9 Subtle Signs Of Low Self-Esteem

Updated on September 7, 2021 by Reena Goenka.

shy woman with low self esteem

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woman with very low self esteem

When you are feeling you are not good enough or may have doubts about your achievement abilities, you may be dealing with low self-esteem.  As a result, you may lack confidence in various situations and feel incompetent. Usually, a person with low self-esteem likes to be by themselves and is afraid of making mistakes.

A good example will be of a student, who will not speak up in the class even though he/she knows the answers, because of the fear that others may have a better answer or others will look down upon them.

If you suffer from low self-esteem, it can affect your health, personal and professional life negatively. Low self-esteem is not a disease but rather your own frame of reference on how you view and feel about yourself.

Circumstances such as how you were brought up, where you lived, family genes may contribute to low self-esteem. For example, many of us as children have been compared to our siblings, school friends, or other people. As a child we may start feeling and thinking ‘I am not competent’ and ‘I am not good enough’. Though this belief was created as a child, it stays even in adulthood unless it is consciously worked on.

The main contributor to low self-esteem is one’s own lens of perspectives. If the mind and thoughts tell you that you are not worthy and do not deserve good things, you may be struggling with low self-esteem. Even though on the outside you may know your capabilities, negative thinking puts a sense of low self-worth.


How to Identify Low Self-Esteem


It is not a one-time process but, you can analyze some factors and realize if you are suffering from low self-esteem. Some of these indicators include:

  • Not trusting your own opinion – imagine you are in a group or a meeting discussing a topic and you hold back your opinion. You know you have a valid point but think it’s not worth it.
  • Afraid to take challenges because you are scared you will not overcome them and that you will fail. The fear in yourself that you are perhaps not competent or skilled may increase and this lets you pass up good opportunities. You fear that you are being judged by other people.
  • Many times you can be hard and harsh on yourself. For example, an internal dialogue,  “You (referring to yourself) are not doing a good job”. However, when you look at others, you may say, “Wow he/she is doing so well”.

A person with low self-esteem is not able to appreciate their own efforts.  They take things hard on themselves, blaming themselves for many things, and believe they are a failure. But, on the other hand, they have empathy for other people and understand their situation when faced with the same issues as them.

  • In extreme cases, you may start experiencing anxiety and emotional distress, and turmoil. For example, when you are feeling bad about yourself, and sentence like, “Why does this happen to me?” or you are feeling like a victim, you may start disliking yourself.


9 Signs of Low Self-Esteem


1. Lack of Confidence


Having confidence in one’s abilities assures you that you can rely on yourself to handle various situations. You experience trust in your own abilities and find it easier to tackle the ups and downs of life comfortably. On the contrary, having low self-esteem will lower confidence and the way you view everything that comes your way. Finding ways to regain self-confidence will improve your self-esteem and overall well-being.

woman feeling helpless


2. Lack of Control


Having control of one’s life is a great attribute. However, many times, especially if you are dealing with low self-esteem, you may feel that you have no power to control how to steer your life in the direction you would like it to go. You may think you have very few choices and you are unable to make the desired changes. Chances are you are discounting your own self and your abilities to achieve.

If you are reading and realizing that “maybe I am struggling with low self-esteem…”, this is the time to act and look at ways to empower yourself & get back the control of your life.


3. Negative Comparison


Though sometimes it can motivate people, most of the time social comparison leads to low self-esteem. As you compare yourself with others, and when you see yourself as a glass half empty, it may make you feel and think of yourself as inadequate and incompetent. You may believe that you are not good and others around you are better. Especially today, when social media has made many people have low self-esteem due to people comparing their life with what others are posting.

woman comparing her body to others


4. Inability To Face Problems By Yourself Rather than Asking for Help


If you are dealing with low self-esteem, you may find it hard to ask for what you need. In your mind, you may think you do not deserve any help. You may also be embarrassed to ask for help as you perceive others think of you as incompetent. Low self-regard may stop you from prioritizing your needs and talking about them with others.


5. Negative Self-talk


Normally, we love ourselves and talk nice about ourselves.

If you have low self-esteem, your inner conversation may sound like a criticizing Parent. For example, “you don’t know how to do things well”. You may not see much good about yourself and focus more on your flaws instead of strengths. When something happens, you will blame yourself for not doing enough, or for your appearance or your personality.


6. Negative Outlook On Life


Low self-regard causes people to have a lot of negative energy around them. You may believe you do not have a bright future and all is lost. The hopelessness may make it hard for you to think anything positive can happen in your life.


7. Trying Hard to Please Others


It is a common sign of low self-esteem. When the belief, “I am not good enough” is present, you will notice a conditional ok-ness about yourself.

“If I please others, I can be good.”

You may notice that you go out of your way to gain external validation by making other people happy and comfortable. It involves several things like being afraid of saying no, neglecting your needs, or feeling guilty if you say ‘no’.


8. Finding It Hard To Accept Positive Comments


As a child, chances are you were not praised for your abilities. You may have low self-esteem in some areas, like studies, or appearance, or skills. I have come across people who find it easier to accept praise, for areas they were praised as a child. For example, a good-looking person finds it easier to say, “thank you” if they are told, “you look beautiful” and the same person will scoff off praise like, “you are good at your job”. Maybe as a child, you were not given confidence in your abilities and skills, therefore, you discount it and do not trust any praise at all.

woman not accepting compliments


9. Having No Boundaries


Being able to set boundaries with other people is a respectable aspect. If you do not value yourself, you may face difficulties creating boundaries within your social circles. It happens because you fear rejection and being judged in case you establish a boundary.




Self-esteem is a vital ingredient to pursue your abilities, goals and improve self-love. It is normal to feel low at some point in life but, low self-esteem affects your happiness and can lead to serious mental health issues. Thank you for reading the blog. If you believe you may have traits of low self-esteem, or you know someone who may show them, do seek help to empower yourself. You need not stay with it, and you can live your life positively and full of self-confidence.

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