There is a condition I want to warn you all about. It’s as old as humanity – for as long as people have had a concept of answers, there’s been a concept of right answers. And as long as there’s been a concept of right answers, there’s been OneRightAnswerItis, or ORAI.
What is OneRightAnswerItis, you ask? Well, let me tell you about it!
What is OneRightAnswerItis?
ORAI is characterized by a person’s narrow, limited thinking that any problem can only have one solution, any question can only have one answer, that there is only ever one right choice. ORAI is usually accompanied by an odd lack of confidence around one’s own choices. A person suffering from ORAI will feel personally challenged or attacked whenever someone makes a different choice than they made. Even more so if the different choice was the result of significant thought, or if the different choice had a positive outcome. This is because they believe there is only one right answer, and if someone else’s choice was good or correct, it must mean that their choice was bad or wrong. ORAI seems to make a person blind to nuance, context, and the simple truth that different things work for different people.
What are the symptoms and warning signs of OneRightAnswerItis?
ORAI expresses itself through speech and behavior. A few examples would be:
Responding defensively if you decide to not do a thing that they do. “Why, is my way not good enough for you?”
Insisting that you try the things that worked for them, regardless of context, personal history, or actual need.
Confusion and denial when presented with the idea that different people have different needs with different solutions.
ORAI can also be insidious, and is rarely presented universally in any person. ORAI is very common when it comes to religious choices, yet very rare in regards to job choices. A person can be very open-minded to multiple choices when it comes to treating the flu, yet present severe ORAI when it comes to treating or helping autistic people.
I think I or a loved one might have OneRightAnswerItis!
Not to worry! ORAI is very treatable and with the right approach can be eliminated! The first step to treating ORAI is by far the most difficult – recognizing that you have it. Unfortunately, ORAI comes with firm (if oddly fragile) conviction of one’s own rightness, so it can be easy to say “oh, I don’t have ORAI, I really AM right!”
However, if you see other people making different choices than you are, and doing so with apparent forethought, consider that maybe they are also right. Consider that maybe there are actually multiple right answers.
The underlying emotional triggers to ORAI will stick around even after admitting the problem, but they are much easier to address when you recognize it. After that it’s a matter of learning to feel good about your own choices because they were right for you – not because other answers or other people are wrong or bad. Some people can find this a difficult way to think, but it is very rewarding once achieved.
Be on the lookout for OneRightAnswerItis. It can be a sneaky thing, but it is very disruptive when it takes root.