11 Signs an Arrogant Person Is Actually Deeply Insecure

Published by
Janey Davies, B.A. (Hons)

Have you ever met an arrogant person and thought they didn’t live up to their own hype? We typically associate arrogance with an inflated ego and a sense of superiority, but arrogance can also be a shield for insecurity.

We know there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, but some people use arrogance as a shield to hide their feelings of inadequacy, as a defense mechanism to cover up low self-esteem and a front to disguise a lack of confidence.

Here are 11 signs an arrogant person is insecure.

1. Their default setting is attack

“Arrogance is the manifestation of weakness, the secret fear towards rivals.”

Fulton John Sheen

An insecure person will attack first and ask questions later because they need the element of surprise to disarm and confuse people. This deflects attention from themselves.

2. They are always bragging about themselves

“Arrogance needs advertising, confidence speaks for itself.”

Vitor Belfort

Confident people don’t need to bang on about their achievements; they know their actions speak for themselves. Insecure people who come across as arrogant use every opportunity to brag and boast. It’s a cover for their failings. Appearing more successful than they are draws scrutiny from their weaknesses.

3. They always put others down

“Arrogance is a self-defense tactic to disguise insecurities.”

Caroll Michels

As well as boasting about their achievements, arrogant people humiliate and insult others as a way of boosting their self-esteem. They like to gossip and create a situation of ‘them and us’. They believe that if someone else is being targeted, they won’t be.

4. They overcompensate for their shortcomings

“Arrogance really comes from insecurity, and in the end our feeling that we are bigger than others is really the flip side of our feeling that we are smaller than others.”

Desmond Tutu

Whether it’s the flash suit, the latest designer trainers, or a personalized number plate, an insecure, arrogant person will use anything they can to hide their lack of confidence.

5. They are a ‘know-it-all’

“You never really learn much from hearing yourself speak.”

George Clooney

No matter what you’re talking about, this person will always tell you what they would do. They’re the types that offer an opinion or advice to you without asking, but not because they’re confident, because they have to be seen to be on the ball.

6. They lash out at criticism

“Often those that criticize others reveal what he himself lacks.”

Shannon L. Alder

You can’t give an arrogant person who is insecure any kind of criticism (even though they are highly critical of others). They have fragile egos and if under attack, they’ll get personal, insulting your looks, your intelligence, your family and so on.

7. They force their opinions on others

“Knowledge and reason speak, arrogance and ignorance scream.”

Arturo Graf.

It’s true that he who shouts loudest gets the most attention, but it’s also a sign of insecurity cloaked in arrogance. These people are imposing, they speak loudly and don’t want to hear other opinions.

8. They always act busy (but they’re not)

“Problem with an old friend who is too busy: he always perceives you as if never changed.”

Toba Beta

Busy people are productive people. They have responsibilities and are in demand. They contribute to society. There’s nothing worse than a lazy person – that’s why insecure, arrogant people pretend they are busy.

9. They are intolerant of people’s differences

“None are more unjust in their judgments of others than those who have a high opinion of themselves.”

Charles Spurgeon

One sign an arrogant person is insecure is intolerance; particularly towards minorities. Arrogant people point out differences to raise their profile and standing. They boost their self-esteem by devaluing other people. Because they have low confidence, bashing others is one of the few ways they can feel superior.

10. They use backhanded compliments

“Arrogant people are insecure and often repel others. Truly confident people feel good about themselves and attract others to them.”

Christie Hartman

Arrogant people like to think they’re smarter than the rest of us, so they use techniques like backhanded compliments to appear warm and friendly, but in fact, they’re getting one over on us. This passive-aggressive approach typifies insecure behavior.

11. Everything is a competition

“Insecure people only eclipse your sun because they’re jealous of your daylight and tired of their dark, starless nights.”

Shannon L. Alder

One-upmanship is a favorite tactic of the insecure, arrogant person. They must win at everything, whether it’s who has the better car or job or trivial things like who can eat the hottest curry or who has the best garden. Insecure types are always looking to prove they are the winners. It’s tiresome.

So why are some insecure people arrogant?

It’s a defense mechanism to fool others

Insecure people use arrogance as a defense. It’s like the mask narcissists put on to hide their true personality. Arrogance acts as protection. Arrogance is often mistaken for confidence, and it can fool others into thinking someone is superior.

It convinces themselves of their superiority

People with low self-esteem sometimes act arrogantly to convince themselves they are better than others. The louder they shout, the more they believe in the hype they’ve created.

It’s a coping strategy for life’s setbacks

An insecure person uses arrogance as a shield to hide their shortcomings, and so they use it to cope with life’s difficulties. Arrogance protects them from situations or feelings they’d rather not face. It’s a barrier against the world that lets them retreat behind, firing missiles in safety.

It’s protection against their fragile ego

People with robust egos can stand a little criticism now and then. People with fragile egos are defensive and prone to overreacting. They take any criticism as a personal attack and will lash out over the smallest perceived slight.

How to cope with an arrogant person

  • Understand that arrogance comes from a place of insecurity. This person is unhappy with their life, which is why they’re bragging or lashing out.
  • Speak directly to the person if you feel they’re overstepped the mark or are being untruthful.
  • Know that you can’t change someone’s insecurity, but you can set boundaries and limit the time you spend with them.
  • Keep calm and act reasonably. An arrogant person will often use personal insults to attack others, causing them to lose their temper.

Final thoughts

Of course, not every arrogant person has low self-esteem or a fragile ego, but it’s interesting to think that arrogance comes from a place of insecurity. So, can you spot the arrogant, insecure person?



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Published by
Janey Davies, B.A. (Hons)