Proving Other Wrong

QA137 QUESTION: I was thinking about asking a question and I wanted to ask this question simply. And there was a subtle little voice in me saying No. Maybe this is then the question that I would put ultimately – what is the significance of this No? Every time I want to do something, there seems to be a little voice saying No. Whenever I want to say what I want, there is this answer No. Maybe you could link this up with some of the recent recognitions I’ve made concerning the separation from my mother.

ANSWER: You already know, through your findings, through your recognitions, that you have to prove your mother wrong in order to be right, in order to have value, in order to be a man. Now, part and parcel of this need is an attitude of defiance and passive resistance, an attitude that says, “I will show you; by my own difficulties and unhappiness and unfulfillment, I make you more wrong.”

So whenever there comes something constructive, the need to prove her wrong manifests in defeating your own advantages, whether it is something creative or pleasurable. You can only prove her sufficiently wrong if you sufficiently suffer. Or if not suffer, at least are prevented from full life experience.

This is very hard to find in your inner life on that level of your psyche. It takes a long time and a great deal of insight for human beings to find – that is why it is a wonderful thing that many of my friends have come to this point when they really encounter how they refuse serious living. Because in one sense or another, they choose to devote their lives – more than an argument – to an issue that is really not important for them, namely, of proving one’s self right and the other person wrong, for instance, in this respect.

And almost everything is put into the service of it, so that even the most constructive manifestations are somehow halted and influenced and diverted by this need – the need to defy, the need to prove, the need to triumph over – even at the expense of one’s own fulfillment and one’s own most deeply cherished goals, and the goals that would give a productive life.

So your No is always saying, in a way you can extend when you hear this voice – and you will soon be able to determine this quite obviously, the vindictive righteousness towards your mother that is embedded in there – “I say No in order to prove you at fault, in order to make you responsible, and in order to make you come around finally.”

That is your inner life aim. Everybody has such inner life aims. They have to be discovered, those inner life aims of self-defeatism – in order to prove something, in order to defeat someone else, in order to force an issue. Everybody has it, each in their own ways. There are many variations possible.

When man discovers this level and is completely aware of the exact aim that he pursues inwardly and how he does it and what he sacrifices for it, and how futile and tragic the sacrifice is, he will then come to the point when the inner decision will be made, when he will finally say, “I give up this aim; I no longer want any part of it.” And that is the moment when he begins to really live, not only constructively, but when he lives in earnest, and when he lives in integrity.

For these aims are always, as I indicated at the beginning, dishonest, in one way or another. One’s own suffering is so often a dishonesty. The proving of one’s suffering is just as dishonest as the need to prove the other person wrong: with one it may be more the emphasis on the one; with other people the emphasis may be more on the other. But all that has to be found.

There is not a single human being who does not somewhere, somehow, and to some extent, have something like that where he deliberately – although he chooses no longer to know this deliberateness about it – but when he nevertheless deliberately does something that serves the worst interests to life, to himself and to others. For it cannot be good for one and bad for the other.

It must be either good for everyone concerned or bad for everyone concerned. For the mere joy – joy, of course, I say facetiously, for it is no real joy, it is a bitter joy indeed – of proving something, of defeating someone, of punishing someone, even if the self has to be punished as well!

There are very subtle ways in which this can be done. It can be done in such a hidden way. But I implore you, my friends, find all your various ways in which you are doing this. And to the extent you do that, you can then see why you are doing it. For there are more reasons than just the hate and the anger and the insistence to get the other person, to get the parent who has deprived you – imaginarily or really, whatever the case may be – to make that parent come around.

There is also that basic fear of life that makes you clutter up your life with needless and useless destructiveness. It is the fear of being in the flow of life, entrusting yourself into that flow of life, and your hidden desire to avoid this flow of life.

So you desperately long for what being in the flow of life will bring you, while at the same time you deliberately do everything in your power to make it impossible to receive what you consciously yearn for.

Now, to come back to what I said about you – this is very much the case. Of course there is a vicious circle involved. For if your basic unconscious – but nevertheless real – major preoccupation is to prove your mother wrong and to force her to come around to you – at the expense of sabotaging the best in you – you cannot like yourself or believe in yourself.

The lack of self-confidence and the dim view one holds about the ultimate in oneself, is always based on the unconscious, dishonest aim you pursue. Therefore you are in a vicious circle. Since the major preoccupation is the dishonest and vindictive aim, you cannot like yourself. If you cannot like yourself, you cannot trust yourself. If you cannot trust yourself, you cannot let go and follow and unite that inner stream of your innermost being with the life force.

When this is not possible, you must fear life, because you fear yourself. You fear that very dishonest aim in you in which you invest everything.

Now of course, I speak to everyone now. That is the basic, fundamental vicious circle in this respect, which can only be broken when you are quite aware of the vindictive aim and the way you have chosen to go about it, which might even be to make yourself worse than you are, in some cases – how you punish others by diminishing yourself in an exaggerated way.

When you are disconnected from this facet in you, when you no longer know that this is the case, you then are puzzled and confused. Some of you, as you for instance, have found this. It is a tremendously important step.

This little lull will become a very loud voice if you cultivate hearing it. The louder and clearer it becomes, the more of it that you can translate and see the aim behind it, the easier it will be to finally give up this aim in that inner decision, in that inner transformation, that inner reorientation, when you no longer want any part of it – when you realize you do not need this, because it cannot give you or anybody else anything that is any satisfaction.

The satisfaction you derive by punishing and proving wrong is very, very shallow and does not remotely stand in relationship to the satisfactions of living without this aim. Do you understand?

QUESTION: Yes, there is just one point that I’m not quite clear about. And that is, how would I make my mother come around by making myself unsuccessful or unhappy or through suffering. I don’t see exactly how this connects.

ANSWER: Well, you see, consciously, of course, there is one area in you where you want to prove to her how superior you are. But that is only on one level. You may prove intellectual superiority, but emotional unhappiness is something quite different. Isn’t it conceivable that you can prove to her she’s wrong, on the one hand, by your intellectual superiority, by your intellectual knowledge, and at the same time be emotionally a very unfulfilled and unhappy person?

QUESTION: Of course, I can be, but how would that help me to bring her around?

ANSWER: You feel, irrationally, to put it in the very oversimplified language of a childish psyche, “You see, you’re wrong and I’m right, because you made me unhappy. It is your fault that I am unhappy.”

QUESTION: I see.

ANSWER: You see? Then you make her sorry. If you’re unhappy enough and tragic enough and serious enough and joyless enough and dry enough, the mother would then think, “Well, maybe I did it.” And that is your aim.

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