“I love myself.”
“Right. Don’t you think you’re a bit of a narcissist?”
Growing up, I had quite a few interactions like that. Every time I tried to express how much I liked who I was, people would try to bring me down, assuming that loving yourself must ultimately mean you’re just not self-aware enough.
Little did they know that the opposite is the case. When someone balks at the expression of your self-love, it’s not because they know themselves better – it’s because they’re intimidated by such an open display of inner peace.
And it’s because they fear they might never get to that place on their own.
Let’s look at the 7 phrases ultra-confident people use without realizing it intimidates others.
1) “I’m proud of myself”
Saying that you’re proud of your accomplishments is one of the biggest signs of self-love.
Our society encourages humility and politeness. And while both of those things constitute a good character, you’ve got to be able to navigate the difference between humility and tearing yourself down to please others.
Imagine you’ve worked really hard for something. You know in your heart that it wasn’t luck that got you here – it was sweat and tears and sacrifice.
But once someone compliments you – “Wow, this is so impressive!” – your automatic response might be to wave your hand, laugh awkwardly, and say, “Oh, it’s nothing, really.”
Is it nothing, though? It sure as hell didn’t feel like it when you were working hard into the night.
Ultra-confident people are very well aware that they are deserving of their accomplishments. And they’re not afraid to show it.
“I’m proud of myself” means that you are acknowledging your work and effort. It means you know you are worthy of success.
When someone’s mindset is stuck in the good old ways of “oh, it’s nothing”, hearing you say that might intimidate them a great deal.
2) “I’ve got this”
What about when you haven’t actually begun working on that huge project yet? How do confident people act when there’s a great task ahead of them?
A big hallmark of confidence is the ability to put your trust in your future self.
It’s the decision to let worries be worries – they might float around your headspace, but that doesn’t mean you’ll pay them any attention or assign them more weight than you ought – and just jump into action.
Naturally, some people find this scary.
They struggle to understand how you can believe in your capabilities so much that you don’t even express any doubts. And while they may act like they dislike you because you’re “too full of yourself”, the truth is that they’re afraid.
They fear that your display of confidence must mean you really are that good, which in turn means that if they ever want to reach the same heights, they’ll have to pull their socks up.
3) “No, thank you”
Just a few years ago, I thought that saying “no” also meant you had to have a reason.
“Do you want to go out on Saturday?”
Then I learned that “no, thank you” is a full sentence. People aren’t entitled to your reasons.
They don’t need to know that you already have a date planned or that you just want to stay in bed and read a book all day.
That is your business. And it’s up to you to decide whether you want to share it or not.
Of course, there are people out there who find this behavior strange or even rude. They expect the excuses to start rolling in. A simple “no, thank you” means you’re too “shut off” for their liking.
But you’re not shut off. You’re just confident. You know that your life is yours to talk about. It’s not a TV show anyone can tune in to watch.
4) “Here’s how I do it”
A friend once told me, “Wow, I wish my arms were as nice as yours! How do you do it?”
“Thanks! I go to the gym four times a week. I can share my workout routine with you if you’d like?”
She laughed awkwardly and brushed the topic aside.
Reflecting back on the conversation now, I think she probably just wanted to give me a compliment. But instead of waving it away, saying a simple “thank you”, or offering reassurance, I gave a practical explanation.
By telling her that I’d put a lot of work into my arms and was well aware of how good they looked thanks to it, I showed her that growing muscles was an achievable goal for her, too.
I turned an abstract concept – “she simply has nicer arms than me and there’s nothing I can do about it” – into a realistic goal – “if I follow this routine, I will look similarly”.
And that was uncomfortable for my friend to hear. It meant she was presented with the opportunity to work on herself, which also meant that she had to…yep, work on herself.
5) “I like being alone”
Ah, the most terrifying of phrases! Some people like being on their own, alarm, alarm!
Look, I love both extroverts and introverts. There is nothing wrong with recharging when you’re in the company of others, just like it’s completely okay to recharge in solitude.
However, knowing how to spend time with yourself is a vital skill. It means you’re comfortable with your own thoughts, which in turn increases your self-awareness and emotional self-regulation.
What’s more, solitude helps boost your confidence because it makes you realize just how resourceful you are on your own. Relying solely on yourself is one of the most empowering things you could ever do.
This is also why it’s so very intimidating. When someone enjoys solitude, we tend to think they’re “weird”, but in reality, we’re just scared of such a high level of confidence.
6) “You’ve crossed my boundaries. Don’t do it again”
Sometimes, people will try to push your buttons just to see how far they can take it.
The moment you confidently tell them that their behavior is crossing your boundaries, you’re signaling that you’re not going to let them push you around.
They get intimidated. And if they are emotionally intelligent, they will respect you and your decisions because they know that they ought to take you seriously.
Stating your boundaries is incredibly confident and mature.
7) “I messed up, but that’s okay”
One of my friends recently started a business. He made a few bad decisions and suffered the consequences.
But did he beat himself up about it? No, because he’s extremely confident, and that confidence comes from a place of self-love.
He knows he’s not perfect. He knows he will make mistakes along the way. And he’s okay with that.
“I messed up, but that’s okay,” he said. “I have another plan.”
Optimism and resourcefulness can be scary if you don’t possess those qualities yourself.
And don’t even get me started on self-love – just like we said at the very beginning of this article, seeing that someone truly loves themselves can be terrifying.
But that’s not the confident person’s fault. They are right to love themselves. They are right to be their best friends.
It’s the rest of the world that’s got work to do. And slowly but surely, we can all get there.