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Why Arrogant People Are Actually Mentally Unhealthy

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Why Arrogant People Are Actually Mentally Unhealthy

Don’t you just hate it when someone acts like they are far superior to you?

I’m sure you know what I mean. You may have just met them casually at a party, and within minutes they’re telling you how successful they are, why they are so important, and why they know everything about everything!

People like this can make you feel small and worthless.

But wait. Why should you suffer at the hands of a megalomaniac?[1] As we’ll see, they are the ones with a problem – not you.

Look how important I am!

A person suffering from delusions of grandeur will believe they possess superior qualities to the average person.[2] In many cases, they will falsely claim that they are famous, wealthy or even geniuses. Because they have convinced themselves that they do indeed possess these qualities or traits, they can be extremely persuasive when speaking with other people.

It’s estimated that 1% of the population suffers from megalomania[3] (also known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder), so it’s inevitable that you’ll regularly meet such people.

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If you don’t know how to deal with arrogant individuals, you may find your self-esteem takes a knock each time you interact with them. It may be something as simple as queuing for a train ticket…. Mr. Arrogant deliberately pushes into the queue, and dares you to challenge his actions. Not wanting to cause a scene, you let him get away with treating you as someone unimportant and inferior.

You feel weak. Yet, they instantly boost their already exaggerated sense of self-worth.

Of course, I’m not overestimating my status in life.

Delusions of grandeur is associated with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). This is a mental health diagnosis listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.[4]

As we’ve already seen, people suffering from NPD are likely to massively overestimate their importance and uniqueness. This can lead to them becoming aloof and almost impossible to deal with. They always think they know best, and they expect to get their way every time.

Were megalomaniacs born this way? According to John M. Grohol, Psy.D., individuals typically experience NPD as a symptom of other mental health illnesses, such as: bipolar disorder, dementia, psychotic disorder and schizophrenia.[5] Grohol also states that drug use or abuse can trigger NPD, or may intensify or bring on more episodes of delusions of grandeur.

How dare you accuse me of being a fraud?!

I’ve revealed some of the reasons why arrogant people act like they do.

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Now, let’s go a step further and look at ways to identify arrogant people who are clearly suffering from NPD.

Delusional individuals believe what they say, so on the surface, they are supremely convincing. However, if you analyze their claims in a logical and scientific way, you’ll have a good chance of exposing their falsities and lies.

Any of the below claims should set alarm bells ringing in your mind:

  • “I’m a famous celebrity.”
  • “I’m the CEO of a multinational corporation.”
  • “I’m a famous inventor.”
  • “I’m a professional athlete.”
  • “I’m a member of a royal family.”
  • “I’m in direct communication with God.”
  • “I’m blessed with superpowers.”

To be fair, any of the above could be true of the person you have just met. But what’s the likelihood? Statistically, there’s much more chance of meeting a NPD sufferer who claims to be one of the above, than meeting someone who actually is one of the above.

To find the truth, probe the person with questions. For example: Tell me more about your company? Where can I read more about your inventions? Can you demonstrate your superpowers?

If you ask the right questions, you’ll have a strong chance of determining if the person is really who they say they are.

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If you’re still unsure, see whether any of these five traits are demonstrated by the person:

  1. Identity. “Surely, you know who I am?”
  2. Knowledge. “I definitely know more about this subject than you do.”
  3. Power. “You need to do as I say.”
  4. Self-worth. “Don’t waste my time. I have much more important things to do.”
  5. Relationship. “It’s hard dealing with all the attention that comes with being George Clooney’s brother.”

Why are you getting in my way?

If you’ve successfully identified a megalomaniac, then you’ll need to call upon some proven techniques for dealing with this person.

Here are seven ways for you to effectively deal with people suffering from delusions of grandeur:

1. Avoid at all possible.

Once you’re aware that you’re dealing with a NPD sufferer, then the best advice is to stay clear of them. The alternative is to be dragged into their make-believe world, where they reign supreme over others – including you!

2. Remain positive.

When subject to demeaning comments from an arrogant individual, you must stay positive. They thrive on your pain and stress, so by staying positive, you’ll defeat their aims.

3. Keep on track.

Don’t let an arrogant person knock your confidence and shatter your dreams. Be above their remarks, and stay firmly on track towards your personal goals.

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4. Retain your sense of humor.

Condescending and negative behavior towards you can make you feel miserable. Don’t let this happen. Remember they are the ones with a problem. Keep your sense of humor, and keep on winning!

5. Know yourself.

One of your best defences against an arrogant and patronizing person is to develop a strong sense of self. By doing this, belittling and degrading comments will bounce of you. Your inner core will be more than a match for even the most arrogant and insulting individuals whom you may come across.

6. Ask them this question: “What will people think?”

NPD sufferers don’t feel guilty, but they do feel shame. At all times, they want to maintain their appearance of authority and importance. If you ask them: “What will people think?” they may change their behavior to protect their reputation.

7. Seek help for the person.

Depending on the circumstances, it may be appropriate for you to seek professional help for a person suffering from delusions of grandeur. You may be able to introduce them to a psychotherapist, who is trained to help people suffering from mental illnesses. Your introduction could be done anonymously, by leaving a therapist’s card on their desk (for example).

Once you realize that arrogant people are mentally unhealthy, you’ll immediately feel more confident about dealing with them. Often their hurtful remarks are simply a sign of their own lack of self-esteem.

It’s critically important to prevent these individuals from negatively impacting your life and well-being. Stay above their level, and stay free and happy!

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Reference

[1] Right Diagnosis: Megalomania
[2] Psy Central: Delusion of Grandeur
[3] Financial Times: When Narcissism Becomes Pathological
[4] Wikipedia: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
[5] PsychCentral: Delusion of Grandeur

More by this author

Craig J Todd

UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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