Always Right

If you come across my writing desk you will discover a thick grey book. It is a 2020 diary, which holds the scribbles of my COVID times. I happened to turn a few pages last night and found this interesting comment – ‘Always Right?’ It brought me an instant smile and a question, now which I shall ask you.

Have you ever met somebody who is always right?

I know at least a couple of women around me who are ‘always right.’  You might be surprised that they already know that they are right or they will eventually be. They stand their ground, and despite the best logic and the sale, they come out with flying colors. It is not once or twice, but a lifetime of incidents. So, with these people, I have been left hung to be proven wrong and to dry.

Pessimists always tend to be always right. This is not stereotyping, if you may, but just a poke at the bear. So, let us start this conversation.

This world is unfair when most conversations are about trying to prove a point and not understanding.  So, the idea is to see how the person ‘who is always right’ comes out in each scenario. Just a word of caution – this is only a situation analysis, than stereotyping.


The ‘Always Right’ person is a pessimist. They make cloak it with ‘realism’ but at the core, they are pessimists. The glass is always half-empty.  Pessimism does not give the future a chance to be right, because, in most cases, almost always, is right.

The good thing about being a pessimist is that I’m either always right or pleasantly surprised.

― Robin Ayers

The concept of pessimism comes from the fact that things won’t always happen unless proven otherwise. It sounds close to Murphy’s Law – ‘If things have to go wrong, they will be.’ Here the premise is reversed because the ends precede the means. The end – the ‘going wrong’ always predicts the means ‘process of going wrong’. So the burden of proof is on the other side – the one who is holding the ‘half full glass’ to prove that it is indeed half full. But half full means also half empty. So, the optimist, despite being right, is also wrong – because the pessimist is right.

This logic seems absurd, but it is not.  Most people see the water in the glass, but it takes the pessimist to see the empty half.  The burden is on the ‘half with water’ to prove the point to the ‘half with air’.

Pessimists are usually right and optimists are usually wrong but all the great changes have been accomplished by optimists.

― Thomas Friedman

Being a pessimist has an inherent advantage. Either one is right or one is ‘pleasantly surprised’ because success comes from optimism, but the pessimist also benefits in the process. So ‘being right’ helps in all cases.  So the pessimists have the ‘ayes’.  Aha. That is not how it is supposed to be. But that is how it is. The pessimists win – because they are always right.

There is another element related to pessimism one must consider.  Negativity. Let us explore negativity more in the underlying tone of pessimism.


Being pessimistic is one thing, being negative is another. Negativity is an expressive form of pessimism. It has many dimensions. A negative person has two specific dimensions – ‘I am so right’ and also ‘things are not right if I am not right’.  This takes the line of ‘I am OK but you are not OK.’

Negativity stems from a person who thinks he is entitled to be right and endeavors to find fault or complain when something goes wrong. These qualities – entitlement, complaining, and negativity are three sides of the same coin. Three sides – yes. You would notice the mistake, didn’t you? I told you so.

Negativity is often cloaked in realism and coated with cynicism. There are more layers to negativity than one can imagine. Cynicism is acerbic humor, however, light it is, it is like putting a drop of acid in a glass of water and then gulping it in one go. Cynicism comes from critiquing – as they say ‘Those who can, do; those who cannot, critique.’  Satire is different from cynical humor. The intent belies the truth.

Realism is the baseline for negativism. It is the pseudo-truth that the ‘always right’ person will fall back on. Pragmatism is objective, realism is laced with negativity. There is a colored prism that obscures the worldview of the person – there is no hope. Realism is a dystopian point of view. A realist will look at the opportunities of failure and how things won’t work – not to fix them, but to lay over them, and find the reason for why things will fail and won’t work.

I am sure we have all had our share of cynical critiques, and nay-sayers, and there is, almost always, a pattern that negativity-cynicism-realism come together as the three dimensions of the same person.

There is another expression that overlays the two layers of pessimism and negativity. It is the ‘I told you so’ phenomenon.

‘I told you so’

One of the exhibits of an ‘always right’ person is that they have the urge to say ‘I told you so’.  The 4-words are uttered by those who stand by the sidelines and watch. This is the worst form of criticism and the epitome of pessimism. You failed, hence I am proven right. I told you so that you will fail.  The four words act as the epitome of negativity, and result in nothing but wounds in the minds and souls of those who tried with hope and optimism.

Of all the horrid, hideous notes of woe, Sadder than owl songs or the midnight blast; is that portentous phrase, “I told you so.

– Lord Byron

There is a sadistic pleasure in being proven right and the four words express this succinctly.  Even if you are a pessimist, it is fine. But these four words will make you the ultimate villain in the mind of anybody who is looking at life and endeavors with hope and positivity. The person waits for the event to happen and mostly does not participate either as a catalyst, motivator, or coach to help the performer achieve or win. But the glow with which they gloat on being proven right is something that I would close my eyes away.

However, it is fair to admit that there is a good side to the four-letter words – like when your parents know that you would win or achieve, and they merely point it out when you come home with that trophy.

I am keeping this ‘good situation’ aside for a moment so that we can connect the dots again. We have seen that there are layers in the ‘Always right’ person, but what is the core of the thought?


There are two inner layers inside the outer layers of behavior we have seen. These are like mirrors.  A person who has lost their self-esteem suffers from insecurity.  Insecurity is the fear of the unknown in life and situations. Coupled with the self-confidence that is needed to do or make things happen, or connect with a purpose, the ‘always right’ person is in a space where life becomes an inactive mode.

If life is seen as a wall, then each event, purpose becomes a brick. We are the mason. But the wall is never perfect. That does not mean that we never build a wall. If we try to be ‘always right’, we stop building our walls, but look at others’ walls and point out the missing brick. That is the most simplistic explanation of how the ‘always right’ person would lead their life.

To err is human:

To err is human. This is true. Fallibility makes us humans – a species with emotions, bad decisions, and errors. But we know, even the Creator’s masterpieces aren’t perfect. The earth is like a couch potato and the moon has its craters. The fact that we are infallible, makes us beautiful.

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.

–Leonard Cohen

The idea is to find a purpose, work on it and try to reach a goal. Or not. Whether we chase the moon or not, we still have a life to live.  It means that one has to think and act.  The result could be imperfect, but there is an outcome indeed. A low self-esteem and insecure person would worry about the outcome, more so failure, and therefore not embark upon the journey itself.

Insecurity is what keeps the ship safe in the harbor, while it is supposed to sail the seas and brave the waves and winds. Life is no different.

The core, therefore, is the low self-esteem and insecurity that makes a person always want to be right.

The pressure of being right:

Now that we know what makes the ‘Always Right’ person want to be always right, we have to look at the life of that person.  The always right person has to be infallible, and as we have seen, no human is infallible. Considering these contradictory positions of the individual and reality, we can only surmise there is a huge pressure on the person to be something they never will be – ‘infallible.’  Such a person can never be happy.

From the pressure of being right stems unhappiness. From unhappiness stems pessimism, and the rest is self-explanatory.

Life offers a cruel choice: you can be right or happy. Not both. This is true regardless of whom you may be involved with, but it is especially true if there is an emotional vampire in your life.

―Albert J. Bernstein, Emotional Vampires: Dealing With People Who Drain You Dry

It is simple.  If we could solve the problem of low esteem and insecurity, we could lead a life of happiness.  Imperfect life, but a happy life. I think that is a fair deal, don’t you agree?

So, how can a person develop self-esteem and become open-minded and therefore, happy?

The greater good:

Focus on the greater good. The greater good is an aspirational goal that can relegate the pressure of being right to the back burner. The most important thing about the greater good is that the focus is not on the ‘righteous self’ but on the other’s benefits. Greater good behooves benevolence. Sometimes, there are situations where one has to look at acceptance and come to a compromise, meet others at half-distance, and achieve a middle ground. Great communities, organizations, countries are built on consensual and decisions.

If we find that ‘greater good’, a purpose that benefits others, and that purpose becomes our cause, we feel ‘useful’. This usefulness boosts our self-esteem. There you go.

Being good trumps being right. Search for goodness in a person. There is goodness in us all. Goodness leads to happiness.

So far, about morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after, and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.

― Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

Feeling good after a thought or a deed is what makes us purposeful and happy. Let us be good than be right.



Ashok Subramanian
Ashok Subramanian
Ashok Subramanian is a Poet and Fiction Author based in Chennai, India. Ashok has been writing blogs and content since 2011. From technology and management articles, and to website content, Ashok has written articles on businesses, finance, funding, capital markets, management, strategy, and sustainability over the years. His poems and articles, which were published in blogs got a publishing turn when he had time in hand to put together his poetry and short story collections. He publishes short stories and poetry reviews regularly in his blog. His published works so far: a) Maritime Heritage of India - Contributing Writer - b) Poetarrati Volume 1 &2: Self-published on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback; Ranked #8 in Amazon Hot Releases in May 2020. c) A City Full of Stories: A Short fiction Collection based on people and events of Mumbai: Self-published in Amazon in Kindle and Paperback. d) Poetarrati Ponder 2020 - A collection of Poem Reviews He is currently working with his creative advisor and publisher on his next poetry collection. His second short story collection about Kolkata, India, and his first novel are in the manuscript stage. He is a graduate in Engineering from Madurai Kamaraj University, India, and a post-graduate in Management from IIM Calcutta, India. He currently runs Strategic Advisory and Investment Banking companies headquartered in Bengaluru. He lives with his wife Gayathri and son Anirudh in Chennai, India.

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