Ego and the need to be right

One time I had a really stupid debate with someone about whether or not a certain store existed at the mall. I said it did and that we went there; she said it never did and that a different store was there instead.

I was able to prove my point. I found a Wikipedia entry about the history of the mall that proved that the store I said we went to was indeed there at the time I said it was. The store she said we went to instead didn’t even open until four years after I moved away.

But in the end, did it any of it matter? At the time, I was so indignant about her assertion that the store I named never existed. After all, my memory is often spotty, but I do remember that very clearly. It was a largely irrelevant and pointless debate but I was so invested in the need to be right. So was she. Our egos were butting up against each other, which is one of the biggest problems with ego in general. You prioritize the need to be right over the need to maintain healthy relationships.

The need to be right is hard to give up sometimes, especially if you were both a know-it-all little kid like I was, in addition to regularly having my reality questioned. But ultimately it’s all just defensiveness, which comes straight from the ego and our attachment to it.

My spiritual path teaches that we need to lessen our attachments: to things, viewpoints, even people. There’s a difference between healthy attachments, which make us feel safe and loved, and unhealthy attachments which cause suffering. But ultimately even the healthy attachments can cause suffering as well, especially if you experience loss.

Ego is inherently insecure. It means that you’re not at peace with yourself and feel that you have something to prove. Furthermore, ego is often dependent on other people and how you relate to them. You can’t be truly compassionate and understanding of others until you get rid of that need to prove yourself right.

I’m finding that this is my biggest struggle with myself right now and my efforts toward self-improvement. It’s really difficult to let go of that need to be right. I’m still meditating but not yet having a breakthrough. This is an issue I’ll be working on for a long time.

I found out that we’ve hit our maximum out-of-pocket deductible for the year thanks to my husband’s cancer and I believe his new insurance covers therapy. I’m really looking forward to getting into therapy and examining this issue and others and learning how to fix them.

In the end, so much of what we fight about is so inconsequential. It really doesn’t matter if a certain store was at the mall, regardless of whether or not I was right. When you try to prove yourself right, you come off as rude, maybe winning the battle but losing the war. As my husband often says, it’s better to be kind than to be right.

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