My patience as a parent is continually tested by my 10-year old’s need to be right. I engage far too often in a test of wills as we battle for who is right. I know in the back of my mind that right isn’t necessarily what’s important. Being honest, being compassionate, being reliable – those are traits to strive for. Being right, well that’s really about the ego.
Obviously we all love being right when it comes to matters of fact or real life importance, but most of us lock horns when we are obsessed with being right on matters of the heart – things we feel passionately about. But our egos truly get in the way when they push us to stop listening or seek a compromise because only being right will do. This is most evident with the current HUGE ego standoff between republicans and democrats.
Trump is nothing but an egomaniac who is driven 24/7 with being right even when he is clearly wrong (even when just the day before he said he was right with a completely opposite stance). Many people believe to their bones that they are right about Hillary, that she’s a duplicitous power hungry bitch who cannot be trusted when she smiles and says she’s right. Because of our need to be right, we have all been subjected to over 12 months of rhetoric and mud slinging just to be on the side that gets to say they’re right (the winners).
What’s wrong with all this is that 99% of the time being right doesn’t make a bit of difference. Clearly the majority of American’s thought they were right to elect Obama. The Republican controlled House and Senate however, thought they were right to deem every one of his acts or proposals as wrong. The end result is that almost nothing has improved in the last four years, and whether Trump or Clinton wins, the next four years are likely to be just as stagnant as the last. Sadly, being the right person for the Presidency this year won’t change what’s wrong.
Forget about politics, how about the entertainment industry? Kanye West is so certain that everything he does is right, he had no compunction interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech a few years back to inform the whole world that Beyonce was the right winner. His wife Kim Kardashian believes she was wrongfully attacked because she posted a nude photo of herself as a “mother with nothing to wear.” Who’s right, the outraged women of the world, or the self-obsessed media whore who was exercising her right to free speech?
What I’m trying to teach my child is the difference between “beneficial rightness” and “detrimental rightness.” When we correct a friend, spouse or parent as they’re telling a story and their facts are little out of order, does interrupting and/or correcting them serve any purpose? Does it make the story better? Does it make them feel better or you?
Conversely, when you correct someone (like your kids) on something like the spelling of a word, or a math equation, that benefits them. When you correct their behavior or their nutrition, that benefits them. When a candidate denies lying about their past, if there are validated facts that prove them wrong, we as a people should learn what’s right (i.e., true) — that benefits us.
So who IS right, or when is it right to be right? Who cares! Ultimately being right doesn’t get the job done – real listening and compromise is what’s needed in this world.
When someone says or does something that hurts your feelings what do you do? Do you keep silent while letting it fester? Do you speak up hoping to get an apology? Or do you just shake it off? I suspect a majority of you do the first option, a handful do the second, and very few shake it off.
I bring this up because I find that one of the largest stumbling blocks I encounter when coaching/training a person is their inability to get past something that happened IN THE PAST. We’ve all had hurtful comments lobbed our way on the school yard, or had a sibling poke relentless fun at our weaknesses. Many of us have some kind of baggage about our parents that comes into play when we ourselves become parents. For some it’s a lack of support or good communication from loved ones. But whatever the issue is, we keep analyzing, rehashing and refocusing of our mind’s microscope onto the hurt instead of fixing it so we can move on.
This becomes a big deal when you’re trying to get into shape, i.e., lose body fat that has accumulated because of your reactions to past hurts or your choice to play the martyr and not put your physical needs into the priority column. I can teach you how to eat, I can teach you the most effective way to perform cardio so as to burn fat, and I can work your muscles to the point of calorie burning exhaustion. What I cannot do is keep you from negative thoughts and behaviors (like emotional eating). That tasks lies solely on your shoulders. Raise your hand if you’ve skipped a workout or had a bad workout because you were too focused on an emotional issue.
Okay, so how do you do it, you’re asking your computer right now? Well keeping in mind that I am NOT a licensed therapist/psychologist I can only offer this sage wisdom:
Shake it off!
(I could say Let It Go, but that seems to provoke people to spontaneously start singing Frozen! Wink.)
Obviously I am a huge proponent of speaking up (lovingly) when feelings are hurt so as to clean up that figurative spilt milk immediately and move on with a cleaner (healthier) relationship. But sometimes these issues that sabotage our successes are old and weather-worn. Those issues are the ones that as adults our best and quickest path to happiness is to simply let them go. Shake them off. Move on! We cannot change the past. Staying stuck because of something that happened (and that undoubtedly would happen again proving that we could not have changed it anyway) is a waste of precious time.
I reminded myself of this very lesson today. My 9 year old daughter did something last night that really pissed me off. I dwelled on it, stewed over it, held it tightly in my angry fist, and consequently did not sleep well. In the clearer light of day I was able to remind myself that she’s only 9, it’s past and cannot be changed, and I just need to shake it off and get on with being her happy, albeit tired, Mom. The lessons I can teacher her are far better received when I’m teaching through positive action instead of harping on her immature choices and their consequences.
So the next time you find yourself reliving angry or hurt emotion over something that happened either yesterday, or years ago, either fix it immediately, or shake it off and move on. Your body and mind will be healthier for it. (I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Ms. Taylor Switf’s song Shake It Off is firmly implanted in my gym playlist and I played this morning in the car as a reminder. Thanks for the great and catchy song, Ms. Swift!)