Being right is about being in control.
I'm right. Anyone can see that I'm right.
He should've called when he said he would. She shouldn't have partied in Las Vegas with her girlfriends, then come home too tired to go to the wedding she said she'd attend with me. He should've followed through and picked up the kids at the appointed time. She shouldn't be drinking anymore.
And the beat goes on.
When we're in a relationship with a difficult or toxic person, we're perpetually disappointed when they let us down because their behavior is disappointing. But when we add needing to be right to the equation, we double our misery.
In my final toxic relationship I knew all the things my boyfriend should be doing. There were lots of little things:
- He shouldn't take his bad moods out on me.
- He should be consistent.
- He should be more affectionate.
- He should be less secretive. Was he secretive because there were other women?
- He should give the other women up.
But the whopper was this one: He should go to therapy to heal his childhood issues so he could finally commit and marry me.
And I was right. But I was also very unhappy.
Being right is about being in control.
When we try to control other people by being right, we're not allowing ourselves to accept reality, to accept what actually is. If you have to ask someone more than three times to change their behavior, chances are you need to accept them for who they really are. And the more we accept people for who they really are, not who we think they should be, the more we can grieve the loss of what we wanted them to be.
Grieving allows us to let go.
There are some difficult people we can set free, like a dove or a necromancer gone out of control (think Voldemort) to continue on their own spiritual journey without us, like women and men we're not married to, or don't have children with.
But then there are the difficult people we have to keep in our lives, to some degree. These are people we don't want to divorce or people we have children with, or both. Even with these people, we must let go of being right and accept them for who they are in order for us to become more serene.
Here are some examples of small issues:
- He always runs late. Instead of yelling at him each and every time, accept that he'll always be late and add a time buffer to any plans with him.
- She hates attending couple's events. Instead of coercing, pleading, and manipulating her into attending, take a friend instead or go solo.
- You feel like he uses you when he needs things, but isn't there for you when you need things. Instead of leaping to fill his needs, only do things for him if they're "for fun" or "for free." This means you don't expect anything in return.
Always check your motives when filling his needs. Are you trying to get something from him? Will you be resentful if you do this and he doesn't return the favor? If so, stop what you're doing and focus instead on taking care of yourself.
Letting go of being right over important issues is more challenging, but still possible. For example:
- If your ex or current husband is inconsistent with childcare, don't rely on him for something so important. Make other arrangements.
- If your partner is prone to infidelity, protect yourself from disease with condoms or cease being their sexual partner.
- If your ex-wife or wife has a drinking and driving problem, get her an Uber app and never let her drive your children.
- If your spouse is violent with you or your children, you must accept this as fact — you cannot hope he'll change. This means immediately removing yourself and your children from harm's way.
We don't have to accept the unacceptable (violence and danger) but we do have to accept reality. The more we can let go of being right and make adjustments based on reality, the more happiness and serenity will enter our lives.
This article was originally published at ShannonColleary. Reprinted with permission from the author.