8 ways you’re ruining your own self-esteem without realizing it, according to psychology

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If you’ve ever felt like your self-esteem is in the gutter, you’re not alone.

I’ve been there, and it’s not fun.

You might not even realize it, but there could be habits you’re engaging in that are unknowingly dragging your self-esteem down.

According to psychology, some of these habits can easily fly under the radar. They might seem harmless, but in reality, they can have a significant impact on your self-esteem.

In this article, we’re going to dive into this topic further and share those sneaky ways you might be sabotaging your own self-esteem without even realizing it.

1) Over-apologizing for everything

If you’re always saying sorry, even when you’ve done nothing wrong, it’s time to take a step back and reassess.

This is a habit that might seem trivial, but it’s actually a subtle way of undermining your own self-esteem.

Apologies are necessary when you’ve genuinely made a mistake or hurt someone’s feelings. However, excessive apologizing could be a sign that you’re taking on responsibility for things that aren’t your fault.

You might find yourself saying sorry for things like someone else’s bad mood, the weather, or even a delay in public transport. 

This can make you feel as though you’re always in the wrong and can lead to feelings of guilt and inadequacy.

The constant need to apologize could be an indicator that you’re not valuing yourself enough.

This doesn’t mean you should stop apologizing altogether. You just need to understand the difference between an apology that is genuinely needed and one that is merely a knee-jerk reaction to feeling uncomfortable or guilty.

This understanding can be a significant first step towards boosting your self-esteem.

2) Constantly striving for perfection

While it may seem like a good thing, always striving for perfection can take a toll on your self-esteem.

Having high standards and setting ambitious goals can be motivating, but when it turns into perfectionism, it can become detrimental.

Perfectionism often leads to a fear of failure. It can make you overly critical of yourself and your achievements, causing you to overlook your progress and accomplishments.

You may end up dismissing your successes as not good enough because they didn’t meet your impossibly high standards.

Moreover, the stress and pressure of constantly trying to be perfect may leave you feeling drained and unfulfilled.

Rather than aiming for perfection, aim for progress. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem.

3) Negative self-talk

We all have an internal dialogue, and the way we talk to ourselves matters a lot.

If you’re frequently criticizing yourself and focusing on your flaws, you’re damaging your self-esteem.

This is something called The Illusory Effect, a phenomenon where our brains are more likely to believe false information if we hear it repeatedly.

So, when you constantly berate yourself with negative thoughts, your brain starts to accept them as truth.

It can lead to a vicious cycle where low self-esteem fuels more negative self-talk, which in turn lowers your self-esteem further.

The key here is to become aware of your self-talk and start challenging those negative thoughts. Try replacing them with positive affirmations or objective observations. 

4) Comparing yourself to others

It’s natural to look at others and wonder how you measure up. We all do it. But when it becomes a habit, it can be detrimental to your self-esteem.

Comparing yourself to others often only highlights what you perceive as your shortcomings. It’s easy to see people’s successes and forget about their struggles or the hard work they put in behind the scenes.

The truth is, everyone has their own unique journey and pace in life. And that includes you. Your worth is not determined by how you stack up against someone else.

It’s okay not to have it all figured out, or to be in the same place as someone else. You’re doing just fine.

You’re growing and learning at your own pace, and that’s more than enough. Your focus should be on your progress, not how it compares to others.

5) Dismissing compliments

Have you ever been complimented and immediately brushed it off or downplayed it? Perhaps you even redirected the praise back to the person who gave it to you.

This is something many of us do without realizing the impact it has on our self-esteem.

When you dismiss compliments, you’re essentially rejecting positive feedback about yourself. Over time, this can make it harder for you to recognize and accept your own worth.

The next time someone pays you a compliment, try to take a moment and really absorb it. You might not believe it at first, but with practice, you can start to shift your mindset and begin accepting the positive things people say about you.

It’s not that you’re being vain; you’re simply acknowledging your strengths and the things that make you uniquely you.

6) Ignoring your own needs

We’ve all been there. A friend calls in the evening asking for a favor, even though you’re exhausted and were just about to unwind.

You want to say no, but you end up saying yes to avoid feeling guilty or selfish.

While it’s great to be there for others, constantly sacrificing your own needs and wants can lead to burnout and undermine your self-esteem. It sends a message to yourself that your needs aren’t as important as those of others.

It’s okay to set boundaries and prioritize your own needs. Remember, self-care isn’t selfish, it’s essential. It’s only when you take care of yourself that you can truly be there for others.

Taking the time to fulfill your own needs can help build a stronger sense of self-worth and improve your self-esteem.

7) Avoiding challenges

Life is full of challenges, and facing them head-on can be scary. It’s tempting to dodge them, stick to what’s comfortable, and stay in your comfort zone.

But guess what? That’s not going to do your self-esteem any favors.

Avoiding challenges means missing out on opportunities for growth and success. Each challenge overcome is a victory that boosts your confidence and proves to yourself that you’re more capable than you thought.

It’s time to stop running from challenges and start embracing them. Yes, you might fail sometimes, and that’s okay.

Failure isn’t a reflection of your worth, it’s a part of the learning process. So step out of your comfort zone, face those challenges, and watch your self-esteem grow.

8) Not celebrating your accomplishments

Last but definitely not least, not acknowledging and celebrating your own accomplishments can chip away at your self-esteem.

Whether it’s a big project completion or simply sticking to your workout routine for a week, every achievement matters.

It’s too easy to move quickly onto the next task or goal without pausing to recognize what you’ve accomplished. But in doing so, you’re missing out on an opportunity to reinforce your self-worth and competence.

So take the time to celebrate your victories, no matter how small they might seem. Each one is a testament to your abilities and hard work. Not only does this create positive memories, but it also builds a strong foundation for your self-esteem.

You are capable and worthy, and every step you take towards recognizing that is a step in the right direction. Don’t forget to give yourself the credit you deserve!


Understanding and nurturing your self-esteem is a journey— one that requires patience, kindness, and self-awareness. It’s recognizing the habits that may be pulling you down and taking steps to change them.

This article is a guide to help you navigate this process, but ultimately, the path to improved self-esteem is personal and unique to you.

Remember, every step you take towards boosting your self-esteem, no matter how small, is progress. And it’s important to celebrate that.

In the end, fostering a healthy sense of self-worth means learning to value yourself for who you are. After all, there’s only one of you in the world.

Here’s to embracing that uniqueness and moving towards a life filled with self-confidence and happiness!

Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair is a former competitive athlete who transitioned into the world of wellness and mindfulness. Her journey through the highs and lows of competitive sports has given her a unique perspective on resilience and mental toughness. Ava’s writing reflects her belief in the power of small, daily habits to create lasting change.

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