People with low self-esteem display these 9 behaviors (without realizing it)

Navigating the complexities of self-esteem can be tricky. Often, people with low self-esteem project certain behaviors without even realizing it.

The difference here is awareness. Unknowingly displaying low self-esteem can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, causing further damage to one’s self-belief.

Recognizing these behaviors, however, paves the way for understanding and improvement. It’s not about criticizing or blaming; it’s about identifying patterns that might be holding you back.

In this article, we’ll delve into 9 behaviors often displayed by people with low self-esteem. 

Let’s get started. 

1) Constant self-criticism

It’s a common human trait to self-reflect and find areas for improvement. But for individuals with low self-esteem, this reflection often turns into relentless self-criticism.

This negative self-talk is akin to having a hostile critic in your head, constantly pointing out your flaws and inadequacies.

The irony is that people exhibiting this behavior are usually unaware of its intensity and frequency. They may believe they’re just being realistic or holding themselves to higher standards.

Understanding this behavior is the first step to challenging it. Recognizing that constant self-criticism isn’t productive, nor reflective of one’s true worth, can be a significant leap towards healthier self-esteem.

Keep an eye out for this behavior in yourself and others – it might be indicating low self-esteem that’s lurking beneath the surface.

2) Over-apologizing

I’ve found myself in situations where “I’m sorry” seems like my default response. Whether it’s for minor inconveniences or even things that are not my fault, I’d apologize.

The act of over-apologizing is often linked to low self-esteem. It’s as if you’re continually saying, “I’m sorry for being me.”

I remember a time when I bumped into a chair in a crowded cafe. Instead of moving on, I found myself apologizing to the chair! It was an unconscious act, a behavior I wasn’t even aware of until a friend pointed it out.

Reflecting on these moments made me realize that over-apologizing was a way of making myself smaller, less noticeable. It was an attempt to ensure I wasn’t ‘disturbing’ anyone. But in reality, it was an indication of low self-worth.

Apologies have their place, but not as a default response to life’s everyday occurrences.

3) Difficulty accepting compliments

People with low self-esteem often struggle to accept compliments. Instead of receiving praise with gratitude, they may deflect it, downplay their achievements, or outright reject it.

This behavior stems from a belief that they are unworthy or that the compliment is insincere. For them, it can be easier to believe in their shortcomings than to accept their positive attributes.

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that people with low self-esteem feel more comfortable when their negative self-view is confirmed, leading them to react unfavorably to compliments.

This understanding can help us respond more empathetically when someone brushes off a compliment. It’s not an act of false modesty; it may be a sign of low self-esteem.

4) Fear of failure

One of the most common behaviors exhibited by people with low self-esteem is a crippling fear of failure. They often avoid taking risks or stepping out of their comfort zone, in fear of underperforming or being judged.

This fear can hold them back from pursuing their true passions and interests or taking on new challenges. They may end up settling for less than they deserve, simply because they’re too scared to try.

Failure isn’t a measure of self-worth, but an opportunity for growth and learning. Once we understand this, we can start moving past our fears and towards our goals.

5) Negative body language

Body language can often be a tell-tale sign of a person’s self-esteem. Those with low self-esteem tend to exhibit closed-off body language, such as crossed arms, slumped shoulders, or avoiding eye contact.

These non-verbal cues are typically unconscious but can reveal a lot about how a person perceives themselves. They may feel the need to physically ‘shrink’ themselves or avoid drawing attention.

By becoming aware of these patterns in our own body language, we can consciously make changes and project more confidence, which in turn can help in boosting our self-esteem.

6) Difficulty expressing needs and desires

It can be incredibly challenging for people with low self-esteem to articulate their needs and desires. They may feel that their feelings are unimportant or that they don’t deserve to have their needs met.

This can often lead to feelings of resentment and frustration, as their needs go unfulfilled. It’s a heartbreaking situation, knowing that someone is suppressing their desires out of a belief that they’re unworthy.

Understanding this behavior can encourage a more open dialogue around needs and desires. It’s crucial to remember that everyone’s feelings are valid, and we all have the right to express our needs without fear of judgement or rejection.

7) Perfectionism

Every time I started a new project or task, I’d find myself striving for absolute perfection. It felt like anything less than perfect was a failure.

This relentless pursuit of perfection is often linked to low self-esteem. It’s as if making a mistake or not reaching that high standard would confirm my deepest fears about myself.

But I learned that perfectionism, more often than not, leads to procrastination and anxiety. It’s a mask for fear of failure or judgment.

Realizing this has allowed me to strive for progress, not perfection, and it’s made a world of difference in how I approach tasks. It can do the same for anyone struggling with similar issues.

8) Trouble saying “no”

People with low self-esteem often find it hard to say “no” even when they genuinely want to. They may fear disappointing others, being seen as unkind, or facing conflict.

This behavior can lead to overcommitment, stress, and resentment as they continually put other people’s needs and wants before their own.

Saying “no” is not a sign of selfishness, but a necessary practice for maintaining our mental health and well-being.

9) Comparing themselves to others

The most destructive behavior linked with low self-esteem is the constant comparison with others. In today’s digital era, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of measuring our worth against someone else’s highlight reel.

This comparison can fuel feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. It’s a cycle that feeds on itself, diminishing self-esteem even further.

Breaking free from this comparison trap is crucial for rebuilding self-esteem. Each one of us is unique, with our own strengths and weaknesses. Embracing this individuality is key to fostering a healthier sense of self-worth.

Final thoughts: It’s a journey

The voyage towards self-esteem is undeniably complex and deeply personal. It’s a journey that takes time, patience, and self-compassion.

Understanding these behaviors linked with low self-esteem is an important step towards self-improvement. It’s like shining a light on the shadows that have been hiding in our subconscious.

Remember, it’s never about blaming oneself for these behaviors but about recognizing them as indicators of something that needs our attention and care.

As the renowned psychologist Carl Rogers once said, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” This acceptance is the foundation for building healthier self-esteem.

So here’s to accepting ourselves, flaws and all, and embarking on a journey towards nurturing our self-worth. It’s a path worth taking because you are worth it.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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