The Fine Line Between Pride and Narcissism

The Fine Line Between Pride and Narcissism85% of people suffer from low self-esteem. While everyone is always looking for ways to feel better about themselves, sometimes confidence can be taken to the extreme. Pride and narcissism are two completely different things. One propels us forward, making us feel capable. The other is self-destructive, egotistical, and hurts the people around us.

In this post, we’re going to discuss the differences between pride and narcissism. We’ll also tell you how to spot a narcissist in everyday life.

Defining Pride

Think back to a moment in your life when you felt proud of yourself. Maybe you landed a promotion at work, got a great grade on a paper you worked hard on, or even stood up for yourself when you were being taken advantage of.

You may have also felt proud of other people in your life, like your partner or your child. In general, pride is a deserved feeling, a way to recognize your own accomplishments. It’s a feeling that arises because you know the sacrifices, time, and serious effort that it took to make something happen.

Sometimes, it can even be mixed with other emotions, like surprise, relief, and total happiness. Pride helps you to believe in yourself and teaches you that it’s ok to reward hard work. Signs of pride and self-esteem can even manifest themselves physically. The physicality of pride is identified by a slightly raised chin, a smile, and a chest that’s pushed forward and up.

Pride also motivates you to keep working hard, in order to achieve additional goals. Pride can also encourage you to stick with and stand up for your personal values and code of ethics. Interestingly, people that experience pride fairly frequently also tend to be more extroverted, willing to help others succeed, and see working hard as one of the most important traits you can have.

The main difference between pride and narcissism is that pride is based primarily on feelings of success.

Defining Narcissism

Narcissism, on the other hand, is based primarily on feelings/the fear of failure. Essentially, narcissism is the ugly side of pride. As opposed to feelings of pride, which arise because you’ve worked hard to achieve something, narcissism is feeling pride even when you did nothing at all.

In fact, a narcissist will likely want to take credit for the successes of others. They think things like, “Well, that person never could have gotten that job without me. They should be thanking me.” The narcissist will say this even if they did absolutely nothing to help the other person get the job, like giving a recommendation or helping them to prepare for the interview.

Narcissism is also mixed with emotions like anger and envy. The narcissist is incapable of celebrating the accomplishments of others (particularly if they’re well-deserved) because they believe it takes attention away from them and their “success.”

Of course, these attitudes make it difficult for narcissists to have friendships and relationships, which only furthers their sense of self-aggrandizement and contempt for others. They’ll think things like, “The reality is that no one is good enough for me. No one is intellectually capable of understanding me, and they can see I’m so much better than them.”

Perhaps surprisingly, narcissists actually care deeply about their image and the way others perceive them. They are often focused on materialism and vanity, which can lead to feelings of deep inadequacy. Narcissists often feel a deep shame and personal insecurity. Despite thinking that they’re the smartest and the best person in the room, they also deeply fear that they’re the dumbest and the worst. Often, their bragging is a defense mechanism – but that doesn’t make their behavior acceptable.

One final difference between narcissism and pride is that while people who feel pride, as we stated above, focus on working hard, narcissists think that success is all about luck. It makes sense, as it’s the only way they can “explain” their failures to themselves. Instead of looking for ways to improve themselves, narcissists blame their circumstances and believe they always get the short end of the stick.

Unfortunately, narcissism is fairly common. 1 out of every 16 Americans has been diagnosed with or has lived with the effects of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD.)

How Can I Identify Narcissism?

Spotting a narcissist can be difficult, because at first they may appear to be very charismatic. Here are some quick tips on how to tell the difference between pride and narcissism in a person:


  • Constantly blame others, and want you to dislike the people they feel hurt them, too
  • They’re obsessed with uploading selfies on social media, looking for gratification for their appearance and clothing
  • They tear you or other people you know down by constantly insulting or belittling you
  • They don’t want to celebrate your accomplishments, but can’t seem to stop talking about their own
  • They don’t care if they hurt your feelings, and they don’t think they need to apologize. They see getting upset as “your fault.”
  • They have to be the center of attention no matter where they are and don’t let others get a word in
  • They spend money they don’t have on material things and brag about them to anyone who will listen
  • They seem to have trouble holding onto romantic partners and friends. You can’t keep up with their latest love!
  • They don’t have a problem making “jokes” about their narcissistic behavior
  • They don’t see a difference between pride and narcissism, and they don’t care to learn.

The Differences Between Pride And Narcissism Are Vast

Despite what you may have initially thought, we hope this post has clearly outlined how pride and narcissism aren’t the same at all. You shouldn’t feel guilty about experiencing pride in your accomplishments. In fact, doing so helps to contribute to feelings of self-worth, which is a good thing.

However, if you suspect someone in your life is dealing with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it can be very hard to live with. You may be interested in learning about treatment options.

For more information on how to take care of yourself, and to learn more about narcissism and how it manifests itself, feel free to visit our website and contact us.

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