People who lack self-love often display these 9 behaviors (without realizing it)

It’s a harsh truth, but some people struggle with self-love.

A lack of self-love isn’t always easy to spot, as it often hides behind different behaviors, sometimes without the person even realizing it.

Understanding these behaviors can not only help you recognize if you’re struggling with self-love but also assist you in helping others who may be grappling with the same.

Here are 8 behaviors often displayed by people who lack self-love. You might be surprised to find how subtle yet revealing they can be.

1) Constant self-criticism

A common trait among individuals who lack self-love is the habit of constant self-criticism.

Those who struggle with self-esteem often see themselves through a harsh, unforgiving lens. They might dwell on their mistakes, magnify their flaws, and overlook their accomplishments and strengths.

It’s like having a personal critic in your head that never takes a break — always pointing out what’s wrong and rarely acknowledging what’s right.

This behavior can be destructive, eating away at one’s confidence and making it hard to accept compliments or positive feedback.

Recognizing this tendency for self-criticism is the first step towards cultivating self-love and silencing the internal critic.

2) Overcompensating through achievement

I’ve seen this behavior in myself at times. I would push myself to achieve more and more, believing that success and accomplishment could fill the gap created by a lack of self-love.

I’d obsess over my work, striving for perfection and constantly seeking recognition. Any accomplishment, no matter how significant, never felt enough. It was as if I was trying to prove my worth, not to others, but to myself.

Looking back, I realize that this overcompensation was a manifestation of my struggle with self-love. It was my way of seeking validation externally when what I really needed was to learn to value and accept myself internally.

This behavior can be draining and counterproductive. 

3) Neglecting self-care

People who struggle with self-love often neglect their own needs. In extreme cases, they may even disregard basic self-care practices like eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep.

This stems from a belief that they are not worth the time and effort of self-care. This behavior can lead to physical health issues, as well as mental and emotional health problems.

A study found a direct link between self-love and engaging in healthy behaviors. The research suggested that people who had higher levels of self-love were more likely to take better care of themselves and lead healthier lifestyles.

Understanding this connection can be a powerful motivator to start prioritizing self-care, not merely for physical health but as a form of self-respect and love.

4) Difficulty setting boundaries

People lacking in self-love often have a hard time setting and maintaining personal boundaries. They may find it challenging to say no to others, even when agreeing means neglecting their own needs or well-being.

This behavior stems from a fear of rejection or confrontation, and a desire to please others at their own expense. However, it can lead to feelings of resentment and being taken advantage of.

Learning to set healthy boundaries is a key step in cultivating self-love.

5) Seeking constant validation

Another behavior often displayed by people who lack self-love is the constant need for validation from others. They might constantly seek reassurance about their worth, their decisions, or their appearance.

This behavior is rooted in the belief that their worth is dependent on how others perceive them. It can lead to a vicious cycle of dependency where they are never fully satisfied with themselves unless they receive positive feedback from others.

Developing self-love involves learning to self-validate – to acknowledge and appreciate oneself without relying on the approval of others.

6) Engaging in negative self-talk

I’ve caught myself doing this more times than I’d like to admit. I’d mess up something small and find myself thinking, “You’re such an idiot,” or look in the mirror and say, “You look terrible today.”

Negative self-talk like this is a behavior commonly displayed by people who lack self-love. They become their own worst critic, often being harsher on themselves than they would ever be on someone else.

This self-deprecating inner dialogue can be damaging and perpetuate feelings of unworthiness.

Turning this around involves consciously choosing to speak to yourself with kindness and understanding, much like you would to a dear friend.

7) Tolerating mistreatment

People lacking self-love often tolerate mistreatment from others. They may put up with disrespectful or abusive behavior, thinking they deserve no better.

This tolerance can manifest in personal relationships, at work, or even in everyday interactions. It stems from a belief that their worth is dependent on others and that they must accept poor treatment to avoid conflict or rejection.

Recognizing one’s own worth and standing up against mistreatment is a vital step towards cultivating self-love.

Everyone deserves respect and kindness, and it’s crucial to remember this when interacting with others.

8) Avoiding their reflection

A potent sign of lacking self-love is avoiding one’s own reflection.

Whether it’s skipping mirrors, avoiding photos, or shying away from any reminder of their physical appearance, this behavior is an indication of deep-seated self-loathing.

This avoidance stems from a dissatisfaction with self-image and a fear of confronting their own perceived flaws.

Wrapping it up: Self-love is a journey

The path towards self-love is deeply personal and unique to each one of us. It’s an ongoing journey, not a destination.

If you recognize some of these behaviors in yourself, remember that it’s okay. Acknowledging these patterns is the first crucial step towards change.

A famous quote from renowned psychologist Carl Rogers rings true in this context: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

Self-love is about acceptance, kindness, and respect towards oneself. It’s about acknowledging your worth and standing up for your needs.

It’s a journey worth embarking on because at the end of the day, the relationship you have with yourself sets the tone for all other relationships in your life.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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