13 signs you’re a high achiever with low self-worth

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Are you able to celebrate your wins? 

How do you feel when you are praised for achieving something difficult and specialized? 

When we see someone slaying it in life, we tend to think that they are delighted with themselves and enjoying their success. 

But sadly, this isn’t true of many high achievers. 

Some extremely accomplished people are riddled with self-doubt. 

They simply don’t feel worthy of their achievements, as if they are not justified.  

And this is unfortunate, because the root of their inability to enjoy their success is their low self-worth.  

So, how do you know if you fit the bill? And why do these indicators manifest as they do?   

Here are 13 signs you’re a high achiever with low self-worth. 

1) You’re always swamped

It’s no surprise that high achievers are among the most productive people out there. 

However, the difference between different types of high achievers is that those with low self-worth tend to overcommit themselves. 

If this sounds like you, you probably take on more responsibilities and put way more pressure on yourself than a high achiever with high self-worth who will be more discerning about what they commit to.  

This is because you believe that if you’re not being extremely productive all the time, you’re underperforming.  

But remember, just because you’re not flat out all the time doesn’t mean you’re not at the top of your game!  

And because you overwork in one (or more) areas of your life… 

2) You tend to neglect yourself

High achievers with low self-worth must sacrifice time and effort in other areas, i.e. your personal needs and sometimes self-care

And unfortunately, overworking can lead you to burnout which can put your mental and physical health at risk, as well as ultimately impeding your productivity.  

So, take care to take your personal space and invest in yourself from time to time.  

Your ultimate performance relies on it!  

3) You often feel like you don’t belong

Ever feel like a bit of an outsider, even though you’ve proven yourself? 

You’ve heard of imposter syndrome… well despite attaining excellence in their chosen area, high achievers with low self-worth feel like phoneys. 

Deep down they simply don’t feel worthy of their accomplishments, and think they are somehow fooling others into thinking they are as competent as they appear.  

Like the reverse of the Dunning Kruger effect, you probably feel that no matter how expert you become, you still have so much more to learn.  

And while you’re not wrong in this assertion, your deep-seated fear of being a fraud means you end up doubting the merit of your achievements. 

You’re not being fair on yourself.  

4) You second-guess yourself all the time

Another sign of a high achiever with low self-worth is that they will doubt themselves, a lot. 

Regardless of other people’s regard for their competence, they will nit-pick, overthink, and obsess.  

This is because their low self-worth leads them to doubt their judgement and abilities.  

Replaying conversations in their minds, scrutinizing their actions or comments when around others, and being self-conscious in general are signs of this.  

So, if you find yourself second and third guessing yourself all the time, chances are you are an accomplished person who doesn’t trust yourself as much as you should.

And from grappling with the past to determining the future… 

5) You avoid making decisions

Do you struggle with big decisions?  

And agonize over decisions you’ve made in the past, not sure if they were the correct ones? 

Ever outsource crucial decisions to others, or just “see what happens”? 

Not taking control of your decision making is a sign of low self-worth, even if you are a high achiever, because it another result of doubting your judgement and abilities.  

Deep down you feel incompetent and don’t trust yourself to decide things that will impact your life. 

But remember that avoiding decisions is a decision, and rarely a good one! 

6) You don’t ask for or accept support

Be honest, are you able to ask for support when you need it? 

Or do you feel that if you do people will think you’re weak or incapable? 

Even the most proficient people need help sometimes, and this doesn’t reflect badly on them at all. 

In fact, seeking support is a sign of confidence and self-belief, which probably explains why high achievers with low self-worth tend to avoid it.

So, if you feel like you must handle everything on your own, ask yourself why this is. 

Perhaps it’s because your low self-worth makes you feel ashamed and unworthy of support.  

7) Attention embarrasses you

How do you feel when being praised for something you’ve worked hard to achieve? 

Do you lap it up or does it feel fake and uncomfortable?  

Those who are highly accomplished but have low self-worth tend to be embarrassed by too much attention.

They are uncomfortable with praise and find compliments mortifying.  

This is because they don’t feel worthy of such positivity and can become paranoid that people are somehow being insincere.   

You may fall into this category if you are awkward when the focus is on you in a positive way. 

And yet, strangely… 

8) You need external validation

OK, this sounds like a paradox… well, it is! 

Although you are uncomfortable with praise, you also secretly yearn for it!  

This is because you’re lack of self-worth makes you seek constant validation from external sources.

You’re unable to give yourself credit because you have a low opinion of your own judgement and therefore look to others to calculate your worth. 

Not a good way to go.  

9) You’re terrified of failing

A pathological fear of failure can almost always be attributed to a lack of confidence.

You know you can learn from mistakes, but feeling like making one will cause others to lose their belief in you really means that you don’t believe in yourself.  

And despite being highly capable, your low self-worth means you don’t feel assured enough to tackle obstacles when they present themselves. 

Even though being a frontrunner should be proof enough in itself that you can!  

10) You always feel inferior

Regardless of the accolades they may acquire, successful people with low self-worth will always have a deep-seated inferiority complex

This can make them prone to be people-pleasers or pushover who struggle to set clear personal boundaries.  

Do you ever play your achievements or abilities down or subordinate to others when you have absolutely no reason to do so? 

It all comes down to not feeling enough as an individual.  

And this is also why…  

11) You see competition everywhere

It’s not a pleasant thing to admit to ourselves, and certainly not to anyone else… 

Do you constantly compare your achievements to others?  

Do you ever find yourself jealous of others that would consider you their peer (if not on a higher level to them)? 

If you’re the type of person who sees competition everywhere, even when you’ve proven your expertise, the chances are you are a high achiever who suffers from low self-worth. 

Otherwise, you wouldn’t be threatened by others.  

12) You don’t celebrate your achievements

You’ve just received the news that you’re being awarded for outstanding performance in your job.  

How do you feel? 

If your initial reaction is awkwardness, embarrassment, or even dread, you’re probably a high achiever with low self-worth.  

And it’s your inability to celebrate your successes that gives it away.  

Because your constant quest for perfection makes it impossible for you to delight in your wins.

And only seeing what you haven’t accomplished (as opposed to what you have) causes you to disbelieve in your success.  

This mentality also contributes to our final sign you’re a high achiever with low self-worth… 

13) You don’t allow yourself to slip up

Messing up hurts, even for people with healthy self-worth.  

And criticism is difficult; most of us struggle to absorb it in a positive way. 

But overachievers with low self-worth don’t forgive themselves when they make mistakes. 

They torture themselves afterwards, ruminating and replaying their mess-up for weeks and months (sometimes even years) on end.  

But they don’t apply their harshness to others and consider it natural for them to slip up, even a learning opportunity.  

So, if you are hard on yourself and blame yourself in the way, chances are you are a go-getter with low self-worth.  

Final thoughts 

If you’re a high achiever who struggles to see your own value, you view the world differently. 

Instead of recognizing how far they have come and appreciating your skills, you tend to focus on what they haven’t yet achieved, or what you have failed to do.  

Instead, try to give yourself some credit and improve your self-worth.

Niamh McNamara

A freelance writer fascinated with human nature and social dynamics, Niamh read literature, history, and philosophy at university before spending time in journalism and PR. Armed with a passion for words and ideas, and a healthy appreciation of the ridiculous, she tries to make sense of it all. Connect with Niamh on X @NBMcnamara123

People who have an intense fear of being cheated on usually share these 8 past experiences

If you want to be more successful as you get older, say goodbye to these 10 behaviors