10 Unmistakable Signs You Have Low Self-Esteem

By DeAndrea Douglas
signs of low self esteem

Do you find yourself constantly doubting your abilities and feeling unworthy of love and success? If so, you may be struggling with low self-esteem. According to Psychology Today, about 85% of people experience low self-esteem. But what exactly is low self-esteem and how does it manifest in our daily lives? We will explore the nine most common signs of low self-esteem and provide a few practical tips on how to improve it. Whether you are someone who struggles with this issue or simply want to understand it better, read on to discover the key insights and strategies for building a healthier sense of self-worth.

What is Low-Self Esteem & How Do You Identify It?

Low self-esteem is a deeply personal and internalized feeling of inferiority, lack of worth and skepticism towards your own capabilities. It reveals itself as persistent self-doubt, critical self-assessment, and an overwhelming sense of being undeserving of happiness, success, or positive relationships. Identifying low self-esteem often involves recognizing recurring patterns of negative self-talk, a tendency to excessively criticize yourself, hypersensitivity towards criticism from others, and persistent feelings of depression, anxiety, and unhappiness. It’s also reflected through a constant need for validation, approval, and affirmation from others, and an excessive fear of failure or rejection, which often results in risk aversion or avoidance of challenges.

Why is Low Self-Esteem Bad?

If you suffer from low self-esteem it can be severely detrimental becuase it triggers a harmful cycle of self-doubt and negative self-perception. Deep inside, you might think you’re not worth it, that you’re not capable, or that success is for other people but not for you. You will view yourself through a harsh, critical lens, unfairly comparing your life, appearance, or skill to others. It’s not simply a matter of feeling bad about yourself. It’s a fundamental barrier that prevents you from reaching your full potential. Low self-esteem convinces you that you won’t succeed, thus stripping you of the urge to try anything new or challenging. It forces you into a comfort zone that eventually becomes a cage, leaving you trapped in a self-perpetuating cycle of self-doubt and missed opportunities.

why is low self esteem bad

10 Signs of Low Self-Esteem

Learn signs to look for to know if you have low-self esteem. It’s okay if you show a few or all of the signs of low self-esteem. You can learn to become more confident over time and start to feel better about yourself. This list is to help you name the thing that has been bothering you so you can do something about it.

1. You Feel Inadequate or Unworthy

If you constantly compare yourself to others, feeling that you’re always falling short you could believe that you are not good enough and that everyone else is better in every possible way. You may also have a pervasive sense of unworthiness, feeling like you don’t deserve love, happiness, or success. These signs point towards a deep-rooted sense of low self-esteem. It gnaws at you, intensifying feelings of inadequacy and vulnerability. This lack of confidence keeps you from asserting yourself and pursuing your goals; it’s the massive wall standing between you and your aspirations. So remember, every time you’re crippled by fear or dogged by feelings of self-doubt, it’s an indication that your self-esteem might need a positive boost.

2. You Constantly Seek External Validation

When you find yourself constantly seeking validation from others, it’s a clear indication that your self-esteem could be on the lower side. Instead of feeling confident in your abilities and decisions, you’re constantly in need of approval from those around you. This kind of reliance on external affirmation and validation can be crippling. It’s as if you’re living in a perpetual state of doubt, unsure of your own worth unless others confirm it. Each affirmation becomes a temporary patch, providing momentary relief, but quickly leading to a sense of emptiness once its effects wear off. This constant need for reassurance reveals a lack of self-confidence, a fundamental symptom of low self-esteem. Understanding this is the first step towards building a healthier, more self-reliant you.

3. You Have Difficulty Accepting Compliments or Praise

You might not realize it, but your difficulty in accepting compliments or praise could be signalling a deeper issue – low self-esteem. Each time someone commends your accomplishments and you shy away, it’s a sign that you’re struggling to acknowledge your own worth. When your work is celebrated and you downplay its significance, you’re unconsciously undermining your own abilities and efforts. The praises heaped on you are not flattery or exaggeration; they’re typically the true recognition of your talents. Yet when you brush them off, you tend to affirm a belief that you don’t deserve the commendation. This self-devaluation is a red flag of low self-esteem, revealing a lack of confidence in your capabilities, regardless of their actual value.

4. You are a Perfectionist or Fear Failure

Is perfection an unattainable, elusive ideal that you relentlessly chase? Each time you stumble or fail, a sense of foreboding grips you. This is more than just a quest for excellence. This is an unhealthy fixation borne out of your fear of failure. You fear judgement, you fear not meeting expectations, you fear facing your own shortcomings. And each time you succumb to this fear, you devalue yourself. You might not notice it, but these signs are evident of a low self-esteem. Underneath that quest for perfection, lies a lack of self-belief. You’re underestimating your worth, encasing yourself in a shell not willing to embrace your potential. Remember, failure isn’t the end – it merely signals room for improvement. Let go of your perfectionism, confront your fears and you’ll see your self-esteem improve.

5. You Lack of Assertiveness

When you constantly find it difficult to express your thoughts, opinions, or defend your rights in a respectful and honest manner, it often points towards a feeling of inadequacy or fear of judgement. It’s as if an internal voice is constantly whispering, “You’re not good enough, your thoughts aren’t valuable, or you’re not worthy of respect”. This is like a ceaseless, damaging mantra that impairs your ability to be assertive, ultimately leading to the trapping cycle of low self-esteem. It’s crucial for you to understand that your voice matters and you have every right to articulate your perspectives without the fear of rejection or disapproval.

6. You Have Difficulty Setting and Enforcing Boundaries

You might not realize it, but your struggle to set and enforce boundaries is indicating something deeper, it’s a sign of low self-esteem. Isn’t it frustrating to feel like a doormat, having others walk all over you because it seems easier to say ‘yes’ than ‘no’? Deep down, you might be afraid of confrontation, afraid that you’ll lose your value if you stand up for yourself. This is not true. If you constantly put others’ wants and needs before your own, you’re sending yourself a message that you’re not as important. The reality, however, is that you matter just as much. This fear of being assertive suggests low confidence in your own worth. Learning to assert yourself and establish strong boundaries is not just about saying ‘no’, it’s about reaffirming your value and recognizing that your needs and feelings are important too.

7. You Tend to Unfairly Compare Yourself to Others

When you continuously find yourself comparing your life, achievements, or characteristics to those around you, this often signals low self-esteem. When you’re confident in who you are and content with your own journey, you tend to focus less on others’ paths. Instead, you devote your energy to fulfilling your potential. Constant comparisons, on the other hand, suggest that you’re seeking validation externally rather than from within, and that you’re doubting your own worth. You’re overlooking your unique value and accomplishments by measuring them against someone else’s. This comparative mindset, unfortunately, can further erode your self-esteem, pushing you into a destructive cycle. It’s crucial, therefore, to acknowledge this habit as an indication of low self-esteem and take meaningful action towards rebuilding your self-confidence.

8. You’re Overly Sensitive to Criticism

Difficulty accepting crticism reveals a level of self-doubt and vulnerability, a symptom of low self-esteem. When you’re feeling secure in your abilities and your worth, you can comfortably assess the validity of criticism, understand it and use it as a tool for growth. However, if criticism triggers a defensive reaction or an urge to withdraw, it’s usually because the critique has hit a nerve, affirming those negative self-beliefs you’ve been carrying. Consider this as an opportunity to delve deeper into your insecurities and to evolve. Remember, everyone makes mistakes and everyone has room for improvement. The key is to use criticism not as a weapon against yourself, but as a compass guiding you towards self-enhancement.

9. You Avoid Social Situations Because You Fear Judgement

If you’re constantly dodging social situations and the very thought of being judged by others fills you with dread, you might have low self-esteem? It is more than just introversion or shyness. You second guess every word you say, every move you make, believing that others are scrutinizing you, probably even criticizing you. The fear of being judged, this self-imposed pressure to always be perfect, can be paralyzing and can pull you further away from social interactions. Constant avoidance is your defense mechanism and how you evade potential judgement or criticism. But remember, it’s also a barrier holding you back from experiencing life to its fullest and a sign that your self-esteem needs a boost.

10. You Constantly Criticise Yourself & Have Negative Self-Talk

Your consistent self-criticism and persistent negative self-talk are clear indicators of your low self-esteem. Every time you berate yourself, you’re reinforcing a negative identity, painting a picture of someone who is less capable, less worthy, less valuable than those around you. This constant, gnawing negativity begins to shape the way you perceive yourself, which in turn influences your actions and decisions. It traps you in an unhealthy cycle, where your negative self-image leads to poor choices, which then feeds back into your negative self-image. This repeated cycle chips away at your confidence and self-worth, solidifying the false idea that you’re not good enough, capable enough, or deserving of success, happiness, and respect.

How Long Does It Take To Fix Low Self-Esteem?

Recognizing low self-esteem symptoms is the first decisive step on your journey towards self-improvement. It’s perfectly normal to exhibit some or even all signs of low self-esteem, and it’s important to understand that self-esteem is not a fixed attribute; it is malleable and can be cultivated with time. This list serves as a mirror to illuminate underlying insecurities you might be battling with, aiming to foster self-awareness, and empower you to make meaningful changes. Transforming self-perception is a process, it doesn’t happen overnight, but with patience, self-compassion, and commitment, you can nurture a healthier self-image, boosting your confidence and your overall well-being.

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