Have you ever gotten a back-handed compliment from someone, like “Oh, you look nice when you actually make an effort”? Or got told some bad news in a cheerful tone to soften the blow?
Well, in the same way that people can sometimes say and do things that seem fine at first but don’t after further examination, we can also have seemingly positive qualities in ourselves that — if we take a closer look — may actually reveal something negative about us. Wondering what yours might be?
With that said, here are 5 common examples of “good” qualities that may actually just be a disguise for negative ones, according to experts:
Being insensitive and tactless disguised as honesty
Do people often tell you you’re brutally honest? And do you usually respond that you’re just “keeping it real” or “saying the things no one else has the courage to”? Well, according to psychologist Dr. Jason Whiting, you don’t need to tell people everything you think, especially when emotions get negative, because brutal honesty actually does more harm than good to your relationships. So be careful you’re not doing it to a point where you start using it as an excuse to be rude, insensitive, and tactless.
Being controlling disguised as being organized and detail-oriented
Clinical psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen says, “Well-known perfectionists tend to display the trait externally through an obsession with details or a relentless, uncompromising nature…and may find themselves unable to relax or concentrate.” So while there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be organized, detail-oriented, and making a plan for everything, we should also be mindful it’s not making us too rigid, uptight, and controlling.
Vanity disguised as self-confidence
Some people can be vain without even knowing it because they (consciously or unconsciously) disguise their vanity as self-confidence. “We live in the age of vanity and much of it has to do with the role of social media in our lives…uploading good-looking selfies, and showcasing your life online is a part of being normal,” social scientist and mental wellness author Anna LeMind explains. “However, social networking websites didn’t create all this pretense and vanity but just brought these negative character traits to the surface.”
Bottling up feelings disguised as emotional strength
While some may say that crying or getting angry is a sign of weakness, repressing your true feelings isn’t emotional strength either. In an article published by the experts at the Kentucky Counseling Center, they wrote, “Bottling up your emotions means suppressing your innermost feelings. There is the fear that you may appear weak or just prefer keeping your emotions to yourself, which is common. But it’s like sweeping the dirt under the rug and keeping the lid of a boiling pot.”
Being judgmental disguised as being value-oriented
In an article for Psychology Today, therapist Dr. Dana Harron explains that we judge other people as a way to feel superior to them. And one of the ways we do it is under the guise of imposing our values onto others. Though there’s nothing wrong with having strong beliefs, morals, and principles, there’s also something to be said about being open-minded and giving people the benefit of the doubt, especially when it’s not really any of our business to begin with.
So, do you relate to any of the things we’ve mentioned here? What are some of your positive traits that you think may be negative qualities in disguise?
Of course we all have our fair share of imperfections, although we may not always like to admit it. But what matters most isn’t that we’re faultless but rather, that we recognize these areas for improvement in ourselves and put in the work to be better. Wouldn’t you agree?
- Brainy Dose [Brainy Dose]. (2022 Dec 12). 9 Negative Character Traits Often Disguised as Good Qualities [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaAtjOPegIo
- Harron, D. (2021). “Why Do We Judge Other People?” Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/living-eating-disorders/202110/why-do-we-judge-other-people
- Kentucky Counseling Center (2021). “Why Is Bottling Up Your Emotions Bad for You?” Kentucky Counseling Center. Retrieved from https://kentuckycounselingcenter.com/how-bottling-up-your-emotions-is-bad-for-you/#:~:text=Bottling%20up%20your%20emotions%20means,lid%20of%20a%20boiling%20pot.
- LeMind, A. (2021). “5 Negative Character Traits Disguised As Good Qualities in Our Society.” Learning Mind. Retrieved from https://www.learning-mind.com/negative-character-traits-society/
- Whiting, J. (2022). “Why Being Brutally Honest Is So Needlessly Brutal.” Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/love-lies-and-conflict/202208/why-being-brutally-honest-is-so-needlessly-brutal