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  • Jeff Brenneman

Wanna be right? Or effective?

Updated: Jan 9

It feels really good to be right, doesn’t it? I mean, you get to feel proud and sometimes indignant or superior or better than or maybe a little of all of that. For me, however, those feelings only feel good for a short time.


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At the end of the day, if I'm right and someone else is wrong, that’s pretty much all I get to be - right. And, oftentimes, alone. See, holding to that ‘I’m right and you are wrong,’ sort of mindset is pretty damaging for relationships. Maybe you end up waiting for the other person to tell you that you were right, maybe that feels like a victory. Maybe you expect the other person to apologize because you are right and they are wrong.



In a relationship, this is the opposite of Effectively, the third of the 'How' skills in Mindfulness. Something that might be effective in that ‘right and wrong’ deal might be letting go of there being a single ‘right’ and ‘wrong,’ maybe acknowledging that both people have points. Maybe paying attention to the valid pieces of each person’s stance. Yeah, I know, for some of us this is a painful proposition. Letting go of being right can feel like losing something. Once we stop fighting for being right, however, there is often a greater freedom and connectedness in having the relationship (friend, significant other, family, etc.) be stronger and the connection actually better because of paying attention to both sides.



Ok, so that’s one aspect of Effectively, and it is certainly not all of it. As a matter of fact, I started with that piece because I thought the ‘right vs effective’ thing might draw people in a little more than the rest of this. And I thought the title might pull you in as well. Now, I switch gears a little bit.


Effectively, overall, is about letting go of the things that we do (yes, all of us, some of us more so than others) that are not effective in reaching the goals we have. When I speak about goals, I’m talking about a huge range of things from big things like career, buying a house, marriage, etc. I’m also talking about potentially very small goals, like feeling happier today, or making it to an appointment or even just getting out of bed. We all have things we do that get in the way of what we really want to accomplish and those things are not effective.



For instance, I have a number of behaviors that I have done and a couple that I do currently that are not effective for achieving. One is rather mundane, and probably relatable to a number of you. I typically go to bed after 11, more often after 11:30 and then I have to get up in the morning at 6. This is not enough sleep for me. I know this. I know that it is more effective for me to go to bed earlier, and I don’t often make the effective decision in this area of my life. It pays off for me at night. I get to do things I enjoy, so it's effective right away. It's not so effective the next morning.



I’ve had many other behaviors that were ineffective that I’ve managed to leave behind and replace with much more effective behaviors. I’ve had avoidance behaviors that have kept me from maintaining relationships in the way I’d really like to (mostly emotionally or physically disappearing for periods of time) and I’ve been able to let many of those go and replace them with behaviors that are mostly me approaching relationships instead of running from them when things feel overwhelming. That is effective. Letting people in on what is going on inside me in a skillful way is effective. I don't do this with everyone, being effective means that I let people close to me in.


If you have things you are currently doing (almost all of you do) that are ineffective for achieving the goals you have, take a look at this skill. It could be exactly what you need. Remember to pair it with nonju


dgmental stance so you don’t end up judging yourself for doing something ineffective. If you do judge yourself, you will likely either end up making the situation worse or you will do nothing. In my experience, neither of those things are terribly helpful.


And, remember, this is a skill. Skills take practice to learn and they take practice to make them work well. Likely, you will be just like the rest of us and as you practice, you will not quite get there many times with the skills you are practicing. Each time you do that, you are inching close




r to the skill working for you. The other thing to remember is that you will do many things that


are effective. You do many things that are skillful, and it helps to notice those things when you do them or at the end of the day reviewing what you’ve done over that day. We get benefit from noticing the effective and helpful things we’ve done.


Have an example when you were effective that you'd like to share? Email me at jbrenneman@lifeworkstl.com, would love to hear from you.



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