These five egotistical traits (and how to handle them)

In many cases, putting yourself on a pedestal is both a valid and valiant act, requiring you to surface your own beliefs publicly, advocate for them, and actively pursue your own goals. The problem develops if you come across someone who seems to reside permanently on that pedestal. On paper, egotistical traits appear similar to narcissistic ones, but in person, they can often be more difficult to recognize. It is possible to set more effective boundaries for self-protection if one learns to spot them.

Despite being often used interchangeably, the words egotist and egoist have very different meanings. Here, we are discussing the former, which merely refers to someone who has an excess of self-interest, whereas the latter refers to someone who believes in egoism, or the philosophical belief that self-interest is what motivates all behavior. Thus, both words derive from the Latin word ego, which indicates a focus on self that translates to a total self-centeredness in the egotist. According to Lesli Doares, LMFT, people believe they are somehow better than everyone else. This can translate into a tendency to use the word “I” excessively in conversation.

“Egoists attribute greater value to themselves than to everyone else.” -Lesli Doares, LMFT

Despite the prevalence of narcissistic personality disorder, not every person can be described as a narcissist, says clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, PhD, author of Don’t You Know Who I Am?Narcissism, entitlement, and incivility: How to Stay Sane in an Era. “Narcissistic individuals seek validation and admiration, are highly sensitive to criticism and feedback, and lack the relationship capacity as well as self-reflection,” she writes.

More specifically, one way to differentiate narcissistic personality traits from egocentric personality traits is based on how a person responds to praise and criticism. A narcissist craves constant admiration, and they respond poorly when confronted with criticism,” says Doares. A self-centered individual? According to Doares, they tend to have a inflated sense of self-confidence, which means they are less inclined to grasp for praise (they are aware of their greatness) and more inclined to simply dismiss criticism as uninformed or rooted in envy.

Here, the experts explain the most common egotistical personality traits, provide examples of how they may show up in daily life, and offer advice on how to deal with them.

Voici are 5 egotistical personality traits you should watch out for:

1. A tendency to constantly refer to oneself

Egoists often say ‘I’ in conversations, and they keep focusing on themselves in whatever way they can, according to Dr. Durvasula. Someone like this often tells personal stories in contexts for which they appear unnecessary-and in the process alienates friends and loved ones.

Rather than trying to reroute the journey of a close friend, it would be better to accompany them and listen to their stories, says Dr. Durvasula.

2. An inability to commit to anything that doesn’t serve their interests

Ask them to attend your child’s dance recital or accompany you to a work event (or do anything else that isn’t directly self-serving), and you’ll get the same evasive “no.” That’s because the egotist doesn’t show up to anything that isn’t useful to them, says Dr. Durvasula—meaning, anything that doesn’t include the people they want to talk to or network with, or offer opportunities they deem worthwhile, she adds. As a result, excluding them from the invitation list will create less tension.

3. A false belief that they can do anything

It doesn’t matter whether their belief is true or not, they believe they are the best, says Doares. If it was negative, an egocentric person might attempt to rewrite history and claim they didn’t do what you experienced. This can often be done in such a ferocious manner that you find it hard to remember what they did.”

As opposed to reacting defensively when this happens, it’s better to assume that an egotistical individual may dismiss your negative experience as unimportant or invalid, and in turn, take their words with a grain of salt.

4. Lack of accountability by the individual

When trying to hold someone accountable for a mistake or wrongdoing, they will at all costs deflect blame or fault from themselves. According to Doares, an egotist will not own anything that isn’t excellent. To avoid becoming frustrated or disappointed by not receiving what you seek, Dr. Durvasula recommends reducing your expectations in this regard.

5. Inability to empathize

A narcissist generally lacks the ability to show empathy, while an egotist usually has difficulty showing empathy, particularly when someone’s upset could be misinterpreted as hyper-sensitivity. According to Doares, egotists are not particularly understanding or supportive of others’ struggles.

According to Dr. Durvasula, it’s wise not to turn to an egotist for emotional support when you’re going through a difficult time. In fact, if you are trying to maintain a relationship with an egotist, it is immensely helpful to have other loved ones (non-egotists) to lean on for support. Having someone who can hear and understand your feelings, while maintaining your best interests, can make a world of difference, says Doares.

As well, if you must have frequent contact with an egotistical individual — perhaps they are a co-worker or a family member — you should set your ground rules in advance about what you will and will not discuss with them, in order to keep sensitive issues at bay.

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