The Book of Right

Occasionally in my consulting work people tell me they have a strong sense of right and wrong. I reply most everyone does: it is just that each of our ‘senses’ of right and wrong is somewhat different. One woman told me her co-workers were disrespectful (her judgment), and shouldn’t do certain things (in her opinion), and should do their job (as she defined proper employee behaviour). I saw how her expectations framed her view of the world.

As the Buddha said: All unhappiness comes from unmet expectations. We each have expectations, and recognizing them is a key life skill. With this recent consulting client, when she would share an opinion, I would reply: “Is that from The Book of Right?” It became a joke. Each of us is reading from The Book of Right yet where does our sense of right and wrong come from?

Many years ago I learned a model of human behavior. Think of it like a doughnut with outer crust, inner filling, and a centre. The outside crust is our actions and words, the things we say and do.  Choosing what to say and do is driven by our feelings, the inner filling. Where those feelings come from is driven by our centre or core: our beliefs, our values, and our needs.  Change comes from the core, not the outer crust. The people who were doing things wrong, in my client’s opinion, acted based on their core beliefs, reading from their Book of Right.

Cloaking ourselves with the expression ‘I have a strong sense of right and wrong’ excludes other people and judges them as possessing poor decision-making skills, or lacking in moral virtues. If we recognized a strong sense of right and wrong is often our opinion, and others may have another preference or style, then we can open up a more productive discussion, in my opinion ;-). I am not talking here about illegal, mean, or harmful behaviour as acceptable; I am focused on differing methods or styles. For example, my process is to pay my property taxes on the day I receive the bill, and you pay it on the due date. Is one method wrong?

Situations become complicated when we realize that sometimes our message, what we say, does not agree with what we do. Have you ever told people you were going to start a fitness program and didn’t?  Or a savings program? Or eat more green vegetables? Long ago I decided it is hard enough for me to change myself, so changing other people is out of the question. I will present opinions or I will share ideas, and then my part in the interaction is over.  Now it is your turn.  As Byron Katie said: It is not your job to understand me, it is mine.

Just so I am clear, I am speaking here about preferences.  I am not talking about people promising they will let your dog out while you are away for a day, and not showing up.  That is intolerable.  Commitments are different from one’s expectations of how something is done right.

If you want to see an excellent 8 minute presentation on expectations, here is the link.

This week a friend called me outlining trouble with a relative. I told my friend she is perfect and whole exactly as she is, and her feelings of being criticized were legitimate. Her relative was looking for her “flaws.” Many people are not conscious of the toxic load of expectations they dump on to others. I am grateful to a book called ‘The Sedona Method’ for showing me how to identify my feelings, pause, and then choose what to do with them. If we look to find the good in someone, we have less time for the negative. Who likes to be corrected? Who wants to be someone else’s continuous improvement project?  Who feels enriched by another’s criticism?

Becoming conscious of what is driving your thoughts, words and deeds is a step in understanding why you do (or don’t do) what you do. You could start by examining the things in your life that repeatedly give you trouble. You may be surprised to discover it is not the world that is reading from The Book of Wrong, it’s just you may want to add a few new chapters in your version of The Book of Right.

That is what’s on my mind today, what do you think?

Victoria Ryce

avatarAuthor Bio ~ RycePapers (124 Posts)

I am a former stockbroker, banker, international corporate trainer, and community shared agriculture worker. Have a Master's Degree in Human Systems Intervention (people and change). A big recycler, dog lover, reader, author of two books and yoga chick. Widowed and living in the country. Grow my own tomatoes and garlic to make salsa. Yummy.

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15 Responses to “The Book of Right”

  1. Well done, Victoria. I value your tremendous capacity to synthesize ideas!

  2. avatar Lovin' the West Coast Says:
    June 4, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Wow, once again, Victoria, your writing has intrigued and inspired me. I will spend my day thinking about your blog and pondering your ideas. Thank you, thank you, thank you for returning!

  3. What a thoughtful, meaty post to chew on! I feel like a blob of clay (as usual), in need of moulding…

    While reading your post, I was able to identify (again) the strong core I have…and my ongoing challenge to, as you say, continue to do my own business re: character development and allow others to work their own out.

    I know I’m getting better…but where me and others “touch” each other…oiy…the messy art takes place. Maybe that’s why perfecting a more hermit lifestyle appeals to me so much. I’m thin skinned… :(

    Over time, I have been able to discern that a default for humans is to see ourselves as the center of the universe – as little gods – because that’s the universe we really do live in: the kingdom between our ears!

    Yet the natural tendency, then, is to value our own sense of the world…and attempt to mould other people into our image. I KNOW the Image Form I want to emulate…and theirs isn’t it! Yet, my blind side is that, I can count on the fact that others are feeling the same pressures to conform to my thinking, from me.

    What a juicy start to the day, Victoria. You tackled a quarter-pounder today :)

  4. Wow. I’m glad I didn’t watch the video until after my last comment. It was a sucker punch!


    • avatar Victoria R Says:
      June 11, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      Rose, wowie, your reply gave me something to wrestle with. I love the phrase ‘the messy art’.

  5. This is a powerful message. I read it quickly early this morning before heading off to yoga but I needed to come back and read more carefully and watch the video (WOW!) this afternoon. There’s a lot to think about. I certainly have a strong sense of right and wrong but the wrong part tends to be connected to the illegal, dishonest, violent or nasty. I now need to look at preferences connection. Thank you.

    • avatar Victoria R Says:
      June 11, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      Rae, it is my pleasure to offer up these thoughts. Thanks for being such a loyal reader and responder.

  6. Great Post! I have shared it on Facebook because I know so many need to read this just so that they can think about how to view the world.

    • avatar Victoria R Says:
      June 11, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      Meagan, gosh, thanks for sharing this on Facebook. Ideas are wonderful because the more we share them, the more each of us can share.

  7. Loved this article! Insightful, gentle, loving and clear. A great combination! Thanks so much.

  8. Great blog – gave me pause for thought. I am still thinking about it….still thinking…..I will be thinking about this for some time. This is why I know it is a good article.

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