There is no such thing as Right and Wrong

Oct 5, 2021

Mike Korman

I’m a certified coach therapist supporting and guiding those desiring more compassion and connection to themselves and in their relationships. I weave together nonviolent communication and mindfulness.

When I reflect on it, and I’ve done that A LOT, I can’t find the existence of right or wrong in our world.

Nor can I find such a thing as good or bad. 

This belief that there is such a thing as right and wrong behaviour is the major reason for conflict in relationships including in our relationship with ourselves. 

What do I mean by that – there is no such thing as right and wrong?

Let’s take an example – a child bites another child. 

It might seem very normal to say “it is wrong to bite”. It is ‘normal’ in that most people would say such a thing without thinking twice. 

But I want to present a different view. 

There are two worlds that are at play here. There is the child who bit and there is myself as the adult present (leaving the other child out for this article). 

When I say and believe “it is wrong to bite” the result is that I close my mind and my heart off to the child that did the biting, as well as to myself. 

I close myself off meaning I miss the chance of connecting with my heart and my deeper nature as a human being. 

And when I’m closed off like this what I feel is a tension in me and a sense of distance towards the person whose behaviour I’ve labelled as wrong. 

Tension and distance are the result of judging others (and ourselves) as good or bad, right or wrong. 

Most of us have more tension and distance in our relationships than we need to. 

So are you saying that it is OK to bite another child?

No. I’m not saying it’s OK and I’m not saying that it’s not OK. I’m suggesting we look at it with a different lens. 

The lens of human needs. 

With every action we take, every thought we have, everything we say there are underlying needs which we are hoping to fulfill. By needs I mean things which are important to us. Really important. Things like safety and love and being able to trust ourselves and others. Things like our freedom, equality between all humans and contributing to ours and others well-being. 

We all have these needs as humans. It is something that we all share. 

If we choose to look at our behaviour as an attempt to meet one or more of these needs then something shifts in us. 

Instead of experiencing tension and distance between us and others, we experience more of an openness towards others. 

If we were to look at the biting from the lens of needs and not from the lens of right and wrong then instead of concluding that the behaviour is wrong we would be more open and we might ask:

What is the child that bites really trying to express? What are they really in need of? 

Perhaps the child is needing the safety that comes from knowing that things that he is playing with won’t be taken from him suddenly.

Perhaps he is very upset as he has had something taken from him and he doesn’t know how to get it back. 

Perhaps he is needing to be seen and heard and he doesn’t know how to get these needs met. He’s tried being quiet and being a good boy but he notices that it’s mainly kids who make noise or bite that get noticed.

Perhaps she’s experimenting with her own independence. Wanting to feel her own body and the power she has over it. 

Perhaps she’s experimenting to see what behaviours get what responses so she can learn more about her environment and feel more comfortable in it. 

Isn’t this condoning the behaviour? And won’t it therefore lead to more of it?

The belief that we have to condemn behaviour in order to change it has created immense pain for human beings. 

Condemning behaviour creates more suffering in the world which leads to more of the same behaviour and then more condemning. 

It doesn’t work. 

We need a new model. 

That new model is to look for the needs that are always there underneath the behaviour that we find difficult. 

Look for them and acknowledge them, even just in your heart/mind. 

Because when someone bites another (and you can replace biting with any harmful action that you have been on the receiving or giving end of) they are really crying out for help. 

We help them by seeing that they are in distress and helping to understand together with them what they are really needing. This in and of itself is enormously healing to them, to us and ironically is often all that’s required to create the possibility of more harmonious behaviour being tried next time.

Questions for reflections (if you’d find them helpful)…

  • What’s something someone has done recently that you labelled good or bad or right or wrong?
  • Did that labelling create closeness towards that person for you or distance?
  • Did the labelling create an expansion in you or a contraction?
  • What needs might that person have been trying to meet?
  • To be seen/heard? To belong? To trust? To give and receive love? To find a sense of safety? To experience their freedom of choice and autonomy?
  • There is no right answer. We’re just wondering here…wondering about the other person.
  • Notice any changes in your heart area, mind, body as you do this. Are you feeling more or less open within?

Mike Korman
I’m a certified coach therapist supporting and guiding those desiring more compassion and connection to themselves and in their relationships. I weave together nonviolent communication and mindfulness.

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