Narcissism and confidence are both related to validation of self-esteem. Therefore, it is quite natural to get confused between a confident person and a narcissist though certain irreconcilable differences exist between the two.
Typically, narcissists make their presence strongly felt in a social gathering flaunting a glamorous appearance, flamboyant trappings, confident attitude, agreeable demeanor and clever conversation.
Narcissist behavior becomes apparent when people try to project themselves desperately sidetracking others. At a first glance, people may mistake narcissism for a quality of high self-esteem that is always responded with respect.
A confident person is a man of inner strength. His faith in his own self comes naturally and is not born out of fear. While a narcissist is plagued with a feeling of threat that someone else more capable would steal the show. It is for this latent insecurity a person feigns an outward show of superiority to bury the inner unstable self.
Why narcissists create a great first impression?
Narcissists successfully sell the image of a confident person bubbling with energy and zest for life. Their narcissistic behavior does not get noticed so much as it remains buried in the garb of high self-esteem. But do narcissists have a very high level of self-esteem?
Researchers say, no. People may associate narcissism with high levels of self-esteem but in reality, it is just the opposite. It is the inflated self-esteem of narcissists that often creates confusion with healthy confidence. Since narcissists lack an inner sense of self-worth stability, they try to cover it up through an inflated image.
The researchers could establish this fact in a study. People scoring high in narcissism and self-esteem were perceived with more self-confidence than people scoring low in narcissism and equaling in self-esteem.
By scanning the dating profiles of narcissists, researchers also observed that this inflated self-esteem posed an attraction towards females as they perceived those males as highly self-confident and not narcissists.
In reality, the perception of narcissism is highly associated with less liking. Narcissists are not liked in general. Interestingly, if the female perceivers come to know of the high score in narcissism of the “apparently confident males”, it would take no time for the liking to get reversed.
Self-esteem is a highly valued trait in society. There is no denying of the fact that narcissists are great manipulators and smartly present their self-esteem. They have a natural ability to attract people having lower self-esteem; people who wished they too could have been like the narcissist.
Although in the surface, a narcissist person may resemble a confident person owing to high levels of exhibitionism, arrogance, vanity and superiority complex, two are not the same. Self-confidence without being backed up by an intention is way different from Narcissism. The basic frame of mind is much dissimilar both in form and function.
Differentiating between a confident person and a narcissist:
Confident people are blessed with mental opulence. They like to share their mental wealth so that others might benefit from it while a narcissist suffers from mental paucity. It is the deep-built inferiority complex giving rise to an extrinsic show of dominance and haughtiness. A narcissist uses this trait as a weapon to keep at bay those with greater potential from intruding his self built territory.
1. Narcissists always dwell in an insecure zone:
A confident person believes in self-respect and is in quest of self-development and material achievement. He firmly believes his pursuits won’t deprive the world. There is enough room for others as well for growth and self-development.
He believes in a shared world where everyone can stay healthy and balanced whereas a narcissist is trained in a zero-sum game. He is in constant fear of loss of territory. Offence is the best defense against competitors for him.
Of course, no one is really racing with him for success much of it is his imagination. He apprehends if he lets others in he is out. This, in fact, is born out of profound insecurity.
2. Always at peace with own self reveals true confidence:
A confident person never feels threatened that time is running out and he should achieve all at once or someone else would beat him to the punch. On the contrary, a narcissist would easily locate flaws in other’s achievements to impair their reputation and reject their talent.
One thing to be kept in mind is narcissists are gifted with powerful articulations. The opinion they form on false premises of self-marketing can be sold to others not experienced enough to realize something obscene brewing underneath a convincingly smooth facade.
3. Accepting challenges in a healthy manner:
A confident person doesn’t consider every aspect of life they come across a matter of contest to prove their worth. They have usually nothing to prove further. They have already passed through that acid test. They don’t enjoy seeing themselves at the top of the world at the expense of other’s endeavor.
Quite incongruous to this mindset, a narcissist’s inner insecurity tempts him to project a larger than life self-image making all others look smaller. This they do by a cunning combination of wordplay, trickery and deceit.
A confident person will never gauge his merit against others capabilities. He is his own benchmark and strives for further refinement. A narcissist’s world is menaced by imaginary competition. He constantly struggles in every sphere of life to be at the helm which is really not necessary.
4. A person with true self-esteem is a value addition to the world:
His presence and actions benefit others. Whereas a narcissist fiercely desires to acquire all what is available leaving nothing for others. Contrary to the show of cooperation and humanity by a confident man, a narcissist’s world is confined to puny thoughts and selfish ends.
They feel best when they achieve something riding on others exploiting their efforts. A narcissist projects a warped and inflated picture of self-gravity. He goes into a lot of commercials for self-hype. But to a man with true self-esteem, inner peace is really what matters. He is not comfortable with advertisements.
Where is the strength of a confident person?
To his core, a confident man is secured and strong while for a narcissist it is a void down there. He tries to plug it with a lot of pretence and pseudo-intellectualism. A man with self-esteem is strong-willed. He is selective in his thoughts and words.
His emotional and social acumen is high. He is patient and can wait his turn. He is a good listener. But a narcissist is constantly driven by urgency. He wants people to listen to him and buries others opinions forcibly by his own ideas. By any means, he wants to be under the spotlight.
It is important to distinguish between healthy self-confidence and narcissism both for the perceiver and those addicted to self-esteem. While healthy confidence enhances the quality of life, extreme grandiosity can lead to anxiety, fear, vulnerability and depression.