8 signs you’re a highly intelligent person with low self-esteem

We all have our insecurities, some more than others. Even when we’re clearly gifted in various ways.

And highly intelligent people are also no stranger to having insecurities, which can impact their self-esteem.

This could stem from the pressure to perform or having expectations thrust upon them.

It could also be due to insecurities that they have yet to overcome. 

Are you someone who constantly questions your self-worth, even though you’re clearly capable of delivering results (in the field that you’re good at)?

Today, we’ll explore 8 signs that you may be someone who is actually highly capable, but just lacks confidence in your own abilities.

1) You owe your successes to luck.

When you achieve a milestone, do you find yourself attributing your success to luck? You may have put in considerable time and effort into a particular project but overall, you feel that your abilities alone would not have been able to bring you much success.

You may tell others that perhaps it was just your lucky day and the stars aligned to enable you to achieve this success.

As a result, you constantly downplay your abilities and may also underestimate what you can actually do. Despite having a track record of projects and achievements that you have completed or spearheaded on your own, you’re unable to see the value that you bring to the table.

Even when people around you speak highly about your abilities, you feel doubtful and feel that they’re exaggerating.

2) You’re always second-guessing yourself.

When presented with a problem, deep down, or by reflex, you know how to approach the issue and achieve the right answer. However, once you let yourself think further, you start second-guessing yourself.

You end up overthinking and overanalyzing everything as doubts start to form in your mind. You start weighing the pros and cons of each solution, feeling hesitant about taking the next step. 

As such, something that may have been solved in a shorter amount of time gets dragged out for too long. It may also impact your productivity and efficiency because you’re unable to confidently approach an issue with the knowledge that you can solve it.

While it’s important to carefully evaluate decisions, going to the other extreme can be more harmful than good.

3) You lack confidence.

Overall, you lack confidence. There’s a nagging thought at the back of your mind that you’re not good enough, and that you may never be good enough.

Not only does this impact your education or career, but it could also spill over to the way you interact with others. It could potentially impact your relationships, dating life, and people’s overall perception of you.

Over time, this could lead to missed opportunities just because you felt that you weren’t the right one for that person, that job, or that role. 

We’re never right 100% of the time and it’s normal to make mistakes. It’s how we learn and grow.

Building one’s confidence starts with accepting that failure is a part of the learning process.

4) You find it tough to accept compliments from others.

Having low self-esteem also makes it tough for someone to accept compliments from others. 

Perhaps it stems from the internalized idea that they’re not good enough. When someone compliments you, are you often at a loss for words? Do you feel uncomfortable and aren’t sure what to do in response? 

Maybe you struggle to find the right way to respond, but often resort to deflecting, smiling awkwardly and perhaps mumbling a thank you.

Someone with low self-esteem often causes a person to feel undeserving of the praise that they receive.

5) You suffer from Imposter Syndrome.

Another sign that someone has low self esteem is that they suffer from imposter syndrome.

Despite your certifications and extensive experience, do you feel like you don’t deserve the successes that you’ve had?

Perhaps you were recognized at your job for your excellent work and your supervisors decided to promote you, or you were headhunted to join a more prestigious firm. 

However, you find that there’s this nagging thought at the back of your mind telling you that you don’t deserve this role.

You may also feel inferior to the people around you, although you’re clearly good enough.

6) You chase perfectionism.

Yet, despite your insecurities, you know that you’re able to deliver results. And this is why you set high standards for yourself – standards that you know you’re likely to meet.

However, when these standards become impossibly high, it can negatively affect how you perceive yourself. 

Rather than driving you towards success, chasing perfectionism can backfire and create more doubt about your abilities – despite performing exceptionally well.

7) You compare yourself with others.

They say comparison is the thief of joy, and this is especially true when one uses others as a benchmark to determine their worth.

I used to know a colleague who constantly compared her performance with others. She’s great at her job, and anyone can see that.

But she’s somehow unable to see her self-worth for what it is, without comparing herself to the people around her. 

This caused her to get unnecessarily insecure around others.

She’ll get anxious when there are new joiners to the team – even though she’s a seasoned employee, and feel really inferior when someone does a better job, although she’s clearly more skilled than the rest.

As a result, despite her capabilities, she left because of the unnecessary stress that she placed upon herself – all because she wasn’t able to see her worth.

8) You have difficulty making decisions.

Because you’re always second-guessing yourself, do you find that you have difficulty making decisions?

While bigger, more complex decisions may require more deliberation, your insecurity can cause you to overthink smaller decisions. 

This fear can cripple your ability to move forward and make important choices in your life. 

It could also impact your relationships with others if you’re constantly overanalyzing situations, and cause unnecessary stress on your life. 


Although having high intelligence doesn’t mean a person is likely to have higher self-esteem, it’s still important to have a healthy perception of oneself.

If you relate to the abovementioned signs, you may suffer from low self-esteem.

While this can take some time to work on, try building your self-compassion and improving the way you see yourself. You’re a lot more capable than you think.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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