Letting Go of the Need to Be Right

If you’re new to this site Start Here to answer the question, “Why Let Go?”

See if you can relate to this:

“About that, I’m right damn it! Don’t question me. I know what I know is true and I wouldn’t be standing here if it weren’t for the fact that I’m right.”

Let’s for a moment sink into how that felt. Read the quote above over again and find the sensations in your body. If you want to make it even more real pick something from your life that fits with the words.

It doesn’t matter who or what we connect to this, we can all relate to feeling this way. This is the feeling of pride.

Now let me ask you this question.

“Would you rather be happy or right?”

I love this powerful question! When I ask it of myself the letting go is often instantaneous. Of course I want to be happy! Why then is being pridefully right so difficult to let go? Let’s explore the emotion of pride and our cultural expressions around it.

Pride is a a tricky shape-shifter masquerading as goodness and beauty.  It can feel pretty good too in contrast to other feelings like guilt and apathy. With pride we sense an increase in power and mistakenly think we’ve arrived at a better place. It can feel so invigorating to be right.  Yet in using pride we disconnect ourselves from noticing the overall negative and draining effects it has on our mind body spirit. We fool ourselves into believing that our righteousness protects us. So we cling to our opinions about everything. We become indignant about so many things. We blame and point fingers at “the enemy” and it feels so right.

“Pride is said to be the last vice a good man gets clear of.”  

~ Benjamin Franklin

I want to create some further awareness of pride but before I do, I need to share a distinction.

Pride has two sides to it. There is the positive uplifting aspects of pride. Pride in one’s accomplishments not taken too far and connected to gratitude can be very positive. A sense of pride in one’s country, ethnicity and even sexual orientation can be heart-warming and paradoxically inclusive of other countries, cultures and diversities. These forms of pride are healthy and there are many others. One of the difficulties to recognizing the negative forms of pride is that our post-modern culture encourages and rewards it. I felt it might be helpful to present some examples of how the draining form of pride appears in our daily life.

Do-Gooderism ~ which is actually a need to have power and control over others.

Do-Gooderism sounds like this: “I know what’s best for you better than you do yourself”. It’s helping when you’ve not been asked. This is emotional escapism in the form of pride. If you are a do-gooder always “helping” others, ask yourself, “what am I not willing to face inside myself?”. “What am I escaping from that I don’t want to deal with?”  Often it’s suppressed guilt. Someone who has let go of all their suppressed and repressed guilt stops going around “fixing” others. Helping others can be a beautiful and rewarding human experience. Be sure to create awareness and to honestly check the intention behind the helping.

Glamour ~ fixating on the external presentation of the body and the ego. Vanity.

It is the drama queen, the reality TV show, ego against ego. Glamour says, “I’m more beautiful, more interesting, more intelligent, more cunning, more creative, more spiritual, more informed than you or anyone else”. In short, “I am more”.

Beauty is uplifting, universal and comes from Grace by contrast the effects of glamour are deflating, disconnecting and stem from pride.

One form of glamour is found in the over adorning and embellishing of the body. I’m sorry to say that could mean your tattoos and piercings. With most everything it’s not the event or product of the event but the intention behind it that tells you if it has a negative or positive effect on you or others. Let’s use tattoos as an example. From my childhood, I recall seeing those dark blue anchors typically on the arms of older men. When I inquired, the response always had a resonance of honour at being connected to others from that time in the sailor’s life. I remember sensing the “fondness” to something around those tattoos. The same feeling arose for me when a teenage friend responded to my inquiry of his tattoo. He shared it was his family symbol from Japan.  A small and simple but beautiful red flower enclosed in a circle. The intention behind this tattoo felt beautiful.  He was honouring his family. Often a person will use tattoo as a form of expressing who they are and a story goes along with each tattoo. Clues to the energy behind the tattoo can be found in the story and of course the choice of image. If you discover your tattoo came from less than honourable intentions you can let go on the feelings it provokes. Maybe you’ll have it removed or the letting go healing will trigger a new and loving story.

art by Ella Montgomery

Glamour is also found in new ageism.   The sensationalism of psychics, mediums, and connecting with spirits and angels as a form of entertainment.

             On a personal note, real spiritual work  is rarely peaceful (to begin with).  It can be hair-raising, debilitating and down right chaotic at times.  I remember declaring my life’s intention was to be unconditionally loving to everyone and including myself.  Next thing I knew the most unloveable qualities in me came pouring out!  All manner of unappealing individuals came out of the wood work, zombie style demanding my attention and making my life a living crazy hell.  For what felt like forever I heaved through this.  Only recently have I felt light enough to tap into my authenticity and to share some of my journey with others.  So my message to you is – Don’t give up!  It gets better.  

Another example of pride manifesting as glamour is found in the compulsive behaviours of over exercising and radical diets. To enjoy one’s body and lovingly care for it is one of the gifts of being human. Over-developing the body, however, with the intention to put it on display otherwise known as “posing” is an obvious form of pride. If you are a poser ask yourself, “what is this really about for me?” and practice letting go of the emotions that arise. If you’ve taken the joy out of eating by following a hyper controlled diet or diet based on your version of how messed up the world is, look deeply at how this makes you feel. Do you feel happy eating that way or right?”.

Having a “Holier Than Thou” Attitude ~ exclusivity through radical religionist views.

This is an elitist stance and stems from the unconscious fear of not knowing. It is also a desire to be special and set apart typically on a pedestal. “Holier Than Thou” pride sounds like this: “We will show you the way for we hold the secrets that have been kept from you and for which you have been searching.” (presumably outside yourself). Cults are an example of this form of pride. Beware anyone who says there are secret levels and truth costs money. Followers are led to believe that truth is something you “get” outside of yourself typically from some lauded guru sitting on some throne and holding a special magic key to the information you need to be happy.  The great mystics and teachers all encouraged us to seek inner truth. Socrates said, “Know Thyself” Shakespeare wrote, “To thine own self be true” while the Buddha encouraged us to, “let go all attachments” and Jesus Christ taught that, “The Kingdom of Heaven is Within”. If you catch yourself, chequebook in hand, about to enter the “secret realm” please stop, go back to your car and let go. And let go all the way home.

To distinguish in yourself between healthy and draining forms of pride here’s a suggestion. Create awareness by tuning into the feelings connected to the thoughts and behaviour. Negative pride has signature feelings. It starts with that righteous energy where you are literally puffed up. Watch how you shift from being angry to being right which incidentally feels more powerful.  It feels like expansion as if you were wildly falling in love with the idea. However, this is the nasty trick of pride.

As I feel this energy rising in me, I interrupt it, silence the mind and use it as a trigger to let go.

Let’s conclude our time together by letting go with some lovely silence and going into our body with life giving breath.