How come our desire to be ‘right’ seems to directly contradict our desire, and ability to love? When asked, we would probably all say that love in our relationships supersedes our need to be right in most areas of life. What does it matter if spinach IS really healthier than corn, or that the toothpaste tube SHOULD be rolled in order to squeeze out the whole product. Some things in life just don’t matter.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about this, and have realized that maybe our desire to be ‘right’, when it applies to how we think or act, or even to what we say, is really a personal desire on our part to be understood, and any words or actions that come from a place of ‘wanting to be right’, really are a plea for the other person or persons to empathize and see their point of view.
What happens when one person is willing to try and see the other person’s point of view, but the individual on the other side of the issue isn’t willing to do the same? This has been a very real and personal issue within my family for years. My belief system has dramatically shifted since I have been an adult, leaving room for a lot of judgment from family members. This has caused a lot of pain for all parties involved, something that I am trying to work past. But, what can you do when others don’t feel like they should try to understand you, or at the very least, let you live life on your terms? What do you do when someone you love insists they are ‘right’?
Here are a few things that have helped me on my road towards the field ‘beyond right and wrong’, that Rumi described-
-Put myself in their place. This can be very difficult to do when you are caught up in the moment and feeling the hurt associated with unkind words or actions inflicted by someone else, but if done, it can be tremendously helpful in understanding why they are acting the way they are. I have come to realize that people usually act unkind out of fear. Fear that if they are wrong, they will no longer be respected; fear that if they are wrong, they will have to change their worldview, which is scary in itself. As I have tried to step outside of the situation and put myself in the other person’s place, it is much easier for me to get past the hurt feelings and understand how I can help make the other person feel more at ease with our conflicting ideas and feelings.
-Recognize the feeling, acknowledge it, and let it go. This is one of the most difficult things for me to do as an individual, but worth the effort every time. As human beings, we have emotions and feelings that arise naturally in response to all situations. Happiness, sadness, jealousy, loneliness, loyalty, anger and many other emotions are a natural part of our existence. The key I have found is to stop for a moment and recognize the feeling that I am having and why, (so and so made this comment or acted in this way), then to acknowledge that I am feeling a certain response to it (anger, hurt, sadness), then let it pass. The ‘letting it pass’ part is by far the most difficult part of the sequence, but the most beneficial. I try to remember the Buddha teaching to appreciate each moment of life, each thought, each feeling, but realize that they are all impermanent and passing like the clouds. Appreciate each one, even the negative ones, and watch them pass.
-Remove myself from the situation. If a situation is causing negativity to come into my life on a regular basis, I have to make the decision as to whether removing myself from that influence is the health thing to do. That can be hard, especially if it means removing myself from contact with an individual whom I love. Sometimes it is necessary to take a sabbatical in order to see the situation more clearly and resolve my feelings towards the person, especially if they are not able to see the hurt they are causing, or unwilling to acknowledge their part in the situation. After giving myself space, I can come back to the individual with a new perspective and understanding of why they did or said what they did.
Ultimately, my goal is to understand a person’s view while I am in the situation with them, allowing me to let my own personal feelings of hurt go so I can help alleviate whatever fears are fueling their unkind words or actions. I am by no means close to accomplishing this goal, but I am working towards making it a part of my life. Someday I hope to be able to meet everyone in the ‘field’, where right and wrong doesn’t matter, and only love exists.
Today I am focusing on 10 Minute Tasks-
-10 minutes of mindfulness
-10 minutes of exercise
-10 minutes of reading
-10 minutes of meditation
What is your ‘zen’ today?
Photo Attribution: FreeDigitalPhotos/Moggara12