Character disturbance exists along a spectrum. (See also: The Character Disturbance Spectrum) And disturbed characters vary in both type and degree. Many relationship partners have learned this the hard way. They might have known from the beginning that something wasn’t quite right with their significant other. Perhaps they even recognized the trait in their partner’s character that bothered them. But they still might have been in the dark about just how just disturbed they were. Experience would have to teach them that.
Healthy Versus Narcissistic Confidence
Confidence is a personality attribute. And generally speaking, it serves a person well to have confidence. But a person can also be too confident. They can unhealthily overestimate their talents and abilities.
Narcissistic individuals have an inflated sense of self. And many times, this is not because underneath it all they struggle with insecurity. They can not only overvalue who they are but also overestimate what they can do. They can engage in unbridled fantasy. Their imagination can exceed all reasonable boundaries. As one famous researcher once put it, full-blown narcissists are “legends in their own minds.” They can be so unrealistic that reality itself becomes relative to them. Or, as others have said, for them “thinking something is so makes it so.” That’s when confidence transforms from a positive personality trait to a sign of disturbed character.
A Sad Tale of Overconfidence
A woman I’ll give the name “Sally” was just positive she was on to something big. She’d been to only one of the young entrepreneurial company’s “ground floor” meetings. But she just knew she’d found the very opportunity she needed to scale the heights. She’d heard criticism this outfit was just another “pyramid scheme.” But she saw only the opportunity of a lifetime. And she had confidence. She was confident in her ability to sell, to organize, and to build. All she needed was the support of her husband “Joe.” She would need both his financial and emotional support but just to get things started. After that she would make it on her own. She had confidence that in the end she would not only make a name for herself but also build an empire.
Joe willingly gave his support. After all, he wanted nothing more than for Sally to succeed. He surrendered the entire modest family inheritance he’d recently received. He regarded it as an “investment.” And he gave his time and sweat, too. But he grew increasingly weary over time. And when things repeatedly didn’t pan out as planned, he got tired of Sally insisting she just needed more time. He got tired of her always blaming him for not providing enough moral and financial support. Somehow, Sally’s failures to make her dream a reality always ended up being his fault. She couldn’t possibly have simply made an error in judgment. And she couldn’t possibly have been duped by an outfit that knew just how to seduce the grandiose and ambitious. To Joe that seemed clearly the reality. But it was also a reality Sally refused to accept.
Character and Confidence
Sally’s business eventually failed. And she squarely blamed Joe. She even divorced him in her anger over things. Sally’s the kind who never admits defeat. That would be a sign of weakness. And if there are two things Sally really values about her character, they would be confidence and strength.
Now, how we regard ourselves and our personal power reflects our character integrity. Healthy characters don’t discount themselves. But they also don’t overrate themselves. They have a healthy sense of balance about what’s truly belongs to them and what derives from a “higher power.” They have trust and confidence. But they don’t place either solely on their own greatness. And they have the humility to acknowledge and reckon with their mistakes and failures. Such humble reckoning enables one to learn life’s most important lessons.
Character Matters may or may not be live this Sunday, May 14, 2017 at 7 pm EDT. That date is Mother’s Day. But you’ll hear me announce at the beginning of the program whether the show is live and I can take your calls at (501) 258-8326).
As always, thanks for recommending this blog and my books to others.