The difference between narcissism and self-confidence

Check out Sam Vaknin (you can get there via melove54, top of the page – link to YouTube video – or go to YouTube), self-proclaimed narcissist. Jees! That’s my husband! Well, not literally – I was not married to Sam Vaknin but the characteristics of him and my abusive ex are identical: the portrayal of grandiosity beyond reality, need to come across as perfect, constant tetchiness about the immediate environment, focus on self – yikes! Painful to watch. Then we get to see his poor wife! OMG! That’s me! Having to always look up to him, make him the focus, do his deeds, pretend like you have a say in the matter when the reality is you don’t!

It got me thinking about my relationship and how difficult it was for me, when I began to realise I was trapped in an abusive relationship, to garner support from anyone within our circle of friends, acquaintances and family. The problem was, because he was so accomplished at putting on this play, this facade, creating a great self-image, no-one saw or experienced him as I did. What they saw was what he wanted them to see: this brave, courageous and charming persona – so when I started to complain, the response I got was less than supportive. Most of them tried to make out that there was something wrong with me – there must be; that I was complaining about this ‘great’ man whom I was “lucky” to be with (yes, believe me, some people even said that to me!!). I understand now that there is a vast difference between narcissism and self-confidence. Here’s my take on it: 

  • Narcissism is all about self. Self-confidence is inclusive. 
  • Narcissism is about being better than………..Self-confidence is about being as good as you can possibly be and/or as good as everyone else.
  • Narcissists want recognition and attention. Self-confident people want to do what they love and do it well.
  • Narcissism is about entitlement. Self-confidence is about celebrating achievement.
  • Narcissism is about projecting a false image. Self-confidence is about taking pride in what I know, what I have learned/studied and what I know I am good at.
  • Narcissists lie. Self-confident people are goal-oriented and want to win but make no false promises. 
  • Narcissists repress their emotions/feelings. Self-confident people possess freedom of expression.
  • Narcissists are manipulative. Self-confident people are persuasive.
  • Narcissists are motivated by power and control. Self-confident people are motivated by achievement.
  • Narcissists are obsessed about appearance. Self-confident people care more about their abilities.
  • Narcissists care little for human values. Self-confident people value being human.
  • Narcissists value material possessions. Self-confident people value experience.
  • Narcissists value notoriety. Self-confident people value dignity. 

7 Comments on “The difference between narcissism and self-confidence”

  1. alwaysjan says:

    I was just “friends” with a narcissist and I had difficulty explaining it to those around me. I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like to have been married to one. Your “take on it” is spot on. Most people have no clue what NPD is and are way too quick to use the word narcissism. I do thank Sam Vaknin aka The Head Vampire, for providing a look at their inner void.

  2. MeMyself&Who says:

    Great job & thanks for sharing the link. It’s “nice” to see Sam “in action”, I’ve tried to read some of his writings but usually have to take it slow since it gives me the heebie jeebies! I’ve only watch part of the segment on him but good God he really sounds like my dad (NPD). Think I’m gonna watch the whole documentary. I’ll probably link back to you in a post when I’m done.

    • Thinking Woman says:

      Yup! I’m with you on that one! He gives me the creeps too. On the one hand I want to thank him for shining a spotlight on this (I’m struggling for the word here) ‘evil’ but on the other hand, having been ‘infected’ by one of these ‘vampires’ (thanks alwaysjan! that noun is perfect!) for four years now (still going on – I’ve left but we are still not divorced), I do not wish to lavish any praise on him at all. His ‘condition’ is nothing to be proud of. What he does to people is nothing to ‘behold’. I wish him no good whatsoever and yet, at the same time, what he has to say is enlightening. I would like to read his book but I wont buy it on principle; the fact that the cover price he has put on it is four times more than anyone else would charge is ‘pure grandiose narcissism’ in itself!

  3. Wow! I couldn’t watch all of it–no time–but I never knew there are so many videos on narcissism on YouTube!! Amazing!!

    You make very valid points here, girl!! Thank you!!

  4. Lisa howard says:

    Thankyou this descri

  5. toy67k says:

    recently i read about this thing called narcissism and it was so so so insightful to what i had been struggling to find an answer for, for years i searched for the the things which makes narcissists as they are but i found nothing.Of late i got a mail from a friend saying “search narcissism” and i have got an answer right on. bang. I have a friend who happens to be my flat mate and 99.5% of the symptoms are his life.Always felt there is some problem with him, something was wrong. Just some examples-

    1) Having the biggest bike in the whole circle, though his size is relatively not so big (big in-terms of both size and CC)

    2) Always trying to win friends, nothing is more important than wining people not even the parents

    3) Overtly confident and it felt that this guy is the savior of mankind.

    4) He has a very sharp brain and uses people who he can easily for small things.

    5) Has an aura which declares him as no emotions and tuff guy.

    6) If someone appears to be emotional about something the typical words are- “its not your fault, its ur wrong upbringing which has resulted in you being weak”

    7) Over over exaggerated self. its just about himself. If the others dont understand its their fault.

    8) Always drinking or smoking pot.And its his pride to be doing it for so long.

    9) not working, not accepting anyone to be better than him, i will play the guitar but will not ever take classes for it.

    10) uses his girlfriends money with no hesitation, sleeps with whores, if told thts not correct- answer is for kids everything appears wrong.

    11) interrupts in between talks and first one and the only one to be heard is him in the group.

    12) Fails to understand difference between the things to be taken personally and things taken lightly.

    13) has to be the most notorious in the group (so as to provide for importance)

    14) ready to make small mistakes of the others large and keep on going about it.

    Let me know what you feel of these points.

  6. Emily says:

    Thanks for the post, it is good to know the traits and the difference. I feel your pain. I was in a relationship with one for 9 months, and I regressed so far back, I lost a tonne of self esteem and adopted a new case of social anxiety I have never had before. After we broke up it took me about 4 months and a psychologist to come out of it and feel strong again and that was all from just 9 months of being with a narcisist! I have no idea what I was thinking!

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