I was recently talking to an acquaintance I hadn’t been in touch with for several years.

During the course of our conversation, she conveyed her extreme frustration with her current boss and her life in general. She described to me what she termed an “extreme sense of dissatisfaction” with pretty much everything in her life.

She ended the description of her current circumstances asking me this loaded question:

” I don’t need to deal with this crazy frustration anymore—no-one gets me. I just need to leave. I’m right, don’t you think?’

Her question, “I’m right, don’t you think?”,  made me think about how much energy we spend trying to be or proving to others that we are ‘right’.

What I have concluded thus far over the years working with people on growth and change, and of course by being on that same growth journey myself — is that we live in a world of contradictions and “grays”. Dealing with these contradictions is unsettling and uncomfortable to us at best, so we desperately attempt to categorize our world and the events and the people in them as being ‘black or white’. (aka “right” and “wrong”)

We spend much of our lives learning and devising belief systems and assumptions about the world in our minds, and take actions based on the structures we have spent so much energy and time creating. This gives us a way to have a semblance of control over our environment, circumstances, and even our destinies.

This framework in our minds, our “mindset”, set of paradigms, or whatever you want to call it, helps us think we are comfortable and in control. This seems all well and good until something or someone upsets this neat apple cart we have so carefully assembled and are hauling around.

As we are tousled out of our comfort zones and are challenged by rapid changes, different mindsets and perspectives, and more and more complexity all around us, our tendency is to react by becoming more indignant about our “way” or our “rightness” in order to maintain control. We have trouble separating ourselves from the situation, but instead are overtaken by protecting the existing mindset we bring to the situation.

Reframing seeing things as “right” or “wrong” but instead as differing frameworks of mind we use to make meaning out of the things around us is a first step.

It for one helps diffuse the emotional frustration that accompanies the quest to be “right”, and puts us in a less emotionally charged place from which to make choices.