9 body language signs that someone has low self-esteem

Having low self-esteem is like looking at yourself in a clouded mirror. Sure, you can see your reflection, but it’s all distorted and funky.

Compare that to someone looking into a clear mirror and seeing all their worth and potential clearly. 

In order to see yourself for who you truly are and fulfill your true potential, you need to gradually clear away the mirror to allow the genuine and positive aspects of yourself to shine through.

One of the best places to start is your body language. For that, we first have to see what the typical body language mistakes of someone who has low self-esteem are. 

Let’s start!

1) Slouched posture

For the longest time, standing and sitting up straight was an uphill battle for me. I had to work on it for so long that I now can’t even imagine slouching.

But a slouched posture often suggests more than just physical discomfort. It’s a telltale sign of someone dealing with low self-esteem.

Beyond slouching, they may also keep their head down, avoiding an upright and open stance.

And when walking, there might be a lack of purpose or energy, as if trying to go unnoticed.

All of this might be an unconscious attempt to avoid standing out or drawing attention. It’s as if they’re trying to blend into the background.

Plus, many who are slouching also move their bodies as little as possible. 

2) Limited body movement

When someone doesn’t move their body a lot, it looks unnatural. It can also reflect a desire to occupy less space, both physically and metaphorically.

However, it could also be a sign of shyness. When I’m feeling shy, I don’t move a lot because I’m unsure about how to express myself, what to do with my arms, where to look, etc. 

That’s why people who do that look insecure, reserved, robotic, and similar, right? For people who are like that, who just can’t find their self-esteem, I’d recommend something I did relatively recently.

It’s called the 30 Day Talking To Camera Challenge. In a month, you get more confidence not just in front of a camera but also in everyday interactions with others in real life. 

The beauty about it is that you film one video a day, 5-10 minutes long, that no one will ever see. 

Each and every day, you get better and build your self-esteem and confidence almost without any effort.  

You can do this without the challenge if you want to because it’s not so cheap. Simply turn on your phone’s camera and start talking into the lens. Review the videos and try to be better each day. 

3) Avoiding eye contact

When someone avoids eye contact, it could mean they’re shy or nervous, and meeting someone’s gaze might make them uncomfortable or anxious.

Additionally, people with low self-esteem worry about being judged, and avoiding eye contact is a way to protect themselves from potential criticism or negative opinions.

Plus, to avoid eye contact, they also frequently glance away when in conversation, almost as if seeking an escape.

And when they’re “forced” into eye contact, they get uncomfortable, and their eyes quickly dart elsewhere.

But looking someone in the eyes is a key element of human connection. If someone avoids it, it makes others uncomfortable and distracted. 

4) Fidgeting or playing 

When people constantly fix their clothes, touch their face, or play with their hair, it’s like their body is trying to find comfort without them even realizing it. 

This tends to happen more when they’re stressed or feeling unsure about themselves. It’s a bit like a security blanket for them, a way of trying to feel better in challenging moments.

For me, it’s touching my beard a lot. I do it all the time and often catch myself doing it. 

This often happens when I have excess energy, or I feel nervous or anxious. It’s like my body is finding an outlet for that energy.

But it’s also a sign of low self-esteem because your body and mind are trying to soothe themselves when you’re in a spotlight and your confidence is low

5) Crossed arms

When you cross your arms, it’s just another way for your body to defend itself when you’re uncomfortable. 

But why are you uncomfortable in the first place? 

Well, I sometimes get uncomfortable when I’m entering a new place and there are a lot of people inside. My mind instantly thinks everyone is looking at me and scanning me from head to toe. 

Like in old western movies where the music would stop and all eyes diverted on the newcomer in the bar. 

For you, it might be the same, or it could be something completely different, like 1 on 1 talks. 

It all comes down to low self-confidence and/or low self-esteem. 

6) Speaking softly

Speaking softly is another aspect of body language that we often associate with low self-esteem.

For one, there’s the fear of drawing too much attention on yourself again. I know that’s a big one for me at times, and I’m working to overcome it more and more. 

That’s one of the reasons I enrolled in the 30-day camera challenge. I wanted to learn how to talk freely in front of others with all eyes on me.   

It also helped me to weed out filler words (uh, ah, like…) when talking and enabled me to clearly express what I want to. 

Another thing I learned early on was to smile more when I’m talking as long as it doesn’t look forced.  

7) Limited smiling

When someone smiles less, it can be because they don’t feel good about themselves. People with low self-esteem often don’t feel very confident or comfortable, and that’s why they smile less often.

Sometimes, they don’t even believe they deserve to be genuinely happy. Or they struggle to find joy or positivity in different situations, as they’re preoccupied with self-doubt or negative self-perceptions.

When you smile at someone, you’re expressing what? An invitation. You’re open to talking to them, right? 

Now, if you have low self-esteem, you don’t want to draw this kind of attention from others, and that’s why you’re smiling less and even looking down so you don’t catch someone’s eyes. 

Just like in high school when you didn’t want to draw attention from the teacher, right? 

8) Difficulty accepting compliments

From my experience, when someone can’t accept compliments, it’s because they struggle to believe the positive things others say about them.

They simply think they didn’t do anything special and that a compliment someone gave them is addressed to the wrong person. 

They just don’t see themselves in the positive light that others do, making it challenging to internalize compliments. 

Some people with low self-esteem might also worry that accepting a compliment means they’re being insincere or boastful.

But here’s something else we need to address:

9) Over-apologizing

People who over-apologize fear they’ll offend or inconvenience others. They’re too cautious about not wanting to upset anyone.

I mean, it makes sense, right? People with low self-esteem often assume responsibility even when they’re not guilty of anything.

They might believe that apologizing frequently will make them more likable or prevent others from being upset with them.

It’s also a way to avoid conflict, and that’s why they apologize preemptively to prevent any potential disagreement or confrontation.

How to boost self-esteem

Boosting your self-esteem isn’t easy. It also isn’t that hard. You just have to make a conscious effort to work on it. 

What helped me the most was to replace self-critical thoughts with positive affirmations. I challenged negative beliefs about myself and reframed them with more constructive perspectives.

Whenever I’d hit a roadblock, I’d reflect on my strengths and remind myself of past successes.

I also started to treat myself with kindness and understanding, as I would a friend. I embraced imperfections and recognized that nobody is perfect.

I set out to learn new skills that would uplift the image I have of myself. That often meant stepping way outside my comfort zone. 

Ultimately, be patient with yourself, celebrate your victories along the way, and focus on creating a positive and compassionate relationship with yourself.

Adrian Volenik

Adrian has years of experience in the field of personal development and building wealth. Both physical and spiritual. He has a deep understanding of the human mind and a passion for helping people enhance their lives. Adrian loves to share practical tips and insights that can help readers achieve their personal and professional goals. He has lived in several European countries and has now settled in Portugal with his family. When he’s not writing, he enjoys going to the beach, hiking, drinking sangria, and spending time with his wife and son.

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