Contradictory personality illustration

You are here because you have someone in your life you find confusing or you want to understand yourself better. It’s one of life’s essential skills to be able to deal with people of all personality types. In this article we will look at what a contradictory personality type is, the traits to look for and the type of people who are most likely to exhibit it.

Contradictory Personality at a Glance

  • A contradictory personality refers to traits and behaviors that contradict each other.

  • Example: a person can be the life and soul of the party in certain situations and reserved and insecure in others.

  • Contradictory personality is not necessarily negative, creative individuals and successful people exhibit this personality above what you see in the general population.

  • It is not a personality disorder and not recognised by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Watch Video…

Is a Contradictory personality the key to success?

Examples of Contradicting Traits

To give you an idea of what we mean by a contradictory personality, here are some examples of contradictory traits:

Confident and Insecure

A person can be confident in certain areas and and insecure in others. For example he might be confident at work but in social situations be nervous and unsure of himself.

Independent and Dependent

He or she might value independence in one area, say finances, and be dependent on others in another area say, emotional support.

Optimistic and Pessimistic

A person might be prone too negative thinking but also capable of seeing the positive in situations. A trait that many successful people tend to possess.

Impulsive and Cautious

A person might be impulsive, say when it comes to food, but considered and cautious when making financial decisions.

Disciplined and Carefree

A person can go from disciplined to carefree depending on the situation or day. A trait that creative people tend to have.

Emotional Understanding

A contradictory person can have limited emotional intelligence. They can be good at understanding other peoples emotions but find it hard to understand their own inner life.

Contradictory Personality and Successful People

As successful person. Doe she have a contradictory personality?

Successful people have to go above and beyond what the general population does. It can be confusing watching them exhibit seemingly opposing behaviors and even wondering how they got so successful. However what might seem like conflicting behaviors from the outside turn out to be positive.

Here are some contradicting traits successful people have :

Persistence and Adaptability

Successful people are like a persistent hunter in working towards their goal, but they are also adaptable to changing circumstances. They do not blindly plough ahead, although it may seem like it.

Confidence and Humility

Successful people have the confidence to think big and start a project but have the humility to recognize that they do not and cannot know it all. They know they will make mistakes. This makes them open to constructive feedback.

Individualism and Teamwork

Successful people are highly independent but also appreciate they cannot do it alone. They appreciate and cultivate the skills to lead and work with others at the same time maintaining their autonomy.

Risk Taking and Caution

In order to be successful they take risks but they do this while making sure the minimise the downside if things don’t work.

Vision and Attention to Detail

Successful people think big and have an over arching vision, but also have the ability get their hands dirty and focus on the details.

Contradictory Personality and Creative Individuals

Do creative people have contradictory personality traits.

Creativity involves picking unusual associations that are not obvious to most people. In order to do this you cannot think in a linear way. Highly creative individuals have to go outside and beyond the status quo.

If you wondered how creative people operate, here are some contradictory traits you will see them exhibiting:

Playfulness and Seriousness

Creative people have a playful approach when they are experimenting but at the same time their work has deep meaning to them.

Empathy and Detachment

In order to create meaningful work others will connect and resonate with creative people are emotionally involved in the creative process. However, they also have the ability to detach and let the work reveal itself to them. This is a constant balancing act.

Flexibility and Focus

Creative people adapt and change as they create their art, while at the same time remain fully committed and intensely focused to end goal. They can jump effortlessly between a fixed and growth mindset.

Confidence and Doubt

Creative people maybe sensitive to criticism and full of doubt as to the quality and creativity of what they produced. At the same time they have supreme confidence in the creative process and the beauty and meaning it can provide.

Introverted and Extroverted

Creative people tend to love solitude in order to create but also want to the attention and adulation from people once the art is completed.

Present and Lost in imagination

Creativity involves switching between being consistently present and letting your imagination run free. Highly creative people do both.

Negative Aspects of a Contradictory Personality

Contradictory Personality can have negative aspects

It can be confusing dealing with someone who is inconsistent, especially in close relationships.

We need to to be able rely on people and have the confidence they will act in a more or less predictable way (we also crave novelty, the contradictory creatures we are!). So when someone has behaviours that conflict with each other it can be challenging.

Just as creativity tests measure the creativity of a person but cannot fully understand it, understanding someones personality is a complicated task.

Some negative examples are:

  • Someone can be both arrogant and insecure. This can be challenging. They need you and at the same time they can resent you for helping them as they believe they are special.

  • A person can be aggressive and passive depending on the situation. They maybe passive when it comes to looking after their own health and aggressive in their desire to control other people.

  • An individual can be generous and selfish. Generous when they want to manipulate people ad selfish when someone genuinely needs them.


We all posses contradictory personality traits. For most of us they are not very noticeable and overall we are consistent.

A contradictory personality type is not a mental disorder and should not be considered negative unless it affects the well being of the person and other people. Not just for our own sake, when we want to understand people or ourselves it helps to be frequently present when in social interaction to get a full picture.

Entrepreneurs and creative people tend to be strong in the contradictory traits. This makes sense when you look at the contradictory nature of reality. Both those type of people are dealing with reality in it’s many forms, so can seem like they have paradoxical personalities that can be hard to pin down. Creative people affect how we see reality as do entrepreneurs.

Like all traits, contradictory personality types have positives and negatives each must be judged individually. And just as most creativity tests are testing a person at given moment so it is with with personality types. People with a healthy ego have many sides, this should be appreciated rather than trying sum them up in one word and fit them into a convenient box.

You might also like Elephant and Rope Mindset