6 toxic traits people often mistake for confidence

At a subconscious level, we tend to view confidence as attractive because a confident
person showcases competency, which can lead to a feeling of security.

And isn’t that the point of life? To avoid death as much as possible, to feel safe, and to thrive in
this ever-changing world?

But what if that confidence is a lie? What if a person who seems confident from the get-go is
actually toxic or detrimental? Can confidence turn from attractive into a turn-off?

In this article, I will reveal the six toxic traits that are frequently mistaken for confidence, so you
can start seeing people for who they truly are!

1. Putting others down

Anyone who bullies or undermines other people is often the most insecure. Shrinking the world
around them is their attempt to elevate themselves. And by making others feel small, they feel

They appear confident, yes, and that is because they try to be. But there is nothing confident
about finding joy in constantly highlighting other people’s shortcomings instead of helping them
grow or find self-acceptance. There is nothing confident about people questioning their
self-worth and doubting their abilities.

This behavior is negative and creates a toxic environment not just for the people involved but for
everyone who witnesses it. A truly confident person supports others’ growth and does not feel
the need to diminish their light just to shine.

2. Refusing help or support

Sadly, I think this is more common than we think. I have seen women, housewives in particular,
go through this on a daily basis. They always try to be the strong ones and refuse to be
supported because they have been convinced that what they do is not a “real job”, so they don’t
realize the actual impact of their hard work and sacrifices.

My mother would often say, “Being strong (and thus confident) is the least I can do,” because
everyone else seems to have it worse. Similarly, men have been conditioned to embody toxic
masculinity by constantly keeping it together, never showing any weakness, and pretending they
are invincible.

In reality, vulnerability is an important part of one’s personal growth. It’s a must in any healthy
relationship because when you allow yourself to be supported, you are letting go of pride and
truly letting people in.

3. Ignoring feedback

I hate to break it to you, but you cannot “fake it ‘til you make it” forever. There are days when you
just have to confront the situation for what it truly is, accept constructive criticism, and learn
from your mistakes. This also includes apologizing and admitting your faults when you are in
the wrong.

But there are people who believe otherwise. They think that by not acknowledging the feedback,
they can continue to appear smarter and more confident. They think that refusing to say sorry
can help them appear innocent. But this is just stubbornness disguised as confidence.

True confidence involves your willingness to be a student of life, and that means always being
open to seeing your own shortcomings, being humble, and constantly improving yourself.

4. Having a sense of superiority complex

Someone with a superiority complex is often arrogant and dismissive toward others. And they
are hard to miss! These kinds of people will always make their presence known by coming up
with something to fight about, being loud while belittling others, or arguing over differing
opinions. They carry themselves with full confidence, believing that they are the main characters
in everyone’s stories.

But a genuinely confident person knows that the world does not revolve around them. They
know they can stand out even in silence because their unique energy, gifts, and personalities will
do the talking. Most importantly, they have empathy and prioritize kindness in every given

5. Boasting about achievements

For the record, there is nothing wrong with being proud of one’s accomplishments. In fact, we
love to see people win and find inspiration in knowing we can achieve the same!

But if a person constantly feels the need for self-promotion, it might come across as
attention-seeking. This can be toxic because this kind of person finds a way to insert their
achievements into every conversation, fishing for compliments and approval from friends and

I used to know people who were emotionally starved as children and grew up in a home where
they were always compared with siblings. They turned out to be successful, competitive, yet
burnt-out adults who constantly felt the need to overcompensate. This toxic trait is often rooted
in deep insecurity, so they crave validation to feel loved and accepted.

Genuine confidence means feeling secure in who you are and what you are capable of. It is
being content with where you are in life while silently working towards your goals.

6. Being “brutally honest”

Some of us have been brought up in an environment where you are not allowed to openly speak
your mind. So beating around the bush and avoiding difficult conversations are “peaceful”
resolutions to a problem. On the other hand, there are those who lack the communication skills
to express their thoughts in a healthy way, so they often think out loud and say what’s on their
mind without regard for others.

The phrases “but I am just being honest” or “the truth really hurts” are often used as an excuse
to be rude. But honesty does not necessarily require brutality. Careless bluntness is a toxic trait,
not confidence.

Honesty is important, but a truly confident person knows how to deliver a message with tact and
empathy. True confidence is being honest without breaking a person’s spirit.

Confidence is different for different people

The best way to spot the difference between genuine confidence and toxic behavior is to be
self-aware. When you interact with someone who displays these toxic traits, take note of how you feel around them. Are you uplifted and inspired, or do you feel drained and diminished? The answers to these questions can guide your perceptions and decisions.

Furthermore, keep in mind that genuine confidence is not about dominating or overshadowing others, but rather about feeling secure in oneself without needing external validation. Truly confident people uplift those around them, radiate positivity, and are self-assured without being arrogant.

Additionally, self-reflection is key. Take the time to reflect on your own behavior and attitudes. Have you ever displayed any of these toxic traits? Remember, it’s never too late to change, grow, and embrace true confidence. Surround yourself with individuals who exhibit genuine confidence, as they can serve as positive role models and inspire you to foster genuine self-assurance.

In conclusion, while confidence is undoubtedly attractive, it’s essential to differentiate between authentic self-assurance and toxic behavior. By recognizing these distinctions, we can foster healthier relationships and nurture an environment that celebrates genuine confidence over mere bravado.

Picture of Clifton Kopp

Clifton Kopp

Welcome to my writings on Ideapod! I'm a bit of a "polymath" in that I like writing about many different things. Often I'm learning from the process of writing. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment on one of my articles.

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