I grew up in a household where my parents would sometimes fight. At times it was the usual screaming and yelling, others it was more knock-down-drag-out but fighting just the same. My aunt used to ask my mother why she fought so hard with my dad and she answered something I will never forget. She said, “I would rather be right than be President!” It took me years to understand this comment. I have since learned that in our society:
Although it’s damaging, we’ve become addicted to the need to be right. When we insist on being right we lose the ability to be serene.
When we know we’re right, we cannot be open to the possibility of other ideas and belief systems. Emotional maturity comes from training ourselves to respond rather than react. It takes practice, time, and discipline but is possible to delay the amount of time between stimulus and response. Here is a great tool to help train ourselves to pause before responding.
The Buddha taught (The Removal of Distracting Thoughts) that there are ways to dispel negativity.
(For more information visit http://enlight.lib.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-AN/an87586.pdf)
First – replace the thought with a more positive one that is compassionate and peaceful.
Second – contemplate why the thought is negative. Then one can understand what the consequence of acting on the negative thought will be.
Third – the Buddha is all about mindfulness but in this case encourages creating a distraction from the negative thought so one won’t react to it.
Fourth – question your thinking. Inventory the root of the thoughts which disturb and come up with the reason you are disturbed. I have to do this in writing but it is possible to do within a meditative contemplation.
Fifth – You can decide to let it go by agreeing to pause until you have more information. This can be a serenity saver.
My parents are still married and sometimes still fight. My mother would have had more years of being serene if she had asked herself this question:
Would I rather be right or would I like to be free?
When I am willing to pause before I respond, I break free from the chains that keep me bound. I don’t have to get caught up in negativity and can do the exercises which will give me emotional freedom.