Can You Be Right When You Are Wrong?
There are times when we act in an obviously wrong way, on one level, but on another, deeper level, what we have done was absolutely right. Read this story. Not long ago I ran into my friend Annie at Peet’s Coffee. Happy to see each other, we got our cappuccinos and sat down to chat. “Remember we talked about letting go of our need to be right?” she asked me?
Of course I remember. I have written an entire book about it. The Power of the Possible is largely built on this premise. Stop trying to have the last word. Stop trying to prove your point. Let go of needing to be understood. Become understanding instead. And - keep your relationship instead of destroying it one fight at a time. “Whenever you are wrong, admit it, whenever you are right – shut up”. Boy, how I love this quote by Ogden Nash! “I had an amazing experience,” Annie tells me sipping her coffee. “The other night, I was at Jack’s place and he showed me something that was very important to him. And I immediately criticized him. I just began to correct him on everything. And I hurt his feelings. I saw that right away because he became very quiet and withdrew.
"Normally I would not have backed off. I would have continued to push. But I stopped. I remembered our conversation about giving up the need to be right, and I did something I have never done before in my life. I said ‘I need to take some time alone.’ And then I sat on his sofa with my eyes closed for 20 minutes . “I made myself relax, and I saw how inappropriate I was. How judgmental and hurtful. I didn’t like what I saw. I tired not to judge myself for it. And I felt remorse. Then I opened my eyes, and apologized to Jack. I told him that I was really sorry and I meant it.” “What did he say?” I asked. “He began to cry. He said it was the very first time in his life that a woman apologized to him and admitted that she had been wrong. (Women readers, are you paying attention?) And as he was wiping his tears he was thanking me. This was when I started crying myself. I felt so close to him, my heart just opened. “After that we just sat there for a long time holding each other’s hands and not talking. I don’t remember being so vulnerable before. It felt so good not to be right.” “He had a huge healing, didn’t he?” I said. “He did. And I did too,” Annie said. “We have gotten much closer after that.” I thought about it on my way home, and then (with Annie’s permission) I shared the story with a friend. “That’s incredible” he said. “Don’t you see? Had she not done what she did, had she not hurt him first, neither of them would have had the healing they had. “Annie gave herself a chance, for the first time, to own her mistake there and then, and to take responsibility for it.
"Instead of doing what she usually did - she paused! That was brilliant. Thus she allowed herself to calm down. And then to see herself from a distance. And it wasn’t pretty. But instead of judging herself, going into shame and pride and saying nothing, she admitted the truth. She apologized. A powerful change for her. As a result, she was able to give Jack an enormous gift. And he had his own healing.” God works in mysterious ways, I thought. The beautiful divine choreography was certainly at play there. So let me ask you this. Are our mistakes - mistakes only? Could it be that by making the mistakes, we also create that opportunities for growth and healing? And what if all we need to do in order to experience it this is sit down on the sofa, close our eyes and pause?