Week One . . . Day Five
Of Being Right
You can be right or you can be happy
Only a fool choses unhappiness
PS . . . We are often fools
Crazy life, this one we live, often making the same missable over and over and over again.
Here’s the simple, generic version of almost all our arguments, especially with our spouse/ loved ones:
Person A: I’m right and you’re wrong
Person B: No, I’m right and you’re wrong
A: No, no, no, no. I’m right and you’re wrong.
B: No, no, no, no. I’m right and you’re wrong.
There are lots of words to “prove” the I’m right/ you’re wrong nonsense, but this is what they all boil down to.
Except, since we were children once, and scolded and shamed when we did something “wrong” (which often meant simply inconveniencing the big people by having too much fun, being too noisy, being silly…i.e happy) we got the strong and ugly message: you are bad.
So the ugly undercurrent of many arguments is this:
Person A: I am right and you are wrong and therefore, you are bad.
Person B: No, you are the bad one, since you are wrong and I am right.
And so on.
Except this is how we waste our lives.
So, hey, let’s practice letting go and the next foundational piece (Laughter) with what I call, GENERIC ARGUMENT
Letting Go Fun and Forgiveness Game #1:
Next time you are arguing, one of you say: let’s shift to the generic argument
And then do
I’m right and you’re wrong
No, I’m right and you’re wrong
Back and forth
Skip the bad part, just use a lot of conviction while saying that you are right and the other person is wrong
Combine this with smiling
And sensing your legs, and your heart and your genitals if it’s your romantic partner
See what happens
Could be learning, eh, if you notice a difference that makes a difference.
Now, we move on to one of the most important “games” in the world, in the world of letting go of being “right” and hence, unhappy.
It’s called the turn around game, and is rooted in far back history, of the New Testament, and new fangled New Age hooey.
The New Testament version is that strange one of
1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
The beam is big, right, and it’s our own faults. And the mote is that same fault in the other, not so big, but we are busy in the I’m right and you’re wrong land.
With a very specific kind of right/ wrong.
I’m we suspect/ know at the intuitive level that we are angry, we accuse the other of being angry. If we are, and everyone is, selfish, it’s a lot easier to cast the stone: You are selfish.
Which, by the way, is always true, and … besides the point.
The New Age version is: Everyone is a mirror. Whatever imperfections you see in them, are really you, shining back at you.
And here’s a couple of grand learning events from my life, tied into grand learning “games” and possibilities for you.
Wouldn’t you rather be free and happy, than right?
THE TURN AROUND: A REAL LIFE STORY
Here’s a little story about a nice “turn around” with a fourteen year old that I was certain was being the “Stupid/ bad/ selfish” one. In my stupid (and suffering) state, I was quite clear: she needed to change.
This story takes place in Sonoma, around 2000, in the summer. I’d gotten over the trauma of a gal named Sally Ann running off with a man named Joe. (See the next story: Sally Ann “should love me more” turned around. )
I’d stopped believing my thinking that she was meant to stick around and argue with me. And I had stopped believing my own thinking that no one else great would show up in my life.
And then Celeste did. A perky yoga teacher, who shared gardening and bike riding and a general love of nature with me.
We grew fonder and fonder of one another, and then couldn’t restrain ourselves to two residences. So I came to spend the night with her.
Off in a huff went Lara, her fourteen year old daughter. Her father and Celeste had been unhappy for many years and had been apart for almost a year, and that didn’t matter to her: she didn’t want her Mom living with her new guy.
There I was. The new guy. Ughh.
Off she went. In a huff. In the middle of the night. Big drama. Big show.
And she’s fourteen, right? She’s a pain in the ass, nasty to her Mom.
Which is to say: the whole usual teenage thing.
And me in all my wisdom? I decide to get all twisted about her being “selfish.”
Which I could make a great case for; after all wasn’t she throwing hissy fit after hissy fit? (I.e. acting 14).
And then a pleasant and slightly stunning light bulb went on: I was the selfish one.
When Lara threw her hissy fits, it upset her mom, Celeste.
Result? Celeste and I had less fun. Me, me, me, with less fun. Poor me!
This upset MY selfish wish to have great times, all the time, with Celeste.
I was a hypocrite (this has been discovered since, many times) and that was funny and a relief. She was selfish. I was selfish. So be it.
And guess what? Once my mind got clear, our relationship got clear. Like this:
One day she was over visiting us and I decided to tell her my discovery about me being the “selfish” one.
What teenager doesn’t want to hear an adult admit that they are an ass?
She lightened up and when I left to go to a garden I was caring for, she shouted out after me, “Goodbye, Selfish Chris.”
We were friends ever after, including some very interesting times when Celeste and I had amicably decided to part and Celeste super quickly found the husband that was just right for her.
This is such a common occurrence that there is a folk phrase: WHEN I STICK OUT ONE FINGER IN ACCUSATION, THREE FINGERS ARE POINTING BACK AT ME.
Turn Around Game/ Exercise #2:
Being free instead of Right.
One finger out, three back.
Think of someone you’ve got a nice juicy one word condemnation for. Selfish. Lazy. Avoidant. Whatever.
Be accusative: point your hand, one finger out at some imaginary them. Let yourself be all crunched in and tight breathed when you believe this story.
Stand straighter. Wiggle your body a little. Look at some nature if you can. And then….
JUMP to a new spot, and pick one of the fingers that is pointing toward you. Smile and discover one way, this is you, too. If so and so is mean or selfish or inconsiderate, find one way that you are.
Alas, and then…
JUMP to another freedom spot, and pick another finger pointing back toward you. Smile, breathe deeply and find one more way this is you.
Alas, three fingers pointing back. JUMP a third time, and feel the third finger pointing back and find, alas, one more way this is YOU TOO. Yep. YOU TOO.
You and the other: imperfect humans. Damn! or, Goody!
Now make sure you did that.
It’s not something we usually like to do.
It’s something we are very glad, once we’ve done it.
And … and the eating crow part, the admitting our own flaw part, is usually not popular.
Then it can be quite humorous.
Or life changing.
Sally Ann and I had been together for four or five years.
This is 1997-8 and things are disintegrating fast.
We had a lot in common, and for the last year we’d been arguing a lot. I was wondering and journalling about how much longer I could stick it out.
Then she decided for me: she spent more and more time with Joe.
He was actually a pretty good guy. He just wasn’t me.
Being a jerk and acting out of my wounded heart instead of my real heart, I jump full throttle into the I’m right/ you’re wrong game.
I started to slam her for wasting her time with Joe. (Instead of sticking around so we could argue about all the things we usually argued about, and now, we could argue about why she was wasting time with Joe, who was new and adored her, when she could be around me, telling her how bad and deceitful she was to be hanging out with him.)
I got more jealous.
I sad more harsh and stupid things.
She went more and more away.
(PS, the best way to get rid of someone who’s leaving you is to be mean and judgmental about their “sin” of wanting a new and better life. Works almost every time.)
And then she was gone.
I didn’t take it well.
The usual anger plus self-pity, plus looking for allies to see “my side” to the story.
Oh, well. We almost always are when we act out of our wounded heart.
And then, not too long after she left I discovered something called the work of Byron Katie.
Katie is a woman who “woke up,” from ten years or more of alcoholism and chain smoking and obesity and yelling at her family.
She had this blessed moment of grace, of laying on the floor in a halfway house, feeling unworthy of even laying on a bed, and a cockroach crawled across your ankle.
She had, as she calls it, “a moment of clarity.”
All the old thoughts she’d believed and identified with, they all dissolved. She was just left alive and with an open mind.
And her suffering was over.
And she fell back into the “I am right” suffering, occasionally when she’d have a thought at war with reality: like, “My mother should have been more kind.”
She then would plummet, which for her must have been a huge fall from her complete freedom and bliss of not believing her thinking.
And, being in reality, she noticed that difference, that huge difference, one of the most significant differences we can notice in life: when I believe my thinking I suffer. Without my thinking, either by having no thinking or by not believing my thinking, I am free.
She invented a system to free herself and many others from the curse/ misery/ suffering of believing our thoughts. I’s called “the work of Byron Katie.” (You can see and “do” it at http://thework.com ).
A brief synopsis of this simple and yet powerful work is:
Judge your Neighbor
Write it down
Ask four questions
Turn it around.
We’ll come to the four questions later.
For now, we are going to exult in the pathway of discovering the beam in our own eye, vs the goldarned mote in the other’s eye.
To wit: TURN IT AROUND.
Which means what we’ve said: So and so is a liar. I’m a liar. So and so should be more kind. I should be more kind.
And with Sally Ann and Joe?
Sally Ann should love me more.
This, when I believed it made me the sad, sad, mad, mad victim.
And what of a turn around?
I should love Sally Ann more.
After all, fighting or no fighting, I actually did love her. (This is why breakups break you up: you love the other person, but are just caught in patterns where it’s impossible to let this out).
So, at first it was just words: “I should love Sally Ann more.”
And then it struck me: I SHOULD/ COULD love Sally Ann more.
Which meant, being happy for her that she was happy with Joe.
This seemed intellectually impossibly, but once my heart went there, it was as if a dam burst: I was free to really be happy for her, to be glad that she was getting what she wanted.
Life was so much easier with loving her for what she’d chosen.
This wasn’t about me.
This was about her.
With the wonderful upside:
I was free.
And could be happy again.
Interestingly enough, this is almost always true: whomever we lament as not loving us enough, we can always love them more.
They might be total rats, and we have to stay away from them, and yet still: we can love them more.
This is good news.
Turn Around/ Freedom, I’m not right and you’re not wrong Game/ Exercise #3:
Pick someone in your life.
Even your husband or your wife.
Feel the part of you that feels: they should love me more.
Then, stand up, jump around a bit, find a pleasant spot on which to stand, as usual, preferably looking outside, and try out this possibility:
“I could love this person more.”
Enjoy discovering a couple or many ways.
Notice the difference: what does that do for your happiness and freedom?
What difference does this make in your ease around this person?
What difference does this make in you, not having the be Mr/ Mrs/ Miss Perfect any more?
What difference does this make in being more happy and joyous in life?
Enjoy your days, and day, and all the turn around days from now on.