This type of person is full of fake courage and will seek out external stimuli that support their false sense of bravery – alcohol, drugs, and gangs. Exploiting other people’s fears is another device they use to give them a sense of powder and to bolster the confidence they lack on the inside. On their own, they will avoid getting into situations that demand they show how truly brave they are, but in the presence of their friends, for example, they won’t mind provoking you into a fight. Challenge the coward to step out on their own, and they will make excuses to avoid singular confrontations.

Key traits

Other characteristics of these people include:

  • They fake friendliness and flattery to hide their very low sense of self-esteem.
  • Like hyenas, they orchestrate personal attacks in packs because they don’t want you to see how weak they really are.
  • They like boasting about personal accomplishments which don’t exist or are exaggerated.
  • Their actions and existence are dominated by fear, which is why they are extremely sensitive to criticism and come across as living inside their shell.
  • Sometimes they are so overcome by habitual negative thinking they avoid any situation that seems risky.
  • In their own eyes, they are experts at most things – but such talk usually just serves to mask a pervasive sense of them being inadequate.

Positives

  • When a coward perceives you as fearless, respectful and understanding, they might soften and lower their guard enough for you to get to know them better.
  • Deep down, many cowards are frightened and want to feel cared about. If you can see past their aggressive posturing and show them genuine warmth, they might turn into a decent person.

Negatives

  • Cowards don’t deal well with criticism and their hypersensitivity to personal remarks can be infuriating to well-meaning colleagues and family.
  • Their false sense of bravery and regular boasting can be off-putting to those who know them.
  • Rather than risk your disapproval, they will say and do things to flatter you or ingratiate themselves.
  • In stressful situations, they will downplay the severity of what is happening, and pretend that things aren’t as bad as they are.
  • Sometimes they will launch personal attacks on you out of the blue as a way to ward off any potential confrontation they expect to unfold.

How do I deal with one?

If you find yourself in the company of a coward, there are ways to disarm them:

  • They are typical bullies who like to do and say things to unsettle you. If you stand up to them or show they can’t get under your skin, they will lose motivation and move on – albeit to easier targets.
  • When confronting cowards, disarm them with humor. This usually deflates their comebacks and makes them feel like a fool.
  • Avoid arguing with cowards – it’s a waste of time as they lack the emotional maturity and resolve to learn from experience.

Am I one?

  • You set yourself goals but give up on pursuing or completing them – your tendency to expect the worst prevents you from taking the risks necessary to reach them.
  • Not only do you doubt whether good will come from challenging situation or relationships, but you also apply this negative thinking to yourself.
  • Even when surrounded by others you feel lonely because you fear being ridiculed if you reveal more of yourself.
  • You point out other people’s weaknesses in order to hide your own.

How can I stop?

Seek professional help – the empathetic interest and concern of a trained therapist who has your interests and fears at heart might help you face yourself, motivating you to develop faith in your abilities. Once you have this trust in yourself, you won’t feel the need to belittle others in order to feel better. You might need a lot of coaxing, or a personal crisis, to seek such assistance as you doubt that it will be worth it.

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