20 warning signs of low self-confidence in a woman

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We constantly hear about how important it is to believe in yourself.

I don’t know about you, but I find my confidence comes and goes. Some days I’m feeling bolder and brighter than others.

I suspect that’s pretty common. 

But what if your self-esteem takes a serious nose dive? 

This article will run through the warning signs to watch out for. And I think some are going to surprise you, as they’re sneakier than you expect.

So let’s dive in!

1) You struggle to take a compliment

Many women have been taught to be modest. And that often means they will automatically refute words of praise or admiration.

But if recognition makes you cringe it’s worth considering why. Do you struggle to believe the kind words you are hearing?

As pointed out by psychologist and author Guy Winch:

“More often than not, our receptivity to compliments is a reflection of our self-esteem and deep feelings of self-worth. Specifically, compliments can make people with low self-esteem feel uncomfortable because they contradict their own self-views.”

2) You regularly criticize yourself

We all have an internal voice that talks to us throughout the day.

What does yours say?

Because self-criticism doesn’t necessarily need to play out around other people. We can be silently mean to ourselves, all within the confines of our minds.

If your inner critique is forever feeding you lines like:

  • You can’t wear that, you look ridiculous
  • Don’t even bother trying, that’s not going to work
  • You just made a total fool of yourself

…then your self-confidence may need some work.

3) You avoid looking in mirrors

You don’t like to look at yourself because you don’t feel good about the image staring back at you.

Rather than wear what you like, you prefer to keep your clothes low-key to avoid any attention.

In fact, there are plenty of things you’d love to wear but you remind yourself that you don’t have the figure for it, or that it probably won’t suit you.

4) You hate to have your picture taken without a filter

Who doesn’t want to look healthier, prettier, and generally more glowing in their snaps?!

But filter culture could be creating a bit of a problem. Research has revealed that filtering depletes self-esteem and distorts body image.

The researchers say: “Young women told us that these standards [of attractiveness] are ‘unattainable’ and ‘toxic’ and that they are wearing them down and making them unhappy.”

This distorted reality can leave you feeling like the way you look in real life isn’t good enough.

5) Your body language reveals telltale signs

The way we carry ourselves gives a lot of clues about how confident we’re feeling.

For most people, this will depend on the situation we’re in and who we’re with.

But if you generally exhibit these telltale signs in your body language, you may have low self-confidence:

  • Fidgeting
  • Crossing your arms
  • Slouching
  • Avoiding eye contact

6) You continue to beat yourself up when you make a mistake

When we get it wrong, we’re unlikely to feel good about it. But people with confidence bounce back.

One of the reasons is that they don’t dwell on it. They move on.

If you ruminate on and continue to replay even the smallest of slip-ups it is going to drag you down.

7) You are paranoid about what other people think of you

Do you always assume people are thinking badly of you?

Maybe you’re quick to think the worst if your boyfriend doesn’t text back straight away. Or you fear your friend must have fallen out with you when she says she’s too busy to hang out.

When we obsess about what others think of us it’s not narcissism at play, it’s a lack of self-confidence.

And this unhealthy fixture on other people’s opinions can lead to the next sign on our list.

8) You’re a self-confessed people pleaser

You’ll do anything for anyone. You just love to make people happy.

Or is it actually because you are scared of making anyone unhappy?

It’s a subtle but powerful difference.

One comes from kindness, whilst the other comes from low-self esteem.

9) You hate to disagree with anyone

I think many of us struggle with conflict. It can make us feel tense and uncomfortable.

I’m not suggesting having full-blown rows with ease is a sign of confidence. But avoiding any slight disagreements like the plague can be a sign of a lack of confidence.

Do you have the conviction to stand up for yourself?

10) You have ideas, but you keep them to yourself

You are shy at volunteering your thoughts and suggestions.

Even if you have something to contribute to a meeting, you would rather stay quiet.

You are too unsure whether your ideas are good enough to be shared.

11) You take even the smallest rejection to heart

It’s an unfortunate fact that rejection is painful. Even for confident women.

So it’s natural to dislike it.

But confidence helps us to handle it more graciously. Rather than spiral into a pit of self-loathing, we can then take it on the chin.

If you take any rejection incredibly personally you may begin to internalize it and blow it out of all proportion.

12) You get defensive very easily

When you have a habit of taking things to heart, something else can happen:

You look for a way to protect yourself. So defense mechanisms can kick in.

You can’t handle feedback, even when it’s well-meant and constructive.

A critique of any kind feels like a personal attack.

13) You can only relax at a party if you’re drinking

This is one of our more subtle signs on the list. Perhaps because alcohol is commonly used as a social lubricant.

It’s seen as normal to have a drink or two to help you relax. But it’s worth considering how we lean on substances as a crutch for our insecurities.

That’s why needing to have a drink in order to feel comfortable around people can be a reflection of your confidence levels.

14) You’re easily embarrassed about any of your weaknesses or flaws

Not one of us is perfect. We all have strengths and weaknesses.

But when we have low self-confidence, we tend to perceive our own weaknesses as worse than they really are.

Maybe you fixate on them. Perhaps you feel like you have to desperately hide them at all costs.

You may struggle to accept any help because you don’t want people to get close enough to see them.

15) You stick to your comfort zone

Confidence is what gives us the courage to put ourselves out there. It helps us to seize opportunities and dare to try new things.

Without it, you may make your world a smaller place —by sticking to the same routines and ways of doing things.

It feels safer that way, but it also stifles growth.

16) You’re known for your self-deprecating sense of humor

It’s good to be able to laugh at yourself but within reason.

Even when masquerading as humor, self-deprecation is still a put-down.

When you are always joking about yourself in a negative way, it’s not good for your self-esteem.

17) You feel like some people are fundamentally better than you

We’ve all felt a pang of the green-eyed monster.

Especially in the social-media era, it’s easy to look around and view other people’s life with envy.

But if you admire others because you think deep down they are better than you — that’s not healthy.

Extreme jealousy or idolizing people is a way of putting your own life down. Maybe that’s because you cannot see how great you really are.

18) You overlook your achievements and successes

Low self-confidence keeps us focused on the negatives. So we may not give ourselves credit where credit is due.

There’s nothing wrong with striving to do better. But it cannot come at the expense of self-recognition.

You have to be able to acknowledge your efforts and even the little wins. This is what builds confidence and sets us up for even more success in the future.

19) You have mushy boundaries

Allowing people to walk all over you can be a strong sign that you are lacking in confidence.

Poor boundaries arise when we put the needs and wants of others before our own.

You may feel like people don’t respect your space, time, or feelings. But are you respecting your own?

When our confidence is dented, we can find it harder to enforce the boundaries that should be protecting us.

20) You struggle to make decisions

When you don’t trust yourself, you second-guess yourself. Rather than make decisions confidently, you end up frozen.

You’re scared that you will make the “wrong” choice. You worry about the consequences.

It’s not necessarily that confident women make better decisions.

But they are bold enough to decisively do so as they believe in themselves and their own judgment. 

Final thoughts: Making friends with yourself

In many ways, the relationship we have with ourselves is like any other:

It’s not perfect.

We’ll have days when it feels strained or frustrating.

But cultivating a strong and loving connection with yourself is the best friendship you will ever make.

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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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