8 Signs You Might Have Low Self-Esteem

by | May 5, 2022

Low self-esteem can manifest in different ways. For some, it could mean not prioritising themselves. For others, it may result in the inability to stand their ground. Keep reading to know what are the other possible signs of low self-esteem.

Sometimes, people mistake low self-esteem as being a part of their personality. Many of them believe that it’s normal to feel the way they feel and don’t realise that they should seek help.

Getting treated for low self-esteem can open up your world to new opportunities; it can give you a new lease on life.

Whereas untreated self-esteem concerns can be detrimental. It may lead to issues in your life including failure to progress, social isolation, relational conflict, and depression.

The first step in overcoming low self-esteem is identifying whether you suffer from it. The following are some potential signs of low self-esteem that you should look out for.

Negative Internal Monologue

Whether you are trying to decide what to cook for dinner or commuting to work, you might’ve engaged in some internal monologue.

We’ve all been there, done that.

Each individual experiences an internal monologue differently. Regardless, it often occurs as a sort of voice in our head.

The nature of your internal monologue can be what causes you to become anxious over small things. Things that, otherwise, you may not have scrutinised to a great degree. It could be your internal voice telling you that you made a fool of yourself at a work meeting or that that new outfit you bought looks terrible on you.

Unfortunately, at times, our internal monologue can be the most toxic voice in our lives.

That said, it is completely normal to have self-deprecating thoughts every once in a while. Sometimes they can help to keep us in check and remind us of the appropriate way to behave. But, if they become far too negative or critical, it may be a sign that you could have low self-esteem.

In 2013, PLOS One, a scientific journal published a study It explored the connection between one’s psychological processes and how social, biological & circumstantial factors affected mental health. Conducted on a massive scale with 32,827 participants of age 18-85 years, the research found that a tendency to self-blame has a strong correlation to the impact of trauma, life events, the state of well-being, etc.

Overcompensating with Actions or Gifts

There’s a fine line between acts of kindness or consideration and being a people-pleaser.

You might wonder what’s so wrong with doing nice things for others. Sure, it can be a lovely gesture. But, when it comes at the cost of your self-worth, that’s when you know it’s time to take a step back.

Those with low self-esteem will often find themselves in a constant state of “proving themselves” to others. This could be through extravagant gifts or acts of service.

If you feel like you need to do certain things to gain approval from others, it may be a sign of low self-esteem. In these circumstances, it can feel like you aren’t good enough. So you need to go above and beyond to make yourself seem “worth it” to others. This can wear you down, and also dictate how you perceive and navigate relationships.

Try to observe your rationale behind doing something. Is it to seek external validation? Or simply because you wish to make the other person feel cared for? This will certainly help in improving your self-esteem.

Not Feeling Worthy or Deserving

Low self-esteem can become further intensified by work and relationships. If you suspect you have low self-esteem, you should examine how you behave at work or with people.

Ever heard of imposter syndrome?

It is one of the ways people internalise not being worthy or deserving of something. When you constantly doubt your abilities, attribute your success to external factors, and fear being “outed” for not being worthy of your achievements, you are essentially experiencing imposter syndrome.

This has more to do with your skills and work life. In personal relationships, people may feel that they are not worthy of basic love or respect.

To overcome feeling this way, you can talk to a mentor or a trusted family member. This will bring you more clarity on the situation as well as how you are perceiving it. Another solution is to challenge your doubts.

If possible, try to look at it objectively. Find evidence that proves you are worthy of success and respect.

Not Prioritising Yourself

Those with low self-esteem may think that their needs, wants, feelings and voice don’t matter. So, they may feel too uneasy to speak up. This can occur when you place others’ needs and wants above your own.

Perhaps you agree to do your colleague’s work in addition to your own? Or maybe you always allow your partner to make weekend plans with no thought for what you’d like to do?

It is never okay to undermine yourself just so you can appease others.

You matter too.

Of course, in any relationship, there will always be some give and take. However, for the sake of your well-being, there are boundaries that you should set and abide by.

Always Apologising

Do you find yourself saying sorry even if you haven’t done anything wrong?

It is a symptom of low self-esteem to feel like you are inconveniencing others even if you are not. It could even be something you have no control over that you feel responsible for and apologise for.

Flip the script the next time you say sorry. Figure out if you would expect someone to apologise to you if they were in your place.. If the answer is no, it is necessary to evaluate your interactions with others and find out why you feel the need to apologise.

Maintaining such thoughts and behaviours can lead to debilitating social anxiety. Psychotherapist Beverly Engel’s book, The Power of Apology, states that constantly apologising can lead to people feeling like they have the permission to treat you poorly.

Apologies are important to mitigate any harm done or heal from an emotional wound. But, you need to discern when it is appropriate to apologise.

Feeling Guilty and Anxious For No Reason

Guilt can sometimes be helpful.

Yes, you read that right.

Researcher Brené Brown describes guilt as being “helpful”. This is because it helps us identify when we have done something wrong. Feeling guilty is considered to be a moral reaction that prevents us from doing questionable things.

But, when you feel guilty all the time or fret over things ceaselessly, it could be a sign of low self-esteem. It arises from a place of believing that you’ve done something wrong or that you could’ve done something better.

Sometimes, giving it your best shot (at work or in a social situation) and then accepting the outcome without worry is equivalent to patting yourself on the back and appreciating the effort you’ve put in.

Mindlessly Following The Crowd and Not Embracing Your Individuality

A more common sign of reduced self-esteem, wanting to blend in with the crowd is something most of us have experienced at some point.

Following a trend just because everyone is doing so. Agreeing with everything someone says and never expressing your own opinions. Such behaviours occur when you aren’t confident about your individuality.

You may also not want to draw unnecessary attention or cause confrontation. If you’ve ever experienced such thinking, try to subvert it by telling yourself that there’s a place for all of us in this world. And we deserve to embrace who we are without judgement from others.

Still, we are social animals and a balance between connecting / belonging and individuality is healthy.

Having the Inability to Say No

Do you find yourself saying yes to things you don’t want to do? Do you feel that you let people take advantage of you?

The inability to say no ties back to not prioritising yourself.

Never saying no to a request can be harmful in the long run. It can lead to you feeling resentful of those around you, getting stressed from taking on too much responsibility, or feeling depressed as you are doing things that don’t make you happy.

“Being stressed is normal but living in a constant state of high-stress levels can be really detrimental to your health,” says hormone expert Jacqui Watts from Healthful, “Stress can disrupt your natural hormone balance and chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety and depression”.

In Conclusion

While these signs indicate that you may have low self-esteem, they can also be associated with other situational factors.

Even small steps towards altering your mindset and changing the way you behave matter a great deal in improving your self-esteem. Don’t discount the little things you do for yourself.

Want to assess your self-esteem level? Get your self-love score based on M. Rosenberg’s self-esteem scale.


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