Low self-esteem is a tricky beast, especially for men.
Society often expects them to be strong and unshakeable. Therefore, it’s hard for a man to not feel compelled to compensate when he feels inferior to his peers.
Compensation could come in many forms. Some are subtle; others are glaringly obvious.
In this article, we will uncover 9 telling signs of low self-esteem in men.
Keep your eyes wide open – you might just uncover something you never noticed before.
1) Overcompensation in achievements
Now, who doesn’t love a bit of success? We all do. But there’s a big difference between taking pride in genuine accomplishments and using them as a mask for low self-esteem.
Men with low self-esteem often feel the need to prove their worth. This could mean constantly talking about their achievements, exaggerating their successes or even outright lying about them.
It’s not just about trying to prove something to others, but also to themselves. They might believe that by accumulating enough accolades, they can somehow fill the void within.
2) Overly defensive
Alright, let me share a personal story.
I used to have a colleague named Jake. Jake was always quick to defend himself, even when it wasn’t necessary. If you so much as lightly teased him or made an innocent comment, he would immediately jump into defense mode.
At first, I thought it was just his sense of humor or maybe he was just having a bad day. But as time passed, I realized this was a pattern. He was overly sensitive to criticism, even when it wasn’t intended as such.
It took me a while to realize that Jake’s defensiveness was actually a sign of his low self-esteem. He was so scared of being seen as less than perfect that any hint of criticism made him feel threatened.
3) Constant comparison
Ever encounter someone who constantly compares themselves to others? It’s exhausting, isn’t it?
Well, this could be another sign of low self-esteem. Men dealing with these feelings often measure their worth by comparing themselves to those around them. They’re constantly on the lookout for someone doing better or worse than them, just to see where they stand.
Here’s an intriguing bit of information – according to a study in the European Journal of Developmental Psychology, people with low self-esteem are more likely to make social comparisons. They do this to validate their own self-worth or to reassure themselves that they’re not the only ones struggling.
So when you see a man constantly sizing himself up against others, remember, he might be battling with his self-esteem. It’s not a competition; it’s a call for understanding and empathy.
While it’s common knowledge that individuals with perfectionist traits have high standards, it may come as a surprise that they often struggle with low self-esteem.
Perfectionists are never satisfied with good enough – everything has to be just right or it’s a complete failure. This all-or-nothing mentality often leaves them feeling dissatisfied and unhappy, even when they’ve accomplished something great.
It’s a destructive cycle that feeds into feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness.
5) Need for validation
We all enjoy a bit of validation every now and then – it’s human nature. But for men with low self-esteem, the need for validation might go beyond the occasional ego boost. Here’s why.
People with low self-esteem may have a deep-seated need for acceptance. Seeking approval from others becomes a way to feel acknowledged and valued. They’re looking for others to tell them they’re good enough because they struggle to believe it themselves.
What’s more, seeking approval can be a way to avoid or escape negative emotions peculiar to low self-esteem, such as shame, guilt, or self-doubt. Receiving positive feedback from others can briefly alleviate these unpleasant emotions.
But here’s the kicker: external validation is like a drug that makes you feel good temporarily but will always leave you wanting for more. This continual need for external validation can be exhausting for both the person seeking it and those around them.
6) Self-deprecating humor
Few things can bring people together like humor. But for some men with low self-esteem, humor can also become a defense mechanism.
On the surface, people who put themselves down to amuse others might come across as simply good-natured. But dig a little deeper, and you might find that these jokes are a cover for their feelings of inadequacy.
“People using themselves as the butt of jokes is often a technique to get approval from others, but it can also signify that something more worrying is going on in that person’s life,” said Jane Ogden, Professor of Health Psychology at the University of Surrey. “This type of humor can indicate that a person is struggling with their body image and self-esteem, which can have a long-lasting effect on their life.”
So, should we be concerned when our men can’t stop punning?
Not necessarily. If your man loves to crack jokes about himself, let him be. But keep in mind that sometimes, beneath the laughter and the silliness, there might be a cry for help.
7) Difficulty accepting compliments
Now, this is something I’ve noticed in people around me and even in myself at times. When someone struggles with low self-esteem, accepting compliments becomes a real challenge.
Instead of gracefully accepting the praise, they might dismiss it, downplay it, or even counter it with a negative about themselves. “Oh this old thing, it’s nothing special,” or “I don’t know why you think I did great, I could have done so much better.”
This difficulty stems from their belief that they aren’t deserving of the compliment or that the person offering it is just being nice. They might struggle to see their own worth and dismiss any evidence to the contrary.
8) Avoidance of confrontation
Confrontation is never easy. Many of us would prefer to avoid it whenever possible. But for men with low self-esteem, avoidance might go beyond the occasional uncomfortable situation.
They might consistently avoid confrontations, even when it’s necessary or beneficial to address the issue at hand. They might fear that standing up for themselves or expressing their opinion will lead to rejection or conflict.
This can result in them suppressing their feelings and needs, which only serves to further erode their self-esteem.
9) Fear of failure
The fear of failure can be paralyzing, especially for those with low self-esteem. They might avoid taking risks or trying new things because they’re scared of not doing well.
They might associate failure with a confirmation of their inadequacy, rather than seeing it as a natural part of life and a chance to learn and grow.
So, if you see a man consistently avoiding risks due to fear of failure, he might be dealing with low self-esteem.
Final thoughts: It’s about empathy, not judgement
Understanding the nuances of human behavior is a complex task. When it comes to low self-esteem, it can manifest in various ways, often hidden behind seemingly confident actions and behaviors.
These behaviors are not signs of weakness but rather cries for understanding and empathy.
Recognizing these behaviors in men around us allows us to offer support, understanding, and perhaps aid them in their journey towards self-acceptance and improved self-esteem.
At the end of the day, we are all battling own demons, aren’t we? Therefore, let’s approach each other with kindness and empathy, for we never know what someone else is going through.
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