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7 Warning Signs of Low Self Esteem and Lack of Confidence

 Being confident in yourself is one of the most important, and most challenging, traits to have. Self-confidence can fuel success, while low self-esteem can impede it. Even if you struggle with self-esteem issues, it’s probably not something you’d want to broadcast or the kind of impression that you’d like to give people. 

There is a certain set of behaviors, habits, and patterns that not only make you seem insecure, they also perpetuate that feeling in your mind. To start changing the way you and others perceive yourself, and raise your self-esteem, it is important to acknowledge these habits and swap them for alternative healthier ones. These are 7 signs that can point to low self-esteem.

1. Being overly positiveWarning Signs of Low Self Esteem, positivity

Having a sunny outlook on life is great, don’t get us wrong. In some cases, however, the need to put a positive spin on everything is a veil for a feeling of insecurity or low self-esteem. Talking to your loved ones openly and honestly about frustrating experiences or emotions sends the message you are confident enough, and trust them enough, to admit that not everything is perfect. 

Moreover, being overly positive and refusing to look at what’s not going well has a destructive downside that leads to avoiding the truth. If you numb yourself into a sense of OK-ness, you can’t really solve the problems in your life and raise your confidence. 

Related: Toxic Positivity: Signs and Avoidance

2. Excessive perfectionismWarning Signs of Low Self Esteem, frustrated woman cleaning

Some perceive the need to always achieve perfection, or perfectionism, as a sign of confidence - someone with such high expectations of themselves must really believe in their abilities, right? Well, not always. Being overly perfectionist can be a manifestation of fear of failure. This will lead a person to ‘get stuck’ on a task, trying to get that perfect unattainable result, and stop them from making actual progress. 

For example, if you’re about to have some friends over, you may feel stressed that the house isn’t clean enough. Instead of taking 30 minutes to tidy up and make the place look welcoming, you might spend hours on an unnecessary deep clean. If you have very high standards, try to reflect on them, and understand where they are coming from and whether they take a toll on the way you feel about yourself.

3. Constantly bragging about your accomplishmentsWarning Signs of Low Self Esteem, woman getting applause

Social media has made sharing the best moments of our lives easier than ever. Every visit to a beautiful destination, a nice meal, academic achievements, and so on can be broadcast to the world at the push of a button. Constantly having to remind others how great your life is can easily defeat the purpose, and actually point to a sense of insecurity, low self-esteem, and a need for external reassurance that you are, indeed, great. 

Sharing the occasional celebratory moment is perfectly fine, as long as your self-worth isn’t affected by the praise or jealousy of others. Your real friends and your family love you for who you are, and sometimes, taking a break from trying to impress strangers and acquaintances can do wonders for your self-esteem and inner peace. 

Related: 10 Ways to Boost Your Self Worth

4. Trouble saying noWarning Signs of Low Self Esteem, frustrated man on the phone

Those with low self-esteem have trouble believing that people will like them for who they are, so they try to ‘give’ people reasons to like them. Being a yes-man means always being available to lend a hand or do whatever others ask of you, putting their needs in front of your own. Of course, some of it comes from being nice and wanting to be helpful, but a big part of it comes from wanting to please people. 

Every time you help another person, but it comes at the expense of your own needs or prior commitments, you send a message to your subconscious that you are less important, or not important at all. Learning to say no and setting healthy boundaries is essential for building up your self-esteem.

5. Constantly seeking validationWarning Signs of Low Self Esteem, friends shopping

Being anxious and indecisive about your choices, asking for your friends' opinions too frequently - those are some forms of seeking validation. It can be about simple decisions like which coat to buy, or what restaurant to go to or it can be the reassurance that something that you feel or think is appropriate. Getting ‘approval’ from others can make you feel like you’re ‘free’ from the burden of deciding, and possibly making the ‘wrong’ decision. 

In the long run, however, it does the opposite of setting you free. By not trusting yourself, you signal to others and yourself that you’re unable to handle different situations. 

Related: 9 Habits All Assertive People Share

6. CatastrophizingWarning Signs of Low Self Esteem, anxious man

Catastrophizing can be defined as ruminating about irrational worst-case outcomes. If you have a tendency for catastrophic thinking, it is bound to affect your self-esteem, and the insecurity feeds the cycle of anxiety. Some examples of catastrophizing are: “If my partner leaves me, I will never find anyone else, and I will never be happy again,” or “If I don’t recover quickly from this procedure, I will never get better, and I will be disabled my entire life.”

Overcoming such thoughts can be difficult. The advice of several mental health experts is: try to put your experience into perspective. When becoming aware that you’re engaged in catastrophic thinking you should counter that thinking by adopting a reasonable perspective on what’s going on. Remind yourself that if you’re in pain this morning, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be in pain every single morning, for example. And of course, you can always seek the help of a professional if you feel you need it. 

7. Rejecting complimentsWarning Signs of Low Self Esteem, woman receiving compliment

A new study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that people with low self-esteem have the most difficulty accepting compliments. If you think you're somehow flawed, or you believe that you aren't good enough, you might have trouble understanding how others can say such kind things about you

Instead of graciously accepting the compliment you may say something like, “I was just doing what I had to do” or “It wasn’t me, it was a team collaboration”. Slowly changing that habit could have a very positive effect on your self-esteem.

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