order to carry on. To be stuck in a need to be right cycle is to continue using the same tactics over and over again with no difference in the results.
Vindication and revenge are other forms of the need to be right. Just look at the chaotic energy this world is swirling in. We have leaders hobbling peace and progress because they are unable to concede to other leader’s and even other countries, views. We have large groups coming forward and seeking vindication (their own need to be right) for past offenses by other people who, in their need to be right, abused their position of power. And we have terrorist groups who are so rigid in their spiritual beliefs being the only true belief, that they are willing to indiscriminately kill innocent people to prove the point that they are right.
But are they right?
I will go back to the example of my husband and his missing finishing crayon. If he had taken a moment at the start of his search to open his mind to other possibilities, to not be so rigid in his belief of what he was looking for, he most assuredly would have found the crayon in a timely fashion. It was exactly where it was suppose to be but his ego needed to be right and so he was destined to suffer the aggravation of a fruitless search.
So herein lies the little gem of wisdom. For if we all took an extra minute before we embarked on another futile search, or before we spout out another hardline opinion, to see that there are other possibilities, other than our own rigid perspectives, we would then begin to believe that we would alleviate a lot of suffering in this world. I know my husband is now a believer.