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Being Right with Wrong

Are you trying to figure out how to accept something but also push it away? My friend Bob struggled recently with an issue about how to live his life partly because he didn’t wan’t to think judgmentally about people who lived their lives in a way that didn’t work for him. He knew people who lived a more traditional dream, but that wasn’t his dream. He did everything to try to avoid that kind of dream, and he couldn’t see clearly what that meant for him.

Fear of the Wrong Label

The funny part of the conversation was that he judged the label of “wrong”. I’ve found this a lot recently with some important people in my life who are struggling with judgment and boundaries. Wrong. Judgmental. These are just words that should identify our experiences not define them. We experience what happens in our lives, but what we call that experience is only to help identify it not try to make it something that it isn’t. Wrong is right when that’s what you mean, but wrong isn’t that simple.

Two Wrongs Do Make a Right

Bob felt the quick burst of insight delight when I told him there is a difference between “personal wrong” and “universal wrong”. Personal wrong is that category of “things that are not right for me”, like clothing that doesn’t fit me, colors I don’t personally like, foods that aren’t good for my body and so on. Universal wrong is the category that people tend to think of as judgmentalism. It includes things like “that religion is wrong” or “that is a bad joke” and so on. Bob suddenly awoke to this difference and realized that he could see something as wrong for him and that does not mean that it is wrong. It just isn’t right for him.

Keeping Clear of the Wrong Kind of Wrong

We should all remember that we have every right to push something away as wrong for us as long as we realize it might be perfectly fine somewhere else. It is very important to identify and clarify personal wrong from universal wrong. We do this when we say “I don’t like such and such” or “that doesn’t work for me”. The more we can embrace this for ourselves, the more we can honor this in others as well. If we realize that we can have personal wrongs, then others can have personal wrongs, too. We start hearing it in what they say when they acknowledge they don’t like something, and we can support them in that. Just remember, it’s ok for you to push something away as wrong for you, because that’s just plain boundary setting. That’s not judgmentalism.