Impression Management and Arrogance: The Prideful Thinking of the Disordered Character

Disturbed characters think there’s nothing worse than admitting a mistake, backing down in a conflict, or giving in to someone else — because it makes them look inadequate or “weak.”

I’ve been posting on some of the erroneous ways disordered characters think. Prior posts have covered such “thinking errors” as extreme thinking, combative thinking, and self-deceptive thinking:

Another is prideful thinking.

There was a television commercial some years ago that featured a flashy sports personality hawking a fancy camera and its superior picture-taking qualities with the slogan: “After all, image is everything.” Disordered characters believe in this axiom to a most pathological extreme and as a result engage in habitual and unhealthy prideful thinking that interferes with their ability to develop genuine mutually-regarding relationships.

Disturbed characters think there’s nothing worse than admitting a mistake, backing down in a conflict, or giving in to someone else — because it makes them look inadequate or “weak.” They place their image above everything else, and the image they want to maintain is that of an all-powerful, all-knowing, immutable force to be reckoned with. And when they’ve made a mistake, and they know it, they frequently won’t admit it because of how they think it would make them look to others.

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Because they’re so incessantly concerned about the image they project, disordered characters often engage in a wide variety of behaviors designed to manage the impression other people form or keep of them. One important reason they engage in this relentless impression management is because they don’t want anyone to really know them or “have their number” so to speak. This would level the interpersonal playing field and take them out of the position of advantage they always seek to maintain in their relationships with others. They think they will not only lose leverage but also prestige if they honestly self-reveal or if they admit shortcomings or failures.

Habitual prideful thinking promotes the development of vanity and attitudes of haughtiness, arrogance, and pretentiousness. Thinking he can never really acknowledge a mistake prevents the disturbed character from profiting from experience, especially when life is trying to teach him a lesson in humility. Before a person can really correct a problem pattern of behavior, they have to admit there is a problem. To admit a problem is to acknowledge a shortcoming. Prideful thinking is a major barrier to recognizing or correcting any of our behavior problems.

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