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Why “being right” doesn’t work for me

“I don’t care who’s wrong or right. I don’t really wanna fight no more. I don’t care now who’s to blame. I don’t really wanna fight no more. This is time for letting go.” -Tina Turner, I Don’t Wanna Fight

There are two basic models we can use to assess the ideas and practices of others: the first model is referred to as “the right/wrong orientation” and the second model is known as “the work/doesn’t work” orientation.

In the right/wrong orientation, we tend to evaluate people against a given standard or definition of “goodness.” When people think or behave in ways we deem acceptable, we label them “good” or “right”, while other ways of thinking and behaving are judged as “bad” or “wrong.”

In the “work/doesn’t work orientation”, we tend to determine the value of people’s thoughts and deeds in terms of how compatible they are with what we need or desire. Judgemental statements are directed at the agreement or disagreement we feel towards the results we get out of our interaction with others, not towards the actual people and their ways of thinking or behaving. Either something works or it doesn’t. End of story.

We all get to choose which orientation is best for us, but here’s two cents I’d like to offer you from the vantage point of my preferred model, the “work/doesn’t work orientation”:

I experience as much disappointment as anyone else I’ve met; Some people fail to keep their promises with me. Others say and do things that I find unpleasant. People whose attention I would love to have may ignore or overlook me. The list goes on.


My contrasting experiences with people are relatively simple for me to process and wrap my mind around because they aren’t layered with judgmental theories about why others are so “wrong” and the stressful feelings that typically accompany such judgements.

This allows me to deal with my problems in their simplest possible form because the “work/doesn’t work orientation” doesn’t require me to analyze, change, or punish the people whom others may label “bad.”

If someone fails to call me back, that result doesn’t work for me. Simple. I ask myself the following question: “What adjustments am I willing to make to get what I want?” Next, the brainstorming begins until I find a solution. More importantly, that brainstorming session is VERY efficient since my mind is unclouded by resentful thoughts and totally free from any need to figure out what is “wrong” with the person who failed to meet my expectations.

I am able to address my needs with others, successfully modify relationship conditions in which needs are not being met, and effectively eliminate those relationship conditions that are incompatible with my standards WITHOUT losing sleep or making enemies (on MY end).

Does this mean my approach is right? Absolutely not.

It means that it works very effectively for me.

Once upon a time, I was very pleased with myself for having lots of “right” beliefs and I was ready to debate with anyone who was “misinformed.” This attitude became very costly for me as it led to a dominant mood of being frustrated and annoyed with all of the people who didn’t “get it” and all of the ways in which their “not getting it” was hurting the world.

One mantra I’d say to myself as a little reminder was, “When I need others to be wrong, my sufferings are prolonged.”

Making the shift from a “right/wrong orientation” to a “work/doesn’t work orientation” has given me peace of mind and it’s deepened my gratitude for life and it’s helped me attain laser like focus on the things I truly want.

For what it’s worth, that’s my two cents.


T.K. Coleman

This Post Has 2 Comments
    1. Indeed! It’s VERY nice. I feel as if I learn ten times faster now that I don’t waste as much energy trying to get others to see me as having “THE truth.” Glad you relate 🙂

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