How often do you play the “I’m Right, You’re Wrong Game” in your marriage? Does it leave you feeling tense and angry? Do you end up confused about how you’ll ever get back the marriage intimacy you once had? Read on and discover the three steps that will immediately help you experience less stress and greater happiness in your marriage.
One way to start being happier in your relationship is to understand what it is thats causing you to feel tense and angry in the first place. Start by listening to the things that you are saying to yourself. Most likely, every upsetting thought you have has to do with things that you “don’t want” and is focused on who’s “right” and who’s “wrong”.
Take these thoughts for example:
“They should know better than to lie to me!” (They’re wrong!)
“If they really cared about me, they wouldn’t act like that!” (They’re wrong!)
“They shouldn’t interrupt me when I’m talking!” (They’re wrong!)
Notice how each of these thoughts focuses on things that the person doesn’t want to have happenthey dont want to be lied to, they dont want to think that theyre not cared for, and they dont want to be interrupted. Whenever you focus on what you don’t want, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of playing the “Right/Wrong Game”.
So, why do we start playing the “Right/Wrong Game” in the first place? From a young age we learn that it’s very important to figure out who’s naughty and who’s nice, who’s good and who’s bad, and who’s right and who’s wrong. Adults played this game with us so that we would learn what’s considered appropriate and inappropriate behavior.
The problem with this is that, while we learn to be very good at identifying who’s right and who’s wrong and saying what we don’t want, we don’t learn the skills to identify what we do want–the things that are really important to us.
Even worse, playing this game can become a burden–a major stressor that affects your sleep, your attitude, and ultimately, your ability to have a strong intimate relationship with your partner. The “I’m Right, You’re Wrong Game” is a recipe for creating cycles of discomfort, confusion and pain. In fact, if you find yourself feeling uncomfortable thinking about the same issue more than three times, you can almost bet this cycle has begun.
Think about it. Frustration and anger cause stress. Stress affects your mood. Your mood can create problems with how you interact with the world. Interaction difficulties can lead to more frustration and anger. Unless you learn to break free, you may find yourself getting sucked down into the quicksand of this cycle.
If you find your thoughts returning to the same upsetting situation, and leave you feeling uncomfortable, tense and angry, you’re a major-league player of the “Right/Wrong Game”.
Fortunately, there is a fairly simple choice you can make about whether or not you want to continue playing this game. That choice can be summed up by this popular quote from The Course in Miracles that asks, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?
The secret for breaking free from this cycle is to learn how to quickly identify what you do want, rather than focusing on being right and on what you don’t want. When you learn to focus on what you do want, it’s possible to escape this cycle and find genuine happiness.
It takes more than just wanting to stop playing the “Right/Wrong Game” and hoping your upset will go away. It’s important to develop the skills and strategies that will make it easy to identify the cycle and stop it before it sucks you in. Just like a bad habit, “right-wrong” thinking that focuses on what you don’t want, is a pattern that can be broken with a little practice.
Here is a three-step plan that will immediately help you experience a new and more rewarding game.
Step One: Your Feelings Are Your Guidance System
We’ve talked about how the “Right/Wrong Game” causes tension and anger. There is a reason for this discomfort. Feelings of discomfort are part of your emotional guidance system. Think of them as a warning signal that something deeply important is missing from the situation. Feelings of discomfort show you that it’s time to get back on the path to the life you truly want.
Step Two: Identify What You Do Want
You can’t stop focusing on what you don’t want unless you focus on something else. So it’s important to know what it is that you do want in a particular situation. For example, if you hear yourself thinking about what it is that you don’t want–“I hate it when people lie to me!”–stop and think about why this is important to you. It probably has to do with trusting the other person. So in that situation, trust is what you do want.
Or, if you’re feeling angry and frustrated and you hear yourself thinking, “If they really cared about me they wouldn’t act like that!” then caring, belonging, and consideration are most likely the root of what is important to you. So your “do want” in this case is to experience people acting in ways that show they care about what’s important to you when they make decisions that affect you.
You need to be able to identify what’s most important to you before you can figure out how to get it.
Step Three: Take Action!
Once you’ve identified what’s important to you in the situation and what you do want, its time to make a plan. Focus on specific things that you can do or say in the situation that will create more of what you want. Avoid the trap of focusing on what you don’t want. If you want trust, do something that will create trust. If you want caring, do something that will create caring.
Even the smallest action toward your new goal is better than sitting around being angry and frustrated. Once you’re in action, you’ll find that your tension and anger will begin to dissolve! Working toward the things that you really want will free you from the counterproductive cycle created by the “Right/Wrong Game”. Taking these actions will have an immediate effect by starting you down the path towards less stress and greater happiness and much more intimacy and your marriage