Image Image

S2 EP138 – Do you want to be right or be loving?

Episode Summary

How do you end up feeling when you try to convince someone that you are right and they are wrong? Are you afraid to be wrong and be accountable for your choices? Does this lead to power struggles in your relationships? Discover the blessings in making it okay to be wrong and to make mistakes, and the relief in not having to be right.


Hi everyone. Dr. Margaret Paul here with the Inner Bonding podcast. Today I want to talk about what happens with yourself and your relationships when you are attached to being right, or at least not being wrong, rather than focused on being loving to yourself and others.

Often, in my work with my clients, when we talk about their fear of speaking their truth, or their fear of trying something new, and I ask them to go deeper into the fear, what they often say is, “What if I’m wrong?” or “What if what I want to do isn’t what I’m supposed to do?” worrying about being wrong about their choices.

Having to be right and the fear of being wrong not only may be keeping you stuck in your life, but it has major negative effects on relationships. As you will see, it’s very loving to yourself and to others to let go of having to be right and be able to admit when you are wrong.

Equally important is not being invested in getting someone else to see that they are wrong, and you are right.

How often have you been in situations similar to the following?

  • Your partner messes up and then attacks and blames you for it.
  • Someone promises something, doesn’t do it, and then finds a way to blame you for it.
  • Someone is blatantly unloving to you – attacking you, blaming you, projecting their issues and feelings on to you, withdrawing from you – and then denies that this ever happened.
  • Someone lies about something important and then denies that they ever said what they said.

What do you generally do in this situation?

  • Do you get angry and try to get them to see what they did or are doing, trying to get them to admit that they are wrong or unloving?
  • Do you shut down, punishing them for their unloving behavior in the hope that they will see what they are doing wrong and apologize?
  • Do you defend and explain to them what they are doing wrong, hoping to get them to see it and admit to it and stop doing it?

What generally happens when you do this?

When people are behaving in an attacking, blaming, self-absorbed, untruthful, or bullying ways, they are coming from their ego wounded self. When someone is in their wounded ego, all they want is to get approval, avoid pain, be right and avoid being wrong. Therefore, anything you do to try to get them to see what they are doing wrong will fall on deaf ears, and in fact, all of the above behaviors – your attempts to get them to see how wrong and unloving they are being, are coming from your own wounded self, wanting control over getting them to see that you are right and they are wrong.

What a mixed-up dynamic! Generally, nothing good comes of this.

What if you were to completely accept that you have no control over getting them to see how unloving they are being or how wrong they are about you or about a situation? What if you accept that, when someone is in their ego wounded self, there is nothing you can say or do to get them to see the error of their ways? What if there is no way of being right?

I know it’s very challenging to accept that you cannot get someone to see that they are crazy making you with their projecting, lying, attacking, blaming behavior, but the reality is that you can’t get them to see it. Not even after the fact. Because, when they are in their ego wounded self, they often don’t remember it the way you do, so even if you bring it up later, it likely won’t get anywhere. They will keep denying it and you will feel more crazy-made.

Once you fully accept the reality that you can’t get them to see what they are doing, then you are free to focus on taking loving care of yourself. You are free to say nothing, to lovingly disengage and do your own Inner Bonding work. You are free to compassionately embrace your pain over being treated badly. You are free to help your inner child to not take the other’s behavior personally. You are free to tune into your feelings and your guidance, asking for the truth and learning to trust your feelings and your higher guidance.

Once your focus is on loving yourself rather than trying to control someone else and get them to see they are wrong and you are right, you will be amazed at how wonderful you feel. A major cause of stress is trying to control what you can’t control, and a major result of letting go of control and loving yourself is inner peace and joy, even in the face of others’ unloving behavior.

Instead of trying to get others to be accountable for their mistakes and being wrong, why not focus on your own accountability?

What’s the first thing you think when you make a mistake, or you know you are wrong about something? If you’re like most people, you will either blame someone else or blame yourself.

Blaming, even blaming yourself, is not at all the same thing as being accountable.

Why is it so hard to be accountable for ourselves – to take responsibility for ourselves when we are wrong or make mistakes? One of the problems may lie in the connotations we have applied to these words.

When you think of the words “responsibility” or “accountability,” what comes up for you?

What are the judgments attached to these words?

  • If I’m wrong or make mistakes, I’m bad and I’m humiliated.
  • It’s my fault. I’m to blame, and this means I’m not good enough.
  • I’m inadequate.
  • I’m unworthy and therefore unlovable.

What are the fears attached to these judgments?

  • I’m going to be rejected and I will end up alone.
  • I’m going to have to give myself up to make up for being wrong or making a mistake.
  • I’m going to have to hear about how bad I am.
  • Bad things are going to happen now.

If anything like this comes up for you, no wonder it’s hard to be accountable!

Think back to your childhood. What happened when you did something your parents or caregivers didn’t like?

Did any of these scapegoating experiences happen to you?

  • I was yelled at.
  • I was hit.
  • I was lectured to and judged.
  • I was shamed and blamed, made to feel like a terrible person.
  • I was made to feel responsible for another’s feelings.
  • I was isolated and shunned.
  • I was shamed in front of others and made to feel humiliated.

If any of these happened to you, then the message was clear: “I’m not okay if I’m wrong or I make a mistake. Mistakes are bad and wrong, and I’m bad and wrong if I make a mistake or do something that someone else is upset about.”

Wouldn’t this make it very hard to be accountable for ourselves? 

Here is how I learned to be accountable and be fine with being wrong and making mistakes.

Since perfectionism was one of my control strategies, I agonized whenever I was wrong about something or made a mistake. I would feel so awful – so humiliated and mortified. I would get very defensive when someone was upset with me – until I finally decided that it was okay for me to be human! It was only after I took the badness off being wrong or making mistakes or upsetting others that I was able to hold myself accountable for my choices.

Life became much easier when I realized that I can’t be human without it being okay to be wrong and make mistakes, and that I can’t learn, grow, or take risks without being wrong, making mistakes, and sometimes upsetting others. I even learned to laugh at myself when I’m wrong and at some of my mistakes!

Taking the badness off being wrong and making mistakes made it much easier for me to be accountable. Now, being accountable no longer scares me. It just means that I’m responsible for my choices and their consequences, which I now find empowering rather than intimidating or humiliating.

It’s amazing how much relief I feel when I take responsibility for the outcome of my choices – good or bad. Being accountable means that I don’t have to pretend anything. I don’t have put on a front or hide being wrong or making mistakes.

Part of being accountable means that you not only accept that you are human and will sometimes be wrong and make mistakes, it also means that you accept that you have a wounded self who is sometimes unloving and controlling – who can be angry, judgmental, shut down, and resistant. It means that you don’t judge your wounded self so that you can be accountable when you’re closed and controlling and less than loving to yourself or others. It means making it okay for you to make mistakes and be wrong or unloving so that you can learn instead of shame yourself each time you’re less than who you want to be. The learning is the prize, the jewel within the mistake or the unloving behavior – the jewel that you can’t access when you refuse to be accountable.

One of the major consequences in relationships are the power struggles that stem from the fear of being wrong, or the addiction to having to be right.

Power struggles insidiously undermine the love and caring in relationships. When you are intent on being right or not being wrong or controlled, all your focus and energy goes into winning or not losing. Since you cannot be caring and be trying to control or not be controlled by being right or not being wrong at the same time, caring diminishes as power struggles increase.

When not being controlled is the primary intent in a relationship, conflict can occur over the most minor of situations. It is not the issue itself that is the problem, but the intent regarding how the issue is handled. Minor situations such as one partner leaving dishes unwashed until morning can explode into full-blown fighting when partners get locked into the power struggles that stem from needing to be right, to be in control, or the fear of being wrong and being judged and controlled. Caring about a partner who doesn’t like dirty dishes left out overnight becomes incidental when you are protecting against losing yourself through being controlled by your partner. Partners get stuck when they try to prove they are right or not wrong in order to not be judged and controlled.

Power struggles may continue until one person develops enough of a loving adult – through practicing Inner Bonding – to change his or her intent from controlling to caring. When it is more important to be kind to yourself and the other person than it is to be right or not wrong, then you will disengage from the power struggle. Instead of trying to get the other person to see things your way, you will decide how to take care of yourself. Instead of being reactive, you will tune into what is in your highest good and take the loving action in your own behalf. You will explore your fears of being wrong and making mistakes and be accountable for your choices.

While it is always wonderful when both people learn how take accountability for their choices, it is not necessary for the power struggle to end. One person disengaging from his or her end of the power struggle will totally change the system. If you are the one always wanting to be right, letting go of trying to change the other person and taking care of yourself will stop power struggles. If you are generally defensive to avoid being wrong, choosing kindness rather than defensiveness will cause power struggles to cease.

When caring about yourself and the other person is more important than being right or not being wrong, then kindness will prevail, and power struggles will become a thing of the past.

Juliette and William consulted with me for couple’s counseling because they seemed to fight over every little thing. They loved each other, but the fighting was getting in the way of expressing their love for each other.

When I work with couples who have conflict, I ask them to tell me about a recent conflict so that I can experience their system. They chose a recent conflict over chores, but it could have been any conflict because the dynamic between them was the same no matter what the issue: One of them would complain about something – like the house being messy or the other person not being on time, and the other would argue, explain, and defend. Then they would go back and forth, each one defending and explaining their position – trying to be right or not wrong. Neither one listened to the other or even seemed to care about the other’s feelings or position. They would each get locked into their positions, seeing themselves as right and trying to convince the other person to see it their way. It was obvious that being right and winning was way more important to both of them than being loving to themselves or to each other.

In their system, one of them would approach the other with an intention to win, to be right – to control. The other partner, not wanting to be wrong or be controlled, would defend and go into resistance. Each were trying to be right and win or at least not lose and be seen as wrong. They were stuck with no way of resolving any of their issues.

While Juliette and William felt that loved each other, caring was not a part of this system. As soon as an issue came up, they stopped caring about themselves and each other. They were so intent on winning or not losing and on not being wrong that caring went out the window.

“At any given moment,” I said to them, “you are either in the intent to control or the intent to learn. The problem is that both of you immediately choose the intent to control. Juliette, I’d like you to try right now to listen to William’s concerns about the messiness of the house. See if you can find a place of caring about his feelings. See if you can really listen and see it through his eyes. Then I will have him do the same for you.”

As Juliette really listened to William with caring and a desire to learn, she began to understand his frustration. For the first time, William felt really heard regarding this issue. Then William really listened to Juliette, trying to see things through her experience. They found that as they each began to understand the other’s feelings and experience, new ideas came up to resolve the problem.

Being in the intent to learn is about learning rather than about solving problems. Resolution may be the outcome, or it may not, but the new learning will inevitably lead to positive change.

Often, people are reluctant to listen to each other for fear of losing themselves or being seen as wrong. They fear that if they listen to the other person, they will appear to be weak and will get taken advantage of. But the intent to learn is not just about listening to the other – it is also about listening to yourself and learning to stand in your own truth without having to impose it on another by having to be right. If you are caring about both yourself and the other person, then you will not end up losing yourself in the conflict.

The intent to learn is about being compassionate with both yourself and the other person. When caring and compassion are more important than winning and being right, you will find a way for both of you to win.

Next time you are having a conflict, move into an Inner Bonding process and ask yourself, “Am I trying to control or am I willing to learn? Do I want to be right, or do I want to be loving?” Even if your partner continues to try to control when you open to compassionate learning, you will discover new inner power, strength, and wisdom that is far more satisfying than winning or not losing.

One of the people who has contributed articles to our website is Larry Hochman, who teaches people how to have successful home businesses. He wrote some very interesting things in an article for our site called, “The Art of Being Wrong.” He says that we should be willing to be wrong more often – that “the ability to be wrong is an interpersonal skill” because:

“When someone thinks they are right, no matter what, they are mentally locked in to seeing things their way. They have no opportunity to grow and change because their position is the only right one. Why listen to anyone else when you KNOW you have the answer?”

He goes on to say that it’s when we are open to being wrong that we can learn new and creative things. And that it’s not just being willing to be wrong that is a key to creating loving relationships, but that “ADMITTING that you are wrong is the key!”

Have you ever had the experience between you and another person when the other person came to you and admitted they were wrong? What happened then? Did it lead to good feelings? Did it make it easier for you to also admit that maybe you were also wrong or not caring in the way you were arguing? Did it make it easier to resolve things? 

“Being wrong,” Larry Hochman says, “has saved more marriages than being right.” I couldn’t agree more!

I encourage you to take the wrongness out of being wrong, and to see having to be right as an addiction of your wounded self. Hopefully, then you can make being loving, caring, and compassionate with yourself and others way more important than being right.

I hope you join me for my online video 30-Day course to heal your relationships: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.

You can learn so much about loving yourself and creating loving relationships from my recent books:

And we have much to offer you at our website at

I’m sending you my love and my blessings.

Related Articles


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *