At War with a Self-Righteous Mind

The Need to Be Right

A short time ago, I became involved in a war. It was not my intention, and I was not even aware of the fact until it was too late and I was embroiled in an interminable war of words. Yes, I was on the sharp end of a war with the owner of a self-righteous mind, and thanks to the Internet, the parries and thrusts of the fight were transmitted instantly between us.

By innocently stating my personal experiences, and then replying to what I thought was a genuine interest, coupled with a request for more information, I had inadvertently set on fire the sanctimonious fervour of this person who then felt that it was his duty to defend his viewpoint against any and all negative remarks (whether real or imagined), and to tenaciously fight till the bitter end to prove himself “right”. It would serve no purpose to mention the name of the person involved, as my only intention is to focus attention on this mode of behaviour and to highlight its inherent dangers.

Now, this war of words could well have gone on until the end of time. It was quite certain that my adversary would never back down, would never listen to anything I said, and would never admit to any error of understanding or judgment on his part. His sole interest was in winning the argument, and he would use any and all means at his disposal to do so. For my adversary, I was quite simply “wrong”. There was no compromise either sought or accepted. He was right, I was wrong. So what was to be done?

Telling someone “you are wrong” is inflammatory. However, telling someone, “I have a different experience” is entirely different and completely non aggressive.

We all have a right to express our opinions, especially when they are backed up by direct personal experience. To deny an individual the right to his own personal experiences and the conclusions that he draws from them, is to hinder his personal growth. It is the mark of an overbearing parent, who wants to tell the child how he should think, feel, and act because the parent has already had the experience himself, and therefore “knows best”. The parent may call this being protective; others would call it personality assassination.


Kahlil Gibran - A Noble Mind

It has been said that:

“Words do not teach, experience teaches.”

You can tell a child a hundred times not to put his hand in the fire, but he only has to make the experience once of his hand being burned, and he learns.

This extract from “Children” by Kahlil Gibran puts it far better than I can:

You may give them your love but not your thoughts

For they have their own thoughts

You may house their bodies but not their souls

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow

Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you


This comes from a noble mind that recognises the sovereignty of each individual and his right to his own experiences and his own conclusions. Kahlil Gibran is writing about children, but most of what he says is equally applicable to adults.

Self-righteousness is probably the most pernicious problem that the world faces today, be it religious or patriotic. Needing to be “right”, and unable to tolerate a different point of view, or even worse, launching a crusade to snuff out any conflicting beliefs, can have only one consequence. War. And this is where I found myself; at war with the owner of a self-righteous mind. And yes, I am aware that it takes two to tango, and that I do have a combative side to my nature too. I am also aware that we had been attracted to each other and sucked into this fight because in this respect, we are the same. Like attracts like.

However, in the interests of peace, and the future of this planet and its future generations, we all need to cultivate our compassion and understanding towards our fellow human beings. Just think what a difference it would make in the world if we could all drop our need to be right.

Instead of “I am right, you are wrong”, how about “I don’t agree, but I can understand how you could feel that way”. We are now entering the realm of non violent communication and it is here that we may foster mutual understanding, and even eventually, mutual trust, a foundation for authentic relationships.


Courtesy of http://thinkingshop.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/rightwrong.jpg
Courtesy of http://thinkingshop.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/rightwrong.jpg

Ego Versus Higher Mind

Needing to be right is a characteristic of the ego, of our lower mind. Some other aspects of the lower mind are: jealousy, pettiness, greed, selfishness, competitiveness, vanity, spitefulness, separation, hate, and there are many more.

However, we also have access to a higher mind. The characteristics of our higher mind are generosity, forgiveness, compassion, selflessness, love, peace, joy, cooperation, unity, understanding, and there are many more. Do you see and feel the difference between the two? Which do you think Kahlil Gibran was accessing when he wrote his famous poem?

Now, do you think it is possible that we could let go of our entrenched points of view, and instead access our higher mind, and use it to embrace the concept of humanity?

We can fight until we are grey and old. We can go to our graves still insisting that we were right, and still fuming and incensed at the outrageous insults and hurts inflicted upon us. We can let our anger simmer away inside of us until it poisons our very existence, and the lives of those around us.

Or. We can simply, “let go” of our need to be right.

The French have an expression for this: “lacher-prise” and it is one of the tests that we are presented with on the path of our individual spiritual growth.

To let go of the need to be right, can be difficult, as the ego needs to constantly reaffirm itself, its identity. Being wrong, it feels diminished, and somehow “less” than before.

But the ego is never satisfied, always wanting more. So winning this particular war will not satisfy the ego for long. It will soon be off in search of other battles to fight to reaffirm, once again, how “right” it is, and how “wrong” anyone else is who does not agree.

So, to my Internet adversary, the message is:

“I don’t agree with you, but I hear you, and I can understand how you could feel as you do”. Now I decide to “let go”.

If you want to feel that you are “right” and that you have “won”, then go ahead. If that is what you think, then there can be little rest for you, for you will soon be once again mired in more battles of the self-righteous mind, as you will always find someone to fight with.

Until, one day, hopefully soon, you might realize that you don’t want to fight the world any more, that there is another way, and you too may say “I let go of the need to be right”. Then you will no longer be an adversary, and can start to become an ally, and even a friend.

END

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Comments 24 comments

maggs224 profile image

maggs224 3 years ago from Sunny Spain

Being right is often greatly overrated, they are not my words, but they are words that I can agree with.

I liked your list characteristics of the higher mind, and like you point out so well, we get to choose which frame of mind to operate in. I think that I will plump the higher mind with you, because I enjoy the company there, not so keen on the self righteous :D


Caesar 3 years ago

wise, wise words . .


Sylvie Jacobs 5 years ago

Self Righteous mind? Realise that wherever you are in the mind = you are not real to what is here as the physical reality. Mind is never real.

Sylvie


sannyasinman profile image

sannyasinman 5 years ago Author

LateBloomer - yes you are right. It is said that the faults we see in others are simply those parts of ourselves that we have refused to acknowledge, accept, and love.


LateBloomer profile image

LateBloomer 5 years ago

Thank you, very enlightening. I'm one who used to often pointed out others faults until I saw the same faults within me. Your article helps me to see potential problems within myself.


sannyasinman profile image

sannyasinman 6 years ago Author

DF - thanks for your comments on the article. Yes I feel better, but I have noticed that the person in question is still picking fights. Ah well, one day . . .


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 6 years ago from Great Britain

Wonderful article , the whole world should take notice of it. I hope you feel better within yourself since 'letting go.'


sannyasinman profile image

sannyasinman 6 years ago Author

The Rope and dentist83 - thanks for your comments. Much appreciated.


dentist83 profile image

dentist83 6 years ago

What a great mind! Excellent and refreshing article.


The Rope profile image

The Rope 6 years ago from SE US

Another absolutely brilliant article. Thank you for your ability - and willingness - to relay such poignant material.


The Rope profile image

The Rope 6 years ago from SE US

Another absolutely brilliant article. Thank you for your ability - and willingness - to relay such poignant material.


sannyasinman profile image

sannyasinman 6 years ago Author

Hovalis - thank you for your comment. It's encouraging to know that you share these views.


Hovalis profile image

Hovalis 6 years ago from Australia

Brilliant article! You are so right, the need to be right can hold us back from all kinds of possiblities. Thanks for writing this article. :-)


sannyasinman profile image

sannyasinman 6 years ago Author

Misha - thanks for the comment - much appreciated.


Misha profile image

Misha 6 years ago from DC Area

If I was not your fan already, I would become one on the spot :)


sannyasinman profile image

sannyasinman 6 years ago Author

TG and Wyanjen, thanks for your comments - really appreciated.


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan

I'm glad you put it back up, I was wanting to read it.

:)

You did a great job with it.


Terence Gray profile image

Terence Gray 6 years ago from London, UK

Great hub... a wisdom shines through filled with truthfulness! Well done! TG


Flightkeeper profile image

Flightkeeper 6 years ago from The East Coast

Yep, I can be accused of having a self-righteous mind but usually reality thwacks me in the head and then I snap out of it...usually.


HOOWANTSTONO profile image

HOOWANTSTONO 6 years ago

Kahlil Gibran was one I read many years ago, but I found a more significant.

Jesus Christ

" For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven."

Go well


sannyasinman profile image

sannyasinman 6 years ago Author

wyanjen - yes, the hub was posted once before but I removed it and have reworked it slightly. Yes, we do seem to be on the same page you and I (is that our souls nodding in agreement?) :-)


sannyasinman profile image

sannyasinman 6 years ago Author

itakins - wow! Thank you for your comment (bows low).


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan

I've been on the lookout for this one LOL

Very nice!

I have not heard of Kahlil Gibran before now.

The house of tomorrow, that we cannot visit... that is a beautiful concept.

Our egos must have shared many of the same experiences. (This is my non-aggressive way of saying that I agree with you) ;-)

Thanks for the hub, I've read it through twice.

Peace

Jen


itakins profile image

itakins 6 years ago from Irl

sannyasinman,

This is a brilliant,articulate,and(gently)passionate article.I agree 100% with all you say.

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