When you’re right and everyone else is wrong, what kind of relationship do you have with that judgmental and righteous part of yourself?
Some people may not know or acknowledge that you’re right, but you’re convinced of it.
On the outside you may have a calibration issue in terms of how much of your righteousness to share and express with the world. You can behave in a more humble way and keep those thoughts to yourself. Or you can promote your viewpoint and let people have their reactions.
But here I invite you to focus on your inner relationship with your righteousness. How do you relate to this part of you on the inside?
What is it like to believe that you’re right about something when large numbers of people are wrong about it?
While you could be succumbing to delusion, let’s simplify this and say for the moment that you actually have good reason to believe that you’re right. Suppose that the facts make sense. Suppose you’re a lot more educated about this topic than most.
How do you feel about these issues?
- Sharing your true feelings openly and shamelessly
- Being labeled as righteous, judgmental, or morally superior by other people
- Potentially being proven wrong someday
- Potentially being proven even more right someday
- Having people unfriend you because they don’t agree with you
- Acting in alignment with what you believe
- Relating to people who feel the same as you and have come to similar conclusions but have chosen to hide their views and keep quiet about it
These aspects can all affect your relationship with this part of yourself. It’s not that difficult to end up with a strained relationship that makes you sometimes want to turn your back on truth, to keep quiet when you really ought to speak up, and to tolerate misalignments in your life that you could actually correct.
Here’s how many people might honestly assess their relationship with their righteous and judgmental side:
This points to a conflict between being right and having to deal with people who think the opposite. The facts may be on your side, but what if the social support isn’t there? That by itself isn’t a huge problem, but it may seem like one if you have a shaky relationship with the righteous part of you.
How do you actually want this relationship to be? How about:
Do you want to suppress the righteous part of you? Give it a voice?
If you’re not clear about what kind of relationship you’d like to have here, you may end up doing an awkward dance, sometimes expressing yourself and sometimes hiding, depending on which way the social winds are blowing.
A Committed Relationship
Since this part of you isn’t going away anytime soon, you’re sort of stuck with it. So it may be wise to accept that you’re already in a long-term relationship with this part of you. Could you improve this relationship? What kind of relationship would give you better results?
Would you prefer to keep going the way you’re going? Do you want to keep doing the awkward dance? Is long-term suppression the right way to go?
If you’re right and a lot of other people think you’re wrong, what are you going to do? What you actually decide depends on how you relate to this part of yourself.
You have a lot of flexibility in how you choose to relate to this part of yourself. There’s something very powerful that happens when you make a real decision about where to take this relationship though.
For me some big shifts happened when I decided to relate to this part of me on the basis of trust. Initially, that was really difficult though.
One of the first big decisions was when I started having doubts about the religious ideas I was taught growing up. I was a teenager starting to wake up to other ideas of life. But I was immersed in a very contained way of seeing the world with 12 years in a row of Catholic school. My teachers, classmates, friends, and family were all Catholic. To disagree with my religion meant disagreeing with everyone I connected with each day on a pretty fundamental level. It was sure to be an isolating path with no support from anyone. Questioning and doubting what I was taught wasn’t acceptable behavior.
So how could I relate to this part of me when I felt I was right and everyone around me was wrong? I was just a teenager. But it grew harder and harder to keep pretending that I agreed with ideas that didn’t make sense to me. I saw those ideas as unreasonable and false. I saw obvious contradictions, misalignments, and bullshit while people suggested filling in the gaps with “faith,” which really means ignorance.
At first, I did the awkward dance. I extended myself a little by raising some issues. I probed here and there. I took a step forward and then backed off and surrendered when I ran into staunch resistance. I tried to preserve the peace while also aligning with the truth.
I went through a wide range of emotions, including sadness and a sense of loss but also optimism about a new way of thinking. It was isolating though. No one in my life supported or encouraged me on this path.
Eventually, I realized that I had to trust my own reason. I had to trust the part of me that felt that it had a stronger grasp on truth than most. I had to trust the very part of me that others would label as righteous, judgmental, arrogant, or lacking in humility. At the time that part of me could also be labeled evil, sinful, blasphemous, deviant, heretical, destructive, and all around anti-goodness. Nobody praised me for thinking for myself.
I saw the trap of self-doubt though. If I told myself that the world around me must be smarter than me, and I must be the deluded one, where was I supposed to take that? That seemed like an obvious dead-end. I’d only feel worse about the situation year after year.
So I stepped into trust, which at the time meant taking the evil exit. I let myself be the bad guy in everyone’s mind – the ultimate betrayer of all goodness. I stopped doubting myself. I stopped pretending. I let other people have their reactions. I accepted the aloneness of it.
That was 32 years ago, and I’ve been ex-Catholic ever since. I shudder to think what my life would be like if I didn’t choose to trust this part of myself. It was one of my best decisions ever – so very freeing.
How you relate to this part of yourself is a choice. You can trust it. You can suppress it. You can do an awkward dance with it.
What I like about trust is that it creates more internal harmony. It lets me act in the direction of what I think is correct. This attracts new experiences, which leads to more learning and more insights. It also attracts new people, which leads to more aligned friendships with co-explorers on similar journeys.
A big concern was that trusting this part of myself would lead to being too alone. There were short phases of that, but they didn’t last. Being more trusting of myself always flowed into more high-trust human relationships too. I wish I’d known that from the beginning.
The Benefits of a Healthy Inner Relationship
It makes sense that you’ll have a better life if you trust yourself when you strongly believe you’re right about something while lots of other people think you’re wrong. This includes trusting your reasoning, trusting your senses, trusting your intuition, trusting your feelings, and also trusting your ability to explore and adapt.
It doesn’t mean that you have to be 100% right all the time. It does mean that you’ll grow faster by leaning towards trust than you will by flailing around in self-doubt.
You don’t have to immediately bet the farm on self-trust. You can still probe and test to gather more intel. I often use 30-day challenges to do this. They’re like fact-finding missions.
A few years ago I researched fasting, for instance. I learned more about it than most people would ever want to know, mostly by reading about the experiences of people who’d done it. Then in 2016 I tested it for myself by doing a 17-day water fast, which went fine. In 2017 I did a 40-day water fast, sharing daily videos as I went. It wasn’t that difficult physically. It would have been a lot more difficult if I couldn’t bring myself to trust what I learned about it.
Because I learned such a powerful lesson when I was younger, I’ve had a relatively empowering relationship with this part of myself ever since. I learned to trust my own judgment when I felt I was right, even when I was the only one I knew who seemed to feel that way.
This helped me go vegan when none of my friends or family were vegan. Next month I’ll hit 24 years of a continuous vegan diet and lifestyle.
This helped me earn two college degrees in three semesters when I didn’t know of anyone else doing that.
This helped me start my computer games business right after college.
This helped me move from L.A. to Las Vegas, which has been a surprisingly good city for my home base.
This helped me get into blogging in 2004 and develop a successful business around it before most people even knew what blogging was.
This helped me explore an open relationship lifestyle (and not have to hide it from anyone).
This helped me shift my business model multiple times, including dumping a six-figure advertising income stream that didn’t feel aligned to me. I trusted those feelings, and I trusted that I could come up with more aligned revenue streams. This led to doing workshops, creating courses, and launching Conscious Growth Club – all way better than suckling the ads for another decade.
This helped me purge Trump supporters from my life and business. I trust my assessment that a person must be some kind of asshole or idiot to support Trump and his nonsense. I also trust the feelings of nausea that arise when I’m around such people. (This has been a great decision by the way, including openly sharing these thoughts and feelings.)
The more I trust my own judgment, the less I tolerate the clutter and nonsense of other people’s ignorance in my life. But then I also have to step into more action in the direction of what I believe is right.
If you let yourself wallow in self-doubt, might you be doing that to delay the bigger challenge of acting in alignment with truth?
Taking Action on Your Righteousness
A healthy relationship with your righteous self can empower you to take more action. With more action, you gain experience and wisdom. With inaction, you gain nothing.
Here’s the thing: You’re right about a great many things that you probably aren’t acting on.
You see opportunities, and you’re right about them. But then you talk yourself out of action.
You see misalignments in your life that you could correct. But then you let the status quo continue, even though the status quo isn’t working for you.
You feel misaligned with a job or a relationship, but you don’t act on those feelings, so you stay stuck.
You see people posting deplorable misinformation that could lead more people astray, and you pretend it’s okay by telling yourself that you want to keep the peace.
What if you finally trusted the part of you that knows you’re right? What if you stopped labeling it like other people do – as arrogant, judgmental, etc? What if you just labeled it as honest?
What if you could just say now and then: Fuck it! I’m right, and those people are wrong. I’m going to trust myself and act on this. If it turns out that I’m wrong, I can live with that, but I’m not wrong about this. I can’t keep pretending anymore. I have to let myself be judged for what I know to be true.
A great question to ask here is: Where is the path with a heart?
The path with a heart is the path of courage. It’s also the path of trust.
When you’re right, let yourself be righteous. Being righteous when you’re right is honest and truth-aligned. But even when you’re right, it still takes courage to act. That’s an invitation too – to develop a stronger and more intimate relationship with courage, which is inextricably linked with your relationship with truth.
Article was originally written by Steve Pavlina from Conscious Growth. Steve studies what it means to grow and how we can deliberately invite, process, and integrate new growth experiences.