That’s Right Too

I’m life coach and sometime philosopher Peter Winslow. When last we met I left you with a question: why do we feel the need to be right, even in the face of uncertainty or harm?

That’s right (har!)—it’s ego. Ego always has to be right. As a rule, every person believes that what he or she thinks is right, and no ego can be at rest with itself when it knows the beliefs it lives by are blatantly wrong.

And yet, we’ve all witnessed people who are never flustered when others disagree with them or charge them with being wrong. How do they do it? These people are generally happy with who they are; it follows that their egos are aligned with a deeper aspect, one which observes without judgment.

You’ve probably asked yourself the question more than once: would I rather be right—or happy? The next time you find yourself baited into an argument, put it to the test. Here’s how:

With all sincerity, tell the person confronting you with an argument that they’re right, and leave it at that. Remember, you are addressing their critical thinking—the ego—which wants to be right. By agreeing with them, you’ll take the wind out of their argument and defuse a potentially volatile situation. They may not even know how to respond to you, and the solution you seek will be much easier to find.

Even if your own ego is tying itself in knots over the issue at argument, this exercise is liberating. The payoff: When people disagree with you, realize they’re not opposing you; their egos are differing with the beliefs and constructs of your ego. Your job is to not take any of it personally. The solution really can be that simple.

– Peter Winslow

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That’s Right

I’m life coach and part-time philosopher Peter Winslow. Lately I’ve become aware that like most people, I am very fond of being “right.” As I contemplated what this says about me, a deeper question fell into my lap: what if there was no such thing as “right” or “wrong?” In other words, what if everything was sacred?

There are well-established philosophies in the world that maintain the very same. They hold no moral high-ground for the concepts of right and wrong. To them, it’s simply a matter of law: actions have consequences, and we learn from our mistakes.

Karma, they call it. They believe, as the founders of the world’s great religions had taught, that there is no redemption in judging people as “right” or “wrong.” That task is left to providence.

Why then do so many people stake their happiness and sanity on the need to be right? It’s a Herculean task, considering that righteousness can be a moving target. Very often, what is right now may be left behind later on. Right or wrong, left or right… who’s to say?

It was once considered good and proper to own human beings, until enough people deemed it no longer right to do so. The argument split our country in two, leading a nation to war against itself. Many on both sides of the issue met their ends believing they were absolutely right.

What aspect of humankind so fervently feels the need to be right, even in the face of death and devastation?

The answer: the cognitive mind, also called ego. This is the aspect that pursues “rights and wrongs” with reckless abandon. Its very existence depends upon being “right,” to establish support for its beliefs, to impress those beliefs on others, and ultimately to have them capitulate in agreement.

Yes indeed, we are right. We can’t all be wrong…. can we? Tune in to the next installment for the righteous answers.

– Peter Winslow