Do We Always Have to be Right?

Do We Always Have to be Right?

We, humans, have this insatiable desire, if not addiction, to be RIGHT.

No matter what.

And because we fear, we hate being wrong.

If you are wrong about the right path as you run away from the tiger chasing you, well…it doesn’t turn out so good.

It gets messy.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in the middle of the intersection of my life and was totally paralyzed to make a decision for fear of being wrong.

What the hell!?

I mean seriously, I remained stuck, miserable with certain situations all because I didn’t want to be wrong.

And when you need to be right and believe that the path you walk is what EVERYONE else should walk, then you become another gatekeeper in the system of shoving others into the same corral you’re stuck in.

I’m not sure what’s worse, being the one stuck, or the cattle prod in which I entrench others into a life that does not resonate with them.

Reminds me of a story I heard many moons ago when a speaker made a point about being right.

I did a quick search, using google of course—which is always right, right?—about the veracity of this urban legend of a large naval ship at sea and the infamous lighthouse.

This is one version…

***

ACTUAL transcript of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1995. This radio conversation was released by the Chief of Naval Operations on 10-10-95.

Americans: “Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.”

Canadians: “Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.”

Americans: “This is the captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.”

Canadians: “No, I say again, you divert YOUR course.”

Americans: “THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, THE SECOND LARGEST SHIP IN THE UNITED STATES’ ATLANTIC FLEET. WE ARE ACCOMPANIED BY THREE DESTROYERS, THREE CRUISERS AND NUMEROUS SUPPORT VESSELS. I DEMAND THAT YOU CHANGE YOUR COURSE 15 DEGREES NORTH. THAT’S ONE-FIVE DEGREES NORTH, OR COUNTER MEASURES WILL BE UNDERTAKEN TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THIS SHIP.”

Canadians: “This is a lighthouse. Your call.”

***

This story is an old one and the roots traced back to the early 1930’s.

I’ve heard similar stories of this account with different named ships and locales over the years.

Seems as though everyone has the “right” version of this story.

Rumor is that there’s a Spanish version of this tale that the reply of the operator of the Lighthouse states he’s accompanied by his dog, food, beer, and a canary that is asleep.

I think the Spanish version sounds better…um, right version that is…but hey, that’s me.

Am I wrong for thinking that?

Much has been preached about this story in the context of being right to the point of being inflexible, being arrogant, and being demeaning toward others, in the fact that we, of course, are right.

***

Yes, there are certain rules and laws to uphold, but even some laws are flat out bad and wrong to which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his letter to fellow Clergymen eloquently addressed in his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail.

Unfortunately, the craving and addiction and habit of thinking and feeling that we ARE right is usually at the expense of putting others down, demeaning co-workers, and condemning family members.

Perfectionism is the curse of progress.

And when you set out to make certain changes in your life, progress is what you should strive for and not perfection.

And! what is right today, may prove wrong tomorrow….

Earth was flat, now it’s round.

The Sun revolved around the earth, now it’s the other way around.

Coconut oil was supposed to be good for you, now it’s not.

Chocolate was bad, now it’s good for the heart—interesting fact, my dentist loves me!

Society, family, co-workers, all scream at us what is right…yet, none dare to walk the path you will walk when you decide that the reinvention you need to accomplish in your life, MUST happen…

Because if it doesn’t, you know that you will be the lion’s next victim as you sit confused in the middle of the intersecting pathways.

***

With all this talk of being right and the uneasiness that comes with the fact that I myself might admit that I need to adjust a few things along life’s journey, I have to ask myself a few questions along the way…

  • – What would our relationships look like if we could sprinkle kindness and humility with our answers when delivering what we think is right?
  • – How much stronger would our families ties be if we shouted praise for the one who is attempting to make positive changes instead of scraping at every little negative thing about their life?
  • – Would work be more pleasant of an experience if we stopped putting other co-workers down because of our unconscious competence and we ourselves have forgotten the learning curve we went through to become the experts (being right all the time!) in our field?

***

Then…

Sometimes…most times, really…I fear being made fun of, I fear shame, I fear ridicule, I fear what society thinks of me, I fear what you think about this blog, I fear being wrong…

I fear, fear, fear!

Thus, I must be right, at least appear to be right—no matter what—which is dangerous turf.

It takes me to a place of evasion and deflecting that usually means I wind up crossing the lines of my own integrity. I will lie and say, “Yep, I agree” or “I know” when I don’t or didn’t and I violate my own values.

Ugh…

***

How many positive changes could we make if we acknowledged that we might not be right all the time and say…

“It’s okay, let’s go this way for a while and see what happens?”


Photo by Micaela Parente on Unsplash

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Burnout, Life Hack, Living Better, Reinvention, Self-Improvement, 0 comments
<em>If You Want Peace, You Need to Stop Asking These Questions</em>

If You Want Peace, You Need to Stop Asking These Questions

Ever wake up in the middle of the night worrying about money?

How about trying to figure out what to do with a touchy family situation.

Perhaps it’s thinking about what a jerk of a boss you have and how to go about finding another job.

Maybe you are the boss and you’re fretting overnight on the dreaded, “I’m sorry, but I have to let you go,” speech you need to have with an employee.

There are a plethora of items that can keep us up at night; stealing precious sleep from us and thus shaving precious years off of our lives.

Yet, you need not be asleep to be hit with anxiety, fear, and worry. It happens to us all and depending on the season in life, it can steal our focus and we lose track of the now.

I have found in the course of a life lived, that dwelling over a few types of questions can rob me of enjoying life because my attention is not here in the moment but in the future, worrying about situations or conversations that haven’t happened and probably never will.

Or, I time travel to the past and get knotted up over failures and frustrations that steal the moment and cloud my future.

It’s pathetic.

***

So, here’s a few items that I’ve identified that when I stop asking myself these things, my mind seems a bit clearer and my emotions don’t sink into an abyss.

This list isn’t inclusive but it’s a good starting point…

A) Why doesn’t she / he love me? Who knows.

But you say, “Wait, they said they did!” you argue. Right, I know…that’s what they said. People are complex and fickle. For some, the relationship isn’t nurtured, maintained, and lovingly watered, then like any living plant that doesn’t get attention, it dies. Some are just players and some are only interested in the beginning hype of a relationship. One of my darkest detours took me down the road with a person who after only a short time told me, “Hey, you’re a great guy, and sorry you feel used.” Then she wiped her hands of me like she just finished a bag of chips.

Once I stopped asking why did she…blah blah blah, and started focusing on my boundaries, learning more about who I am, and taking care of myself, the faster I got over that dip in the road.

There’s 7.6 billion people on this planet now, not everyone is going to love you but there are those who will stick closer to you than any relative. And there are those who you will find that will love you for who you are and will respect you, cherish you, and appreciate you.

B) Why does this always happen to me? Oh boy, I can’t tell you how many times this has fallen from my lips. Yet, until I took inventory of my own life; from the filters I carry around—the way I perceive life—to the situations I allow myself into without any thoughtfulness, it seemed like a never ending circle that I couldn’t wiggle free of.

It’s easy to get caught up in life and not consider making intentional decisions about our environment. Some of my own toxic cycles were due to being around toxic people—those hellbent on making sure you and everyone else around them were as miserable as they are; drama filled and unending gossip. Stuck in toxic situations that the only person holding the key to freedom was me!

If we desire a different outcome, we must live intentionally and change our environment.

C) Why did I say that? Why didn’t I say X or Y? Why did I do that? Why didn’t I do X or Y? For some, these questions will haunt until the grave.

It doesn’t have to be that way. We are human. Again, here’s an opportunity for us to learn about ourselves. We can shove ourselves into a hole and continually beat ourselves down to keep ourselves in the hole, or we can look at the situation before us and think about how we will handle something similar in the future.

I wonder if we beat ourselves to a pulp with these words because we fear what others think of us and we don’t allow ourselves any wiggle room to be human. What if we took more of an approach to life of Not perfection but progress. That’s what change is, a process, not a destination.

D) Why am I so stupid? Or, Why am I such an idiot? Or, Why am I a failure? This usually comes after the above question of Why did I… Almost like a natural cascade of dominos toppling upon each other until none is left standing.

This type of question encases us into a box in our mind that is difficult to break free from. We don’t see all the accomplishments we have made to date and all the blessings around us, instead it’s the speck on the wall that gets all the focus.

I recently had a day where I kept forgetting everything. It was also a day I was swamped with a great deal of responsibility. Reflection is something I practice more of these days and that practice I’ve incorporated into my daily walk saved me from a long night of restless despair.

Reflecting on your day and what was going on will help put things into perspective. It’s also a plus if you’re able to talk to someone who knows you and cares enough about you to make you accountable to your negative self-talk that can keep you from plunging into a dark hole.

E) Why can’t I…? Why don’t I…? Why…? Limiting self-belief in every area of our lives sorely hinders us. When was the last time you took an honest look at what you say about yourself? And, when was the last time you truly considered how you talk about yourself to others, and to yourself?

Granted, chances are we won’t be the next man or woman on mars but dang it, we just don’t give ourselves enough credit for the things we do well, or the things we excel at, or the things we have accomplished. This question brings up a slew of self-doubt that seems to inhibit us from moving forward. And if we stop moving forward, then it usually is an indication of being stalled and stuck; blinded by a limiting self-belief that is far from accurate.

***

These are a few questions that have stolen my peace more than once.

The sooner I let go of these questions like the seedling chutes of a dandelion floating away in the breeze, the sooner my mind can rest and my heart can find peace.


Photo by Evan Dennis on Unsplash

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Life Hack, Living Better, Reinvention, Self-Improvement, 0 comments