Fragile High Self-Esteem Behavior That Causes Emotional Stress

Megan Smith
 min read

Fragile high self-esteem behavior and attitudes can often be misperceived by others.

Fragile High Self-Esteem Behavior That Causes Emotional StressA person with fragile high self-esteem could be described as arrogant and a little too sure of themselves. High self-esteem can lead to risky behavior, thinking they are safe from everything because they over-position themselves compared to others. Narcissism is at the extreme end of this spectrum.

Read on to better understand people with fragile high self-esteem and how it affects their lives.

Fragile high self-esteem behavior: Introduction

People with high self-esteem have the same ego frailties as people with low self-esteem. However, they will struggle with their doubts differently.

In fact, they will have added characteristics even more flamboyant than others. These people try everything to shine, dominate, and be loved and admired.

In these individuals, efforts to maintain high self-esteem serve as a defense mechanism not to:

  • doubt too much
  • have to accept their limits
  • be faced with fragilities that cause concern.

As with low self-esteem, social comparisons are also permanent. However, we compare upward, and we are jealous. Sometimes we devalue to reduce the gap, not by raising ourselves but by putting others down. We can also compare downward where we despise the other.

What is fragile high self-esteem?

How can we understand and define this fragile high self-esteem? Depending on the studies conducted, they have been given various names such as unstable, insecure, defensive, false self-esteem, etc.

Several studies have been carried out on these self-esteem profiles. These have turned out to be more involved than previously thought in many psychological difficulties such as uncontrollable anger, alcohol abuse, sudden and severe depression, etc.

However, it is interesting to note that studying these individuals is not straightforward. Indeed, it is not only because they do not come to consult much but also because they do not always clearly know how they function.

It is difficult to distinguish between authentic and fragile high self-esteem

When we try to detect them through simple self-esteem questionnaires, it is almost impossible to distinguish between authentic high self-esteem (stable and serene) and fragile high self-esteem.

Researchers use subliminal evaluation methods to track down this “truth” of self-esteem.

For example, they can ask the test subjects whether or not several adjectives apply to them. This is done in front of a computer screen and includes positive adjectives (e.g., friendly, intelligent, generous, etc.) and negative ones (e.g., distant, hypocritical, angry, etc.). Also, the subjects are asked to react as quickly as possible.

Through this exercise, the researchers do not so much study the number of self-rewarding responses as they focus on their speed. Indeed, the reaction speed reflects the “sincerity” of the answers.

High self-esteem is authentic if the speed of responses is significantly greater than that of low self-esteem.

Source: Jordan, et al., Secure and Defensive High Self-Esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2003

Fragile high self-esteem behavior

People with high fragile self-esteem are convinced that in matters of social judgment, the best defense is offense. Indeed, these people devote more effort to promoting their self-esteem than building it solidly.

They also engage in many social comparisons:

  • Upward, they are jealous of or devalue others.
  • Downward, they despise them.

These people will readily take action because of their strong need for gratification. Still, they suffer from a strong intolerance to failure and an overall difficulty in challenging themselves.

In the face of doubt, they will try to preserve their rank at all costs, strike a pose, and adopt the posture of dominance.

When a problem is put in front of them (posed by reality or by a person), there are finally only two solutions:

  • Either question themselves,
  • Or question the relevance or validity of the problem.

The second choice is the most common for these people.

Constructing a super-self

This overestimation of oneself expresses the attempt to construct an external version of oneself, defined as a social character that will protect the underlying, much more fragile person.

This super-self has a great need for recognition by distinction from the herd. Indeed, if these people remain normal, they could sink. So it is considered essential to put themselves forward and above others.

By creating a super-self, you can feel like you’re protected, and others won’t be able to get too close because you’d be too high or too impressive.

Creating an imposing super-self will therefore protect these people with fragile high self-esteem.

As we try to build a strong and dominant image, proximity and intimacy will represent dangers.

Consequences of fragile high self-esteem

Fragile high self-esteem will lead to strategies that will cause stress and a high emotional cost.

The obsession with recognition and performance will lead to thinking of investment in intimate energy as sinful.

During the movements and aspirations of self-esteem upwards, we find wear and tear, a weakening of the personality, and a frequency of anxious manifestations.

During downward movements, there is a risk of depression and sudden awareness of the fragility of one’s self-esteem.

This self-esteem instability and fragile high self-esteem and exhausting over-positioning will represent an even greater impasse for the person than that posed by low self-esteem.

Narcissism as an extreme case

Narcissists need to charm their audience or “show off” in front of others. As long as we can self-reflect, evolving is always possible.

However, as this capacity to self-reflect diminishes, the closer one gets to what psychiatrists call the “narcissistic personality,” a form of hypertrophy (excessive development) of self-esteem.

Narcissists are convinced that they are superior to others and deserve the best, whether it be the best treatment or places.

They are also convinced they should have special rights because they are superior to others. For example:

  • they will drive faster than others (because they drive better and their car is safer),
  • they speak longer in meetings (because their ideas are more valuable), etc.

Their success does not give them pride in their actions, but it will plunge them into excess, an excess of pride that bloats the whole person.

Narcissists go to great lengths to show that they are not just anyone and systematically seek attention.

In addition, narcissistic personalities have little concern for reciprocity, listening, and empathy.

Being in their presence is therefore frustrating and sometimes unpleasant. The other exists only as a counterpart, as an adversary, or as an obstacle.

Narcissists have such high self-esteem that they’ve become blind and indifferent. This creates a total deadlock for both their existence and progress.

Fragile high self-esteem behavior: Conclusion

People with high self-esteem over-position themselves and like to make many social comparisons:

  • Either upwards where they devalue the other or are jealous of them,
  • Or downward where they will despise them.

They tend to build a strong and dominant image and do not hesitate to create a super-self persona. For these people, proximity and intimacy represent dangers.

Narcissism is an extreme case of high self-esteem. A narcissist is blindly convinced of their superiority to everyone else and thinks he has all the rights.

All strategies implemented to protect the high but fragile self-esteem persona will create stress and a high emotional cost. Indeed, constantly wanting to obtain recognition and performance requires considerable energy.

About Megan Smith

Megan has been fighting overweight and her plus size since her teenage years. After trying all types of remedies without success, she started doing her own research. Megan founded Plus Size Zeal to share her findings. She also developed various detailed buying guides for plus-size people in order to make their lives easier and more comfortable. Read More