I have often had a inner struggles with the need ‘to be right.’ I think it is one of my biggest weaknesses. When I was 16 my family bought me a sweatshirt that said,
“I’m Not Opinionated, I’m just Always Right!”
I honestly didn’t understand why they thought it was so funny. That was how very un-selfaware I was. I still really struggle with this, but now it is something I am working to correct within myself. I equate it with pride or the lack of humility or meekness.
The need ‘to be right’ is one of the biggest cancers in relationships.
I find that if I ever feel the need to justify my negative behavior that I am flat out in the wrong. It doesn’t matter what someone else has done or said, I have the ability to control my response and I do not need to respond negatively in turn. I can choose to do better than that. Inflamed communications don’t need fanning of the fire, they need quenching. I can choose to be the water that smooths things over if I am thinking and empathizing with the other person instead of thinking of myself.
The other day I was driving with my 15 year-old son who was not listening to my patient corrections about his driving. I raised my voice and then I began to berate him. I watched as he became more anxious and I felt him close off from me. I knew that I had damaged our relationship by my unkind corrections.
Now I could have easily justified myself because of the potential danger of having an accident. I did need to correct him, but it was not the correction that was the problem, it was the way I did it and the way I made him feel.
I was wrong because I made him feel bad.
I am always in the wrong, even if I am right, if I make someone feel bad.
One of the biggest problems with this kind of communication is that we cripple other people’s ability to positively act. We hurt their confidence and we put them in a place where they cannot feel the spirit.
Do I care more about my car than I do about my son’s ability to feel the spirit and to feel good about himself?
It took me about 5 minutes to suck it up and apologize for my response. (Something that has been very hard for me to do, but because I know how important it is, it is something that I have been forcing myself to do.) I told him that there was no excuse for how I had treated him. I asked for his forgiveness and then I told him how well he was doing with his driving. Then we were in a place that I could positively discuss the things he needed to focus on doing in our next driving session. I reassured him that I knew he would be able to make those changes.
We had a totally different night and totally different experience driving the next day than we would have had if I had not swallowed my pride and apologized.
As hard as to eat crow in that moment, it felt so AMAZING afterward!
I felt the spirit again, and so did he.
None of us like to be put down or simply ‘take it,’ but we need to consider our motivations and the consequences of our responses. Are we fighting because we want to be right or justified? Is our stand worth the withdrawl of the spirit? Can I say what needs to be said with the spirit, and will my words influence the person I am speaking to so they will want to change? If the spirit cannot be present and if it is not the motivation for us to speak, then we need to swallow our pride and walk away.
Shortly after we got married, my husband shared this scripture with me and told me that this was the pattern he wanted to use to raise our children.
D&C 121:43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
I have thought often on this scripture and the need to only act in sharpness if I feel the spirit prompt me to do so. If I am angry or hurt, then I cannot feel the spirit and so I should not respond this way.
I invite you to look inward at your motivations, ask God for help in changing them, and then work on those things so that you can improve your relationships. I encourage you to study the following article and share back about how putting these things into practice has improved your ability to feel the spirit and to positively influence others.