Be right or be love

I grew up needing, with all my heart, to be right.

Be right

Arguments among us children were limited to verbal form — no punching, kicking, etc., etc.  Perhaps because of this, I became very good at verbal gymnastics.  Or so I see it, anyway.  At the base of that strategy was this tremendous need to win, to be right, to prove the other wrong — in other words, to be a success in the one way we were allowed to express disagreement.

Be wrong

Calling myself a success in this situation is rather an odd approach, now that I am older and know better.  Winning in this kind of contest usually lacked the victorious aura I would have liked.  At first at home, then later, when I tried to apply this strategy in other situations, I ignored the majority of people’s reactions — disdain, maybe a sarcastic smile — I simply assumed they didn’t know how right I was.  Never, during most of my adult life, did I even consider that perhaps I was on the wrong track, that people’s negative reactions to my parade of being right-ness were warranted.

I don’t really remember when my feelings about being wrong or right changed.  I spent a lot of time, learning to believe that I could love myself.  Only then could I think about not being right.  I resisted this at first; how could anyone be happy, not being right?  How could I be happy, without being right — that is, not being the winner?  Why in the world would I ever not want to come out on top of any disagreement?  The answers to these questions eluded me, and I struggled mightily, until my precious sister, S., told me that “I can be right, or I can be love.”


Be right or be love.  In other words, the rules of argument had changed.  I could see, right in front of me, that I no longer needed to make that choice.  I was invited to learn that being love made right or wrong trivial.  Being love offered me a way out of my desperate need to win every disagreement.  Surprisingly, I found that being love was easy, once I released my need to win.  Even when I considered my own skewed understanding of being lovable and being loved, the act of being love set me free.  Thank everything that is holy.

Do I never worry about being right anymore?  Of course I do — one does not unlearn that kind of programming in favor of a single idea that made more sense.  But when I find myself slipping into my old need to win, I do my best to remember the truth and the profundity of one simple rule:  Be right, or be love.


5 responses to “Be right or be love

  1. that’s a great touchstone phrase.

    i think all kids start as presumptive egoists. life leads a shift to being an equal or lesser to everyone at different ages for everyone.

  2. I have to admit, I also laughed at that sentence. I know a lot of people who need to learn what you have. One has to want to change to be able to see what you is actually happening, like you have and I applaud you once again for a wonderful, honest and insightful post. 🙂

  3. I laughed out loud at your comment ‘I simply assumed they didn’t know how right I was’. I see a little of me in that comment, and like you I think I’ve got past the be right at all cost mentality. Your sister’s comment is both very beautiful and apt, one that we should all keep in mind.

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