couple arguing about being right

Can You Give Up On Being Right?

What’s the hardest thing to do?

Give up on being right.

This can come up all the time with your sweetie, and in absolutely any relationship in your life.

Here’s what happens:

You have an idea, and you think it’s pretty good. Or you remember something, and you’re pretty sure your memory about this thing is accurate. It’s not a particularly important thought. It may be trivial to you.

Then your mate or mother or friend disagrees with you and offers an opposing point of view. You find yourself arguing. As the argument continues, you own your point of view with more and more strength. You begin to identify so strongly with your side that it feels as if it is part of you.

You will not let go. You are right, dammit!

The person you’re arguing with digs in to their point of view too.

You know you’ve fallen into one of these kinds of arguments when you try to sound way more casual than you feel when you say “let’s google it.”

Why do we have to be right?

We become biased towards our own ideas. If a group of people are brainstorming to solve a problem, each person will tend to prefer the solutions they thought of themselves. They become attached to their own ideas BECAUSE they thought of them.

We have a tendency to identify with and prefer our own ideas.

Some issues really matter. If you and your sweetie need to decide where you’ll live, or whether to have a child, you’re invested in your point of view because the argument itself matters.

Some issues really don’t matter.

I’ve been in arguments that really don’t matter, but if you put me on mute and watched one of these arguments, you would think I was talking about something important.

I have found myself arguing vigorously about a petty issue and then forgetting soon after which side of the argument I had been on.

What can you do to stop having these (stupid) arguments: try these 4 tools.

  1. Observe yourself in the argument. Throw a little mindfulness at the situation. You can continue to argue, but for a moment observe what you are saying and feeling. Now you’re playing 2 roles: the one who wants to be right and the one who is observing. That’s a good step.
  2. State what is going on between you. That doesn’t mean you say “Oh, it’s interesting that I’m right and you’re arguing with me about this.” It means you say something like: “We are getting really heated about how to load the dishwasher, aren’t we?”
  3. Step away and return in a few minutes. Go to the bathroom. When you return, see if you still care about the argument.
  4. Stop arguing while the issue is unresolved. You might believe you’ve only got two options, stating that you’re right or that you’re wrong. Usually that’s not true. Soften your hold on the struggle instead.

We are experienced couples therapists who help people work through big and small problems every day. Is it time to talk to a therapist? Call us at 415-534-4051 or schedule a free consultation now.