I love spending time with my nephew and niece – they challenge me so much and it is such a joy to be around them; plus I am always learning something new in their company. We like to play board game tournaments and we sometimes put a prize up for the winner (mostly me being out of pocket for these prizes – lol) and these board games do get intense because everyone wants to win. However, it does not take long for the person losing to get upset or for someone to feel they are being made fun of even if that is not the case. Over the years, I have noticed that these two always like to have the final say when something goes wrong in the game – therefore messing up a good time. Part of the games is to teach them to be gracious in the face of losing and to be kind when they are winning especially when their opponent is not having a not so good time – and we are still on these lessons. Because when one is losing, the winner likes to make fun of the other and the person losing always likes to have the final say – so I have devised a new strategy, when they begin bickering, instead of trying to talk to them, I pause the game, walk away from the game and allow them to have a moment to think of their actions. When tempers cool, we talk about the consequences of not seeing things from a higher perspective and how it can ruin a good time and relationships. The problem is both my nephew and niece, most times, think they are right!
A couple of months ago, I had a reader reach out to me about people in her life who always seem to want her to see things from their perspective but never from hers. She explained that she was constantly apologising to these people even when she was hurt by their actions, they always seemed to find ways to make it seem like they were right and she was wrong. I wanted to understand her relationship with these people and why she was apologising especially when she was the one hurting – and the deeper I delved the more I realised that with some people, we should just let them be right to maintain our own self respect. As I continued to communicate with this reader, an old friend of mine came to mind – she was in a situation where she was constantly dealing with a person who thought they were right all the time. I remember asking this friend how she dealt with the situation – she advised that after years of trying to reason with someone who always saw themselves right in their own eyes, her only action in the end was to walk away and let them be right. And this is exactly how this dear reader was feeling – she wanted to walk away.
My reader for years had been part of this social group and being a health professional, her shifts at her place of work was not allowing her to be present at this social group like she used to. She had explained her position to leadership in this social setting and she was of the mind that they understood her work commitments – however, she was wrong. She started noticing that she was being excluded from several activities and communication with her was becoming very one sided. Some how, when she shows up in this social group, she recalls feeling like an outsider and she was hurting from how she was being treated. For years she had given her time and resources to this group and she had never expected anything back – but as soon as she was unable to continue these things, she was being treated differently. When she decided to bring the topic up, suddenly she was difficult and there were many things she had apparently done that had been brought to the attention of the leadership – but no one approached her to hear her side.
She recalls that as she tried to give her side of events, she was shut down and told that she was wrong. For months, she narrated that this went on and she found herself apologising for things she had not done just to uphold the peace – in all this time, not once did anyone in leadership take a neutral approach to allow her to express and own her feelings. So I had to ask why she was still a part of the social group. She explained that she did want to leave but she had made connections over the years in this group – but from what she was saying, I could hear that these connections were one sided and she was giving more than receiving. One thing I wanted her to remember was that people come with their own beliefs and ways of thinking – just like my nephew and niece, we all grow up wanting to be right all the time, but with years of guidance, we learn to be flexible when dealing with people who may not see things the same way we do. With people who think their way is always the right way, save yourself the energy and let them be right if they refuse to see your point of view.
From all indications, the social group this reader was part of, was set up in such a way that if a member was not on the good side of the leaders, then they were not thinking of the greater good of the group. Also, it seemed that whatever actions the leaders took, even abusive actions, were always seen to be right and no one had the right to question. I remembered stories I had heard in the news of the abuse in certain religious set ups where leaders abused people for years and no one questioned them – this reader’s story sounded similar to these. Growing up, I had a family member who always disagreed with the fact that I was always vocal about my opinions – she always used to go to my mother to complain about one thing or another that I had said or done wrong. For years, I always tried to explain to this relative my side of the story, but she would always shut me down telling me she was right because she was older. After some time, I decided to not say much when she was around and avoided her – unfortunately that was not good because she felt I was ignoring what she had to say. The point was, I had decided to let her be right by giving my silence in the moments when she always had some feedback for me without seeing things from my perspective. She could have been right in her observations but years of always being right had created a barrier between us both.
We would all love to be right all the time – I mean that would be a great ego booster, but that is certainly not healthy. Years ago, I remember watching an episode of Come Dine With Me – this is a TV show in the UK where contestants cook, host and score each other after a dinner party and the winner gets a cash prize. Over the years, this show has been a great source of entertainment – most people on the show feel they had won because they had done their best – only to lose because there were others that were better at hosting and cooking – most contestants are normally gracious when they lose. However, I remember one episode where the final host lost and after reading the results stormed out of his own living room to sulk upstairs – leaving his guests by themselves and confused in the awkwardness of the moment. I remember immediately thinking, wow, now there is a man who is always right and never wrong, how dare these people have a different opinion to his own opinion of himself?
The reader who got in touch had to make the decision of walking away from her group – she was tired and was finally letting these people in her group be ‘righ’t! No one can be right all the time and we sometimes need to allow other people bring their opinions to the table so we can see a bigger and perhaps better picture. I am in no way saying we should ignore how we feel to let others opinions take precedence – but rather we should give others a chance to express their views without shutting them down just because we think we are right. With my nephew and niece, I sometimes get it wrong and think their heated debate is them bickering – but rather them talking things through why they had made a certain move in a game. I have learnt to allow them both to speak and see things from their perspective before stepping in with advise or walking away – there is so much I have learnt from them especially that I am not always right because I am older. There is so much I have learnt from them because just as much as they need to learn that they are not always right, I need to remember that neither am I.
If like the reader that got in touch, after several open dialogues, certain people in your life want to be right all the time, please let them. Protect your mental health and let them be right – acceptance of their lack emotional intelligence is not a sign of your weakness. Thank you for getting in touch and sharing your experience – please continue to do so and let’s effect positive change.