How to let go of the need to be right

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Kevin Mangelschots

The most important thing to understand to learn how to let go of the need to be right is that it’s impossible to be correct all the time.

Being human inherently means being imperfect. As a consequence, we can’t always be accurate, since we’re bound to be incorrect eventually. No matter how intelligent and perceptive we might be.

It’s also incredibly annoying to argue with someone who thinks they’re always right, and never wrong. These are my tips to let go of the need to be right.

How do you let go of the need to be right?

The quote, “let go or be dragged” written on a background wherein we see a man being dragged along by an air balloon.

  1. Acknowledge that it’s not possible to be correct all the time

    It’s simply not feasible to be right all the time. No matter how smart and experienced you might be, life’s too short to know it all. Not to mention that we’re not perfect, and only human in the end.

    That’s why you will make mistakes, and why you will be in the wrong at times. That’s precisely why you need to realize and accept that you’re bound to make errors, and that it’s no shame to fail as long as you learn and improve from your faults.

  2. Don’t try to be right all the time

    Don’t try to be right just for the sake of winning the argument, or because you’re trying to prove yourself to others, or to feel better.

    That just makes you come off as insecure, or someone who’s suffering from a superiority complex since you’re unable to cope with the simple fact that you’re flawed, just like everyone else in this universe.

    As such, you must let go of your desire to be correct all the time.

  3. You can’t “force” other people to accept your truth

    The quote, “your truth and my truth may not be the same” written in white letters on a black background.

    Even if you are factually correct, that still doesn’t give you the right to force others into accepting your ideas. That would simply mean you’re a tyrant who doesn’t place any value on the right for individual thought and ideas.

    Sure, I think it’s a good thing to aim at the truth and to make an informed decision to make the best choice with the information available to you.

    But you can’t coerce those around you to seek out empirical evidence and objective truth, even if it would be beneficial for them in the end. People have the freedom to choose, and we should respect that right.

  4. Mind your own business

    Don’t waste your time trying to convince others of your truth. This will most likely not work, or they might just agree with you for the sake of getting rid of your whining, or to resolve the uncomfortable argument.

    You might feel like you’ve won, but most of the time, this simply isn’t true. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t try to make your point by making a strong case for your idea by staving it with facts and data.

    But understand that you can’t convince others through force. You can show someone the way, but they must walk the path for themselves. And if they’re not willing to, then there’s nothing you can do.

  5. Strive for improvement, not perfection

    The quote, “strive for progress, not perfection” written on a track and field background.

    You shouldn’t strive for perfection since that’s a utopia that nobody can realistically attain. But improvement is well within every single individual’s grasp if we’re willing to put in the time and effort.

    That’s why you should aim to get better, to make better decisions, and to be accurate more often. However, never confuse all those things with the ability to be correct all the time.

  6. Don’t impress or please other people

    You should do what you genuinely think is right instead of trying to impress or please others due to insecurity, or because of a superiority complex.

    Nobody is impressed by someone who wins a discussion because they want to be in charge and the one who is right all the time. I’m more impressed when someone is humble enough to accept points of view that differ from theirs, or when they can admit their mistake(s).

  7. Don’t blame and shame others

    The quote, “you can make mistakes, but you aren't a failure until you start blaming others for those mistakes” written in black letters on a grey background.

    Don’t blame others when they have a different perspective than you do, and don’t try to shame others into accepting your ideas as the truth.

    Being unable to accept that people think differently than you and that you might just be wrong regarding certain matters just reeks of insecurity. People don’t like being coerced into submission, which is basically what you’re doing when you want people to accept your truth.

  8. Practice forgiveness

    Forgive others when they hold on to a false premise, and cut yourself some slack as well when you notice that you held on to a false belief for longer than you should’ve.

    Again, nobody is perfect, and so mistakes are part of the course. But admitting, and forgiving yourself when you fail is what’s required to grow, and to let go of the need to be right.

  9. Try to reframe negative habits into positive ones

    Desiring to be the one who’s correct all the time is a negative habit because it’s unrealistic, and doesn’t lead to any growth.

    Wanting to improve, and trying to make better decisions since you have a more accurate view of the world can only be encouraged.

  10. Accept that you can’t be in control all the time

    The quote, “stop overthinking. You can't control everything. Just let it be” written in black letters.

    The only person we’re in control of is ourselves. We can show others the way, but we can’t force them to accept our ideas, even if they’re 100% true.

    Since we can’t control what others are thinking, or what beliefs they hold, the only option we’re left with is to accept that everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

  11. Only try to control things when possible and when it’s positive to do so

    Controlling things is good, but trying to manipulate every little thing to a fault is impossible and will lead to anxiety and insecurity.

    The one you should try to master is yourself and your mind. What others do and think is their issue that they need to figure out themselves.

    Guiding others is fine, but that’s about the only thing we can do. You can only help people who want to be helped.

  12. Apologize when in the wrong

    “Sorry” with a smiling emoticon written in blue on a yellow notepad that's lying on a table.

    Learn to apologize when noticing you were wrong. This shows a humble and mature personality which is something that attracts other people since it is considered a redeemable traits.

    If you’re unable to acknowledge when you’re wrong, then there’s no capacity for growth. If you think you’re always correct, then what’s the incentive to learn anything new since going by that logic, you already know everything there’s to know?

  13. Practice acceptance and thankfulness

    Accept that you and everyone else in this world is unique. As such, everyone will have their own beliefs shaped by their own experiences.

    That’s why we should accept that we all have our different ideas and notions, all the while being thankful that we’re not all the same. What a boring and uneventful world that would be, without any possibility for growth since everyone would think, and consequently, act the same.

  14. Take the time to get in touch with your thoughts and feelings

    The quote, “accept how you feel but don't let your feelings rule you. You are in control” written in white on a grey background.

    Reflecting on your thoughts and feelings allows us to understand ourselves better, and consequently, other people as well.

    We can’t fix something when we don’t realize it’s broken. That’s why recognizing when we tend to try to win every argument to be right constantly is such a powerful tool before we can learn to let go.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the need to be right?

The meaning of “the need to be right” is hidden in the phrase itself. It means that one has to be accurate, regardless of whether they are truly correct or not.
 
It’s a phenomenon that’s mostly present in people suffering from insecurity, fear, and doubt. That’s because these people regularly and desperately try to mask their insecurities and imperfections.
 
The other possible reason for that behavior is that they truly believe they know best all the time, which indicates a superiority complex. It’s pure arrogance to think that you’re never wrong.
 

Why do I always have to be right?

Illustration of a man scratching their head while holding a yellow question mark.

The psychology behind someone who always has to be right is that they’re probably suffering from insecurity since it’s impossible to be correct all the time.

It’s common for people to try to hide their insecurities or sense of superiority over others by the narcissistic tendency of always trying to be right. They’re constantly trying to prove others wrong to prove they’re right. In reality, they’re trying to mask their imperfections.

On the flip side, it’s also a possibility that some folks truly feel better than their peers. As a result, they feel the need to be right all the time because, in their mind, they know best. They leave no room for the possibility that others might know better and that they can be wrong at times.

What personality type thinks that they’re always right?

Illustration of a cloud of words of what personality entails.

The personality type that thinks they’re always right is the type that’s argumentative, overconfident, and arrogant. That’s because they overrate themselves and their abilities, unable to see their imperfections and limitations.

Another personality type that is likely to feel the need to be right is the insecure individual. They do so to overcompensate for their imperfections and personal doubts.

The difference is that they don’t always think they’re right, but are trying to win the argument anyway to prove themselves worthy of the praise and attention of others.

How do you argue with someone who thinks they are always right?

The quote, “Never argue with stupid people. They will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” By Mark Twain.

It’s impossible to argue with someone who always thinks they’re right. Especially when they won’t listen to reason, truth, or empirical facts.

There are times when you can make people understand the error of their ways. But someone who truly thinks they’re always in the right is unlikely to see their faults.

That’s exactly why you shouldn’t even try to debate with someone who never thinks they’re wrong. There’s nothing to be gained from such a discussion except negative emotions such as annoyance, and even anger in some instances.

What do you call a person who thinks they are always right?

A person who thinks they are always right can be called many things, such as:

  • Narcissistic
  • Adamant
  • Insistent
  • Dictatorial
  • Unshakable
  • Indomitable
  • Unrelenting
  • Intransigent

What they are for sure is overconfident in addition to being arrogant, since it’s impossible to always be correct. That’s why all the above can be considered synonyms too.

Why do I feel the need to be right in a relationship?

You can feel the need to be right all the time in a relationship because you’re insecure, trying to control your partner, or because you feel superior to them.

This behavior will lead to severe issues. Especially when the problem is left unchecked and allowed to grow larger over time because your partner is afraid to address this concern with you.

A relationship is a partnership. And that’s why you both have to work together, with both your unique strengths and weaknesses, to make it work, and to balance things out. Since everyone has their talents, it’s out of the question to never be wrong.

Final note

Image of a notepad with a pen lying on top of it with the word “conclusion” written in front of it.

Someone who thinks they are always right, and everyone else is wrong, is toxic and not the kind of person you want to be around.

Not to mention that it’s incorrect by default since humans are imperfect, and thus we all make mistakes as a result.

Realizing if you’re always trying to be right, and that it’s impossible to do so, is the first step to fix this toxic behavior. That’s why introspection is such a critical and beneficial tool to solve our issues.