Right or Happy?
There is an old saying, “If you want it done right, do it yourself”.
For many years, I lived by this saying. I was particular about how I liked things done, complete with instructions. And I had disapproving thoughts about anything that deviated from what I believed to be the “right” way.
On one hand, it’s part of my character and having an opinion isn’t wrong.
On the other hand, when I impressed my opinion upon others so emphatically, problems arose. I believed that I knew what was best. I didn’t realize that I was stripping my loved ones of their individuality, bit by bit.
That’s hard to write, but it’s true.
My thoughts about being right meant that, by default, any other way was “wrong”.
Sometimes, it made sense to hold onto a job. Like with the laundry, for example, after one too many shrunken sweaters. (It gets expensive!)
Yet I noticed my “right and wrong” thinking about a lot of things that weren’t so high-stakes: like wiping counters, and vacuuming, and folding laundry, and sweeping floors.
Finally I realized: A swept floor beats an unswept floor any day. If someone wants to grab a broom and dustpan, why would I stop them?
Can you relate to this?
Do you feel the need to be in control over people, surroundings, and outcomes?
If so, then you know how this story ends.
A high need for control plus reluctance to delegate equals a feeling of physical overwork and mental exhaustion. This led to more anxiety, stress, and unhappiness.
Byron Kate cautions, “Internal war makes external war.” And that has been my experience.
My need to be right and in control created an unintended strain in my relationships. Strain instead of love and connection. Hurt and alienation instead of trust.
Ironically enough, this was exactly what I’d vowed NOT to create.
You see, I know firsthand from my own childhood how damaging it can be when a family member has a strong need to be right. A lot of anger and hurt feelings ensue.
So why would I recreate that dynamic?
For the same reason that you may have: Because I wanted to feel safe.
It turns out that seeking control from the outside-in is almost always an attempt to feel safe.
But if you’ve ever tried this, then you know that control only ever offers a fleeting sense of safety and order. When something goes “wrong” on the outside, things feel fluttery and anxious again on the inside.
So instead of controlling everything externally, we need to work from the inside-out.
Personally, I needed to feel safe inside myself first before I could just “let things go”.
When I learned to befriend myself with judgment-free kindness, I found that I could extend that same openness, gentleness, and understanding to others. All of my relationships improved!
If letting go of control is tough for you, I empathize.
Here are a few of the practices I’ve adopted that support me on the journey to greater self-acceptance. If you want to feel less anxiety, and release the need to be right, I recommend …
✔ Nourishing your body with nutritious foods that are specific to your biology. (This keeps your energy strong and your mental clarity sharp.)
✔ Moving your body every day. (It’s okay to be less rigid about what you do and enjoy exercising!)
✔ Getting enough sleep, consistently, and having a bedtime routine to help unwind. (This has reduced the number of nights I go to bed with a racing mind.)
✔ Listening when your body tells you that it’s overwhelmed. (I used to fight my anxious mind. Now I befriend it, using it as an indicator for when I need to slow down and check-in with myself.)
✔ Noticing your thoughts and feelings and accepting them … and giving yourself full permission to take care of yourself.
✔ Meditating! If you feel resistant to this, I understand. I stubbornly avoided meditation for years, telling myself that I could “get by” without it, even though I suffered inside.
The good news is that even if you believe that you are “bad at” meditation, you can still reap the benefits. For an anxious mind, it is non-negotiable.
Here’s what I know now: I had happiness backward. It never comes from controlling my surroundings.
It starts from within.
When I let go of the need to be right, what remains is a sense of contentment, connection, and compassion toward myself and others.
It’s the essence of happiness.
So now I can say, ‘Yes, please fold the clothes. I could use the help!’ I’m able to graciously receive these gifts.
That’s how you know that you’re making progress: If you’re able to receive from others and allow some support into your life.
It’s the powerful change from, “I’ll just do it myself” to, “Let’s do this together.”
With you on the journey,
P.S.- Do you struggle with the need to be right? Do you want more joy and ease in your life? I help overwhelmed, stressed out perfectionists to quiet their inner critic and step into their most joy-filled, meaningful work.
P.P.S.-You’re invited to sit down with me (virtually) and tell me your story. I will listen wholeheartedly. We’ll talk through what you want and what’s keeping you stuck.
This 30-45 minutes alone can be a gamechanger! (At the end, we’ll talk about whether coaching with me is a fit for you – no pressure. Sound good?
Reply under CONTACT with “tell me more” and we’ll set it up!