12 signs someone is silently struggling with self-esteem issues

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You might find it hard to believe but anyone—anyone!— can struggle with self-esteem issues.

Yes, that includes the rich CEOs, the supermodels, the president of the USA, and the funny guy who’s always the life of the party.

Self-esteem is about how one views oneself, after all (it’s internal) so we’d never know for sure based on what we see on the surface.

But some of them will give subtle hints, no matter how hard they try to hide it.

Here are 12 signs someone is silently struggling with self-esteem issues.

1) They’re a bit paranoid

People who struggle with low self-worth are convinced there’s something wrong with them. And because of this, they’re always anxious about how others think about them.

They’d wonder “What if they don’t really love me? After all, I’m not really that lovable.”

Or they’d think “My friends secretly hate me. I’m sure”, because why would people want to be friends with them?

It can get so bad that even if they see people laughing, they’d assume they’re laughing about them.

2) They push people away

Because they have a suspicion that people don’t like them so much, they push them away. They’d rather reject them first than be the one who gets rejected. 

Rejection is their greatest fear, after all.

So how does this translate to their day-to-day interactions?

Well, they wouldn’t want to get too close to someone. They set up a huge wall so people won’t have the power to destroy them.

You’d have to bring heaven down to earth and earn their trust before they’d even let you an inch closer.

3) They’re secretive

Some people are tight-lipped because they just don’t like sharing too much. Perhaps they think it’s self-absorbed or unnecessary. We’re not talking about those people. They’re probably not insecure.

Someone with self-esteem issues would want to share but then they worry people would not like them once they get to know them better.

When they’re tempted to share, they think “What if they’ll think I’m stupid if I told them I didn’t finish college?” or “What if they’ll think I’m a nymphomaniac if I tell them I had ten partners in the past?”

They struggle with liking themselves and accepting who they are.

So they’d rather remain a mystery and just encourage others to talk some more.

4) They love gossip

But not just any kind of gossip, they like listening to other people’s misfortunes!

It gives them comfort and a certain kind of high that other people have it worse than them. 

It’s strange because they’re not even suffering in any way—they might even be successful and their ducks are in a row. 

It’s just that people with self-esteem issues just don’t see right. They always think they’re not good enough.

So when they hear about a colleague who got fired, they’d go “Oh no! How’s that possible?!” But deep inside, they feel relieved (and elated) that it’s not them.

Gossip is a delicious treat to someone struggling with self-esteem issues. It reminds them that they’re not as bad as they think they are.

5) They want special treatment

If you didn’t wave a hello to them because you’re in a rush or you simply didn’t see them, they’d assume it’s because you don’t like them.

If you don’t prepare snacks for them when they visit your apartment, they’d feel like you didn’t care enough because YOU think they’re unworthy.

Basically, they’re very high maintenance

Any sign of you “not treating them right” would lead to them giving you a cold shoulder. And they’d distance themselves.

It’s not you, it’s them and their self-esteem issues.

6) They’re always right

You might think someone with low self-esteem has a lot of self-doubt—that they’d say things like “Uhmm, I’m not sure” or “I guess? But I could be wrong.”

You’d be surprised that many of them are actually haughty and defensive…so they want to project that they’re smart. 

This usually happens if they’ve experienced some kind of bullying. Maybe a long time ago people laughed at their ideas or they got teased for being “stupid” or “slow”.

So when someone questions their opinions, they’d think they’re being attacked.

Don’t even try to reason out with them because they won’t acknowledge you’re right even if the proof is right in front of them.

7) They can’t take a joke

They take every little thing soooo personally that you’d be digging your own grave if you say anything about the things they’re insecure about.

You joke about how messy their apartment is, and they’d be flustered. 

They won’t take it lightly because for them, you’re not just joking about their apartment, you’re also saying that they’re irresponsible, unreliable, lazy, and basically a loser.

You comment about how they look like James Bond in their outfit, and they’d tell you to shut the f*ck up because you’re not handsome either! (As if James Bond is not handsome).

Yeah, people with deep self-esteem issues can be strange like that.

If you enjoy making jokes, you’d be walking on eggshells when you’re with them. Not fun.

8) They can’t take a compliment

Because people who silently struggle with self-esteem issues don’t think of themselves as worthy of anything, they’d assume people are simply PRETENDING to like them.

In other words, they always assume people are just being fake-nice when they praise them.

They might even sometimes assume that people are just telling them nice things because they’re manipulating them.

It sucks because there’s very little you can do to convince them your compliments are genuine.

How can they believe it when they simply don’t believe they’re good?

9) Everything is about them

You talk about your life problems. A few seconds later, they’re hogging the limelight—they’re talking about THEIR problems!

You talk about your accomplishments. They’ll congratulate you and then gradually transition to THEIR accomplishments.

You might think “Huh? Self-esteem issues yet they’re full of themself?” 

Again, it might surprise you but the most insecure people are the ones who are most self-absorbed.

Perhaps, it’s because, once upon a time, they’re often ignored and so they found a way to advocate for themselves—by making themself the center of everything. 

10) They’re highly competitive

People who struggle with self-esteem issues have this need to prove to everyone that they’re actually good (even if no one thinks they’re “bad” anyway).

They want to win at everything—from snagging a girlfriend to getting an award for what they do.

They think that it’s all they need to erase their crippling self-doubt, but of course they’re wrong. They’d want more and more as their “awards” start to feel less and less valid to them!

And this is also the reason why they’re a spoil sport. They hate losing at anything because it adds salt to their self-inflicted wounds!

11) They struggle expressing what they truly feel

Many people with self-esteem issues are not only secretive, they also have poor communication skills.

This leads them to a lot of misunderstanding with others.

They’d deflect, they’d become passive-aggressive, they’d even lie because they simply can’t express what’s really bothering them.

After all, it’s embarrassing to say, “I’m moody because I got hurt when you said my feet look strange.” Or, “I’m jealous because I think your colleague is hotter than me.”

You would have to be the bigger person and tell them “Please, let’s have an honest conversation. I won’t judge you” before they’d start opening up.

12) They’re nice—in fact, too nice

And they’re the way they are because they’re people-pleasers.

They usually struggle to NOT give a f*ck what others think, so they always try their best to be liked…by everyone!

They’re excessive with their praises. They’d say “OMG, you’re really the best!” or “I can’t believe you’re my friend/boss/.”

They’d also go above and beyond at whatever it is they’re assigned to do. They’d stretch themselves too thin just to hear “You’re awesome”.

All they really want is to feel like they belong—that people actually accept them for who they are (except well, the problem is that what they’re showing isn’t really who they are).


Based on this list, do you think someone you know is struggling with self-esteem issues (It can even be you!)? 

If so, be a little tender and understanding towards them. 

Trust me, as someone who’s insecure since birth, it’s not easy. I keep wrestling with myself because it affects my relationships and how I make decisions.

So instead of castigating or looking down on them for having low self-esteem issues, be the person who shows them their real worth.

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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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