I want to talk about the magical secret to joy that is found in letting other people be wrong — about you, about science, about fashion, about astrology, about what they heard you say, what they’re interpreting what they heard you say to mean — about all of it. This matters because it’s a big topic for us, coming from our codependent, perfectionist and people pleasing thought habits. Because we source our sense of self and thus our sense of embodied safety from everyone and everything around us, we feel an almost compulsion to micromanage our image — how others see us, what they think and feel about us — because we believe that their thoughts and opinions matter much more than our own opinion about us.
So we spend our own mental and physical energy, our time, our money, our emotional resources attempting to be seen in the Most Perfect Light by everyone else always. Which means jumping to correct others when we think they believe something inaccurate about us, or when they are dead set on misunderstanding us, or when we think they are about the world, and we are deeply dedicated to the belief that it is better to be right than to be happy.
It is more important to us, from our codependent, perfectionist and people pleasing mindframe to be right, to get that dopamine rush of Righteousness, than to be happy.
Especially when your self worth is based on the image you present to the world being a Perfect One which also comes down to being the Most Rightest One versus freeing yourself up and going with the flow. Remember the central tenet of the thought work protocol — you have your thoughts that create your feelings, and so does everyone else.
So what we try to do from our insecurity is to convince people that we’re right, and they’re wrong.
We use logic to try to get others to see us as beyond reproach because our self worth is always on the line, regardless of the topic at hand.
But here’s the thing: logic rarely changes people’s minds.
Logic is not what changes the way we humans think, feel or act — we take action based on how we feel, and how we believe we will feel when we take that action.
Trying to convince someone that they are wrong about science, about a political stance, or about you is like screaming at the ocean to stop making waves.
It’s unlikely to work and it’s a waste of your time, energy and effort, my darling tiny tiger. It keeps you spinning in the thoughts that other people’s thoughts matter when it comes to your self image and self worth, that being right is more important than being happy.
Here’s the thing to remember: the way people think in general and definitely the way people think about you has zero things to do with logic, and frankly nothing to do with you. Zero! We’re all just projecting our own internal story onto everything and everyone around us.
Other people think the way they think about you because of the feelings those thoughts create for them, not some complex underlying logical schema.
Trying to convince someone using logic to have different feelings is just, well, illogical!
We all do illogical things — like when you have the thought that you feel distance from your partner, and that makes you feel insecure so you snap at them about something silly when what you want most is connection, and the result is more discord and distance.
Caring about what other people think about you is living in judgement, not acceptance.
You’re judging them for their thoughts that you don’t agree with or you wouldn’t be arguing your point.
Not letting others simply be wrong about you keeps your focus on them, which is the cornerstone of codependent thinking.
We focus on everyone else, and not ourselves, which keeps us stuck in our painful old patterns.
From that external focus we:
- Defer our dreams because someone else might not approve of them.
- We defend who we think we are because our belief in ourselves feels so shaky.
- We stay in jobs we don’t like because we feel validated or worthy because of our title.
- We live in the past — worrying about what your ex-friend or ex-partner thinks or might think about you.
- We don’t speak up about social justice issues to not rock the boat.
- We fight to be heard instead of hearing ourselves.
- We don’t start the business we want to because it might fail.
- We don’t make strides to reclaim our lives from all the thoughts we’ve been conditioned, socialized and told about what’s possible for us.
- We push to be seen the way we want to be seen by people who have no interest in truly seeing us, and so we lose sight of ourselves more and more.
- We stay small and fight for others to understand us, to make them wrong so we can feel right because we don’t know yet how to just decide to feel right within ourselves and to have that be enough.
What it comes down to is that it’s all about false control and the false comfort of false control.
Fighting for people to think about you the way you want them to think about you or the world is, in fact buffering. Trying to keep a painful or uncomfortable thought and feeling like “maybe I am wrong, maybe I am a bad partner, parent, child, worker, lover, whatever,” at bay by fighting to change someone else’s mind instead of anchoring yourself back into your own sense of self, your own inner knowing about your amazingness and sometimes recognizing that you may be wrong.
For example, your mother in law tells you she thinks that you’re not a good parent because you’re employing gentle interdependence parenting skills. You have two options: fight her to try to change her mind all the while questioning yourself, or you can ground yourself, anchor yourself in you and can allow her to be a human whose neurons are firing on a different channel. You can truly choose to let that be okay: “I hear you that that’s your opinion, and you’re welcome to it.”
She has her opinion, and you have yours, and that truly can be okay.
Let’s say you’re in an argument with your partner or your BFF or your sibling and they just aren’t hearing you. They’re saying you’re being some way, let’s say they say you’re being stubborn or defensive. What’s interesting to note is that so often we bump up against someone seeing us in a way we dont want to see ourselves, so we push back: “well you’re being stubborn in not seeing my point!” Which is actually you digging your heels in and being stubborn. “You’re not understanding me — that’s not what I said!” is actually you being defensive.
These moments when we so desperately want someone to see us the way we see us are moments when we can pause and can see if in fighting against the mirror someone is holding up for us, we are actually embodying that thing we say we aren’t and say we don’t want to be.
Sometimes the other person is wrong and in those moments there is so much power in pausing and connecting with our breath, grounding ourselves in ourselves.
When Friday night rolls along and it’s time to go meet your friends for a hangout you planned months ago and your partner is on the couch in their boxers saying “you never told me about these plans.”
You always have the option to try to make them wrong and you right — to whip out your phone and show them the texts, show them that you wrote it on the calendar on the fridge.
You can spend your time getting frustrated, annoyed and resentful as you seek to convince them that they are so wrong and they seriously effed up.
Or you can drop that struggle, you can decide that you’re done living in struggle and suffering and fighting with someone else’s version of reality that doesn’t match yours and you can focus on what you actually want, which is to leave the house in five. You can remind yourself that you get to choose what matters to you in that moment. To get out the door and on your way to social connection while it’s still warm enough to hang outside.
You can fight to be right or you can choose your own happiness: “okay, well here we are. It’s quarter of, and I’m leaving in five minutes, you can join me or not, and I’d love it if you did, but I’m rolling out in five.”
That is you focusing on you and what you actually want, versus spending your previous emotional energy making someone wrong so you can what? Feel right for a second? Feel vindicated? Feel superior or better than? Where does that actually get you, my love? Sit with that. Where does that fight get you?
Versus just choosing peace, ease, to move on in that moment, and sure, to bring the topic back up in a calm moment if it’s a chronic issue, to discuss ways you two can better communicate about plans in the future. But in that moment where your mother in law is sharing her opinion you don’t agree with, when a dude in a cafe is sharing their understanding of science that doesn’t jive with what I believe, when your partner is saying you didn’t say something and your main goal is to get out the door… do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? What do you really want in that moment?
And of course everything is different if we’re talking about an abusive relationship or one where there is gaslighting — I’m not talking about accepting being lied to or gaslit. I’m talking about fighting for someone to be wrong so you can feel right, and what you believe doing that is doing for you and your sense of self and worth and wellness in the world. Because I assure you, it’s not doing what you think it’s doing.
It’s not actually making you feel better or more loved or seen in the world — that’s an inside job my darling. Someone else saying “you’re right” won’t make you feel that way if you don’t believe that for yourself.
You get to start at home by focusing on believing in you and your worth, not by fighting to get someone else to see it.
This is not about dropping responsibility for your actions and not caring about how your actions impact others, never and not at all. Our primary dictate here is kindness, true kindness, which means taking responsibility for our actions and their impact, beyond our intentions. The point here is to get out of other people’s heads and to stop trying to change their minds. You don’t want others to try to change the way you think when you’re not asking for that.
We love to obsess about what other people think about us.
It’s an easy buffer to keep us from seeing the ways we don’t have our own backs, the ways we don’t truly value ourselves or take care of ourselves. No one knows what is right for you and your life other than you, and the longer you focus on what others think about you the less aligned you are with you. Because of course we fear that people won’t love us if they misunderstand us. But when we fight to be heard and seen in the exact light we want to be seen we’re pushing a boulder uphill, Sisyphus style versus accepting the painful truth that sometimes we are in relationship with people — be they family, lovers, friends — who are not really interested in or capable of seeing us.
In my own life, the less I fight to be understood and the more I accept that some people just don’t or can’t see me in the realness of me, the less I fight to keep those people in my life.
And sure, that means that I’ve left some relationships and that some relationships in my life have become quite surface because I’m not available to push someone to want to see me in my wholeness — does that hurt? It did a lot at one point, and it hurts less and less as I see me more and more, as I have my own back and as I step into my deep amazingness and bring in more people, invest more in people who are dedicated to seeing me the way I see me. Which can often mean kindly calling me on my bullshit, my closest friends and confidantes are amazing at that, they often tell me when I’m wrong, and they do it from kindness and love, and I’m grateful every time.
When you are deeply anchored in your passion, your excitement, your worthiness, your knowing, you can focus on what you think for and about you.
You can then choose to consider the opinions that you chose to, not just to indiscriminately borrow other people’s thoughts as though they were fact. By learning to move from your integrity and discernment, from starting, slowly but surely, day by day, to trust in you and what you want, need, think,feel and do, you can start to move away from the story that says “If other people don’t agree with me, im inherently wrong.”
The story that you need others to be wrong for you to be right, and the story that being right is more important than being happy. Because none of those stories truly serve you my darling. Truly and deeply believing in you, regardless of what others think and feel is an empowering way to live your life — with your focus where it belongs, on you and your own deeply anchored self worth.