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Relationships, Life Changes, Therapy, and Personality: Self-Confident Style

Self-confident: the need to be recognized and achieve

Who has a streak or main aspect of Self-Confident?

Do you know someone who believes, no matter what happens, that they are exceptional? When treated unceremoniously, do they openly or silently protest until they get recognition? Is their desire for accomplishment and success almost brazen? Often, they are tough climbers, good at utilizing the strengths of others, and seasoned interpersonal politicians. While they may have some hubris, they are otherwise aware of their inner state. They do well with (and can accept) compliments and admiration. Such people are predominantly Self-Confident.

This is the fourth post in a series on ‘personality styles’ described in The New Personality Self-Portrait by Oldham & Morris. For more detail about the source, please see my credits and comments at the end.

Please note: people can have a mixture of more than one major style, which I think is realistic and useful.

Stressors for Self-Confident style…

Self-confident people are settled, but sometimes hard to adapt or bend


Oldham & Morris describe several sources of wounded emotional reactivity for predominantly Self-Confident people. In my summary:

  • Criticism–both taking it and, if they use it, using it for the right reasons (self-development instead of just ‘getting by’)
  • Disloyalty or being overtaken
  • Lack of recognition of their interpersonal and personal labors
  • Sudden disillusionment that others do not think or value in the same way they do
  • Sudden discovery that others have been unhappy while the self-confident person has been busy ‘advancing’
  • Hard rejections

You may have heard extreme versions of the Self-Confident style described as ‘Narcissistic’. That is a more extreme personality marked by outright grandiosity, frequent fantasies about perfection and limitlessness, and a belief that only ‘great’ people are worthy of them or capable of understanding. Their arrogant and entitled need for admiration and obedience can be hard to tolerate. They may exploit others because they feel little empathy for ‘mere mortals’ and have a preoccupation with envying others or being envied by others…even when the latter is mostly projection.

Relationships and Work

Mainly Self-Confident individuals are magnetic in their self-certainty and drive. They appreciate admiration and compliments and take them without hesitation. Unless they are strongly Narcissistic, however, Self-Confident individuals worked hard to earn those accolades, advancements, and praises from others. They need to be of use and to bring people over to their team / clan. When things do not go well relationally, they tend not to complain very openly. They get going on the business of moving on and finding new connections by turning on the charm, immersing themselves in interests, and reaching new achievements.

The highly Self-Confident do well in relationships with those who find fulfillment in satisfying and serving others, such as mainly Self-Sacrificing and Devoted folks. Mostly Sensitive persons need a strong, confident, outgoing mate / friend, and the Self-Confident, per Oldham & Morris, “need to be needed” (a good match). While it sometimes works out, there will be inevitable conflicts with another Self-Confident person. If their neediness is minor enough, another good match is a mainly Dramatic person. Serious persons may be too somber. Finally, a pairing with any of the styles that chafe at–or worry about–being controlled, mistreated, or abandoned will usually be quite problematic.

Unshakable confidence can come with over-identifying with achievement and ability

Predominantly Self-Confident people in therapy (therapists, read in ‘reverse’…):

You, Self-Confident, know who you are in terms of external identity, what you believe, what is right and wrong, and what you value, but you can be vulnerable to the assumption that everyone else agrees with your perspectives and needs. This is part of the reason why your therapist–if they see your patterns–does not immediately praise and admire you. You may find it strange or anxiety-provoking at first when they promote this ‘other-seeing’ or even examine whether you have some sense of who you are aside from achievements, possessions, activities, etc. If you are strongly Self-Confident, you may need to try out more than one therapist until you find someone who can benevolently keep you in check, while keeping a strong, comforting, underlying current of care and sensitivity to your predicaments.

Self-Confident self-help (and for therapy):

Magnetism, confidence, and achievement–most of the time, how could others fail to appreciate and join with you? So, dropping that concern may make it easier to face the fact that you are not as invested and attentive to others as you expect them to be for you. In your tougher times, you may worry that the feedback (sometimes critical) of others is intended to harm you, or you may assume such persons are not intelligent or savvy enough to ‘get it’. This is best counteracted by remembering that others have their own perspectives, goals, and needs and are simply expressing them. It does not have to mean that yours (or you) are wrong, bad, or shameful.

Work to notice individualized things about the people you meet, work with, and love with. Even if you must do so one thing at a time, get them down and really absorb what you notice. Learn about others so they are richly individual–try to purposefully see how they are different than you, but not ‘less than’ or ‘odd’. Ask people questions that focus on them, rather than questions that bring them in only as an observer, admirer, or critic of you.


*I give full credit for the content to Oldham & Morris (1995). Any elaboration and exploration is my doing. If you want significantly more detail on each personality style, please go get the book. Also, take the test: it is here. I have no business relationship with the authors or the test-makers. Please see the intro post on this topic for other info.

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