Just to be clear, self-esteem is not self-confidence. Self- confidence is when you are confident in your abilities. For example, you can be confident at work and doing your job but have low self-esteem. Self-esteem is what you think of yourself at your core, internally and why it is the close companion of self-worth. There are many signs of low self-esteem but I will focus on these 10 signs of low self-esteem.
I chose these signs because I have personally experienced most of them and so have many other people. I believe that there is ONE common cause that lies beneath all of these low self-esteem signs, and I will explain that later.
But first I want to take a closer look at the definitions and examples of the following 10 signs of low self-esteem:
- Unhealthy or nonexistent personal boundaries
- Self-doubt Incl. difficulty making decisions
- Worried about what others think of you
- Seeks validation from others and sensitive to criticism
- Unable to finish projects or give up too soon
- Overly grooming before going out
- Afraid of failure and success
I want this post to be useful and beneficial to you and me. That said, I have added affiliate links to this article and would love it if you decide to use them. 😘
Having personal boundaries means you have communicated how you want to be treated by other people. In short, what behavior you will or will not allow from the people in your life. No boundaries or unhealthy boundaries allows people to do what they want, because you have not been clear on what YOU want by setting healthy boundaries. This is not about controlling other people, this is about teaching people how to treat you.
A person with nonexistent boundaries sees themselves through the eyes of other people. The way other people see them becomes the way they see themselves and consequently the other person’s needs become their needs. Sometimes, a person with no personal boundaries has no filter, they overshare and give a lot of personal information plus they usually find it difficult to say no. As you can imagine, with this combination of factors they literally leave themselves wide open to be taken advantage of.
Unhealthy and nonexistent boundaries are signs of a person with low self-esteem and low self-worth and can be one of four types:
- Physical Boundary- how close you allow someone to be, including who can touch you and under what circumstances.
I worked with a guy years ago that had no idea about personal space. When he spoke to me we were nose to nose, it was extremely uncomfortable. He did it with everyone and I never said anything to him. That was when I had low self-esteem and unhealthy boundaries.
I don’t work there anymore but I know that if it did happen now I would take him to one side and explain as Johnny did to Baby in Dirty Dancing “This is my dance space, this is your dance space.” I’d probably leave out the word dance though. 🙂
- Emotional – Having and expressing your feelings and not being put down for them.
If you are in a relationship where when you express how you are feeling you are told you shouldn’t feel like that or worse, your feelings are disregarded completely, this is an emotional boundary-crossing. Or you’re “managed” by your partner and told what you can do and who you can spend time with. This is both an emotional and mental boundary-crossing.
- Material Boundary – you decide what items you lend to others or how much money or time you invest.
The two most bonkers things that I did when I had unhealthy material boundaries:
- I lent my car to my friend’s very dodgy/unsavoury boyfriend on a regular basis.
- On a first date I waited nearly an hour outside a bar for a guy in the freezing cold.
Whaaattt?? I know, I know already! Do share your experiences in the comments, come on, I did.
- Mental Boundary- safeguards a person’s thoughts, opinions and preferences.
You receive belittling or hurtful comments and when you say something, they tell you that you are being “over-sensitive” and that they were “only joking”. For example, they say “You are so stupid” But when challenged they follow it up with, “I was only joking.” They want you to believe the opposite, that “You are so stupid” is the lie when they really meant to be hurtful. This is known as gaslighting and is one example of crossing a mental boundary.
“I was only joking” is tricky as there is a difference between being teased and when someone is being deliberately cruel. However, over time it becomes clear with certain people as we pick up on body language and have a gut feeling of their true intention.
Gaslighting is different from lying and is designed to make you doubt yourself and question your sanity, to make you think you are crazy. A real-life example of a girl gaslighting a guy is shown in this clip. Background: the girl is Dalia Dippolito and she was filmed in a car arranging for a hitman (who was really undercover police) to kill her husband. The videotape was shown to her husband after she was arrested. She calls her husband from jail, this is the conversation:
It can be sneaky as sometimes we don’t know we are self-sabotaging. What can happen is the realization that we are repeating old patterns, or we can’t seem to move past a certain point and keep messing up what we are trying to do.
This is common when trying to stop certain behaviors and habits that are now making life miserable, e.g. stopping and starting smoking. Other self-sabotage could be flunking an exam that you worked hard on and knew the answers. Cheating in relationships, causing them to fail because deep down you don’t feel you deserve to be in a happy relationship or you are not lovable enough.
Self-Doubt (incl. Difficulty Making Decisions)
Making simple decisions becomes difficult when you are doubting yourself all the time. I used to always give the choice of where we would eat when going out with friends. I remember thinking, what if the place is awful and we all have a bad experience because of my choice? Once sitting down, I’d also find it difficult to choose what to eat and a lot of the time just have whatever my friend was having.
Doubting that you cannot do something is crippling. This “cannot do” attitude is based on your past experiences or listening to other people’s opinions. You are NOT the person you were in the past and what other people think of you is none of your business.
Wise words from Will Smith’s character Chris (The Pursuit Of Happiness) when he tells his son, “Don’t ever let someone tell you, you can’t do something, not even me. Alright? You got a dream, protect it. People can’t do something themselves they want to tell you, you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period!”
Worried About What Others Think Of You
Overly concerned about what others think of you and how you live your life is a sure sign that you have low self-esteem. Having high self-esteem means you know who you are (and why you do what you do) and therefore aren’t worried about what other people think of you.
Seeking Validation & Sensitive To Criticism
Getting someone’s opinion about something or asking how you look is something most of us do now and again. BUT constantly getting validation about everything is evidence of low self-worth and self-esteem.
Unable To Finish Projects Or Give Up Too Soon
On the outside, this might not look like low self-esteem and of course, it doesn’t always point to that. However, if this is a reoccurring theme in your life and you never finish training courses, a gym plan, or a healthy eating regime before they have a chance to take effect then you may need to work on your self-worth and self-esteem. Maybe you think that you don’t deserve to be healthy, happy or successful?
Don’t give up! This clip from one of my favorite movies (ever) Peaceful Warrior encapsulates this principle. Socrates tells Dan “A warrior does not give up what he loves Dan, he finds the love in what he does.” He goes on to say that “a warrior is not about perfection or victory or invulnerability, it’s about absolute vulnerability, that’s the only true courage.”
Overly Grooming Before Going Out
Continually checking your appearance to see that “you look okay” and overly grooming before you can walk out the door to go out is someone who has low self-esteem.
“If it’s not going to be perfect than I might as well not bother to even start” is the mindset of a perfectionist. ONLY THINKING about all the things you want to learn, achieve, and experience but not actually DOING anything about it leads to procrastination.
This is not simply being lazy. Procrastination has a lot of underlying fear and low self-worth issues. The fear of not “getting it right” (see previous – perfectionism), and the fear of failure, or success can stop you in your tracks and cause procrastination.
Fear of success can be something that we are not aware of. There is a speech from the movie Coach Carter – Our Deepest Fear, part of that speech is “…our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure, it is our light not our darkness that most frightens…” Check out the whole speech here:
Afraid Of Failure And Success
Two sides of the same coin but being afraid of either will stop you from moving forward in life and trying out new things to experience and learn.
ONE Common Cause Of Low Self-Esteem
Imagine your laptop kept crashing and you spent time trying to fix it but nothing seemed to work. Finally, you took it to a professional and they discovered that you had out of date programs hidden on your hard drive. These old programs were conflicting with your new set-up but once removed your laptop stopped crashing.
Your laptop is your mind and the old programs are your old limiting beliefs and thoughts.
Let me explain.
Low self-esteem and low self-worth are INTERNAL issues, meaning your opinion about yourself and your worth. Internal means there is something going on in your MIND. That usually points to old PROGRAMS playing in your mind, in the background. Programs that you have picked up consciously or unconsciously from the moment you were born. Some programs benefit you and some don’t. Some you know are there and some you have no idea about.
Either way, you need to KNOW what those programs are that cause you to self-sabotage, procrastinate, live in fear/worry and allow people to treat you badly. In other words, stop you from fully experiencing an extraordinary and joyful life.
STOP missing out on life because you don’t have to anymore.
Save THIS PIN below to your Self-Esteem or Self-Confidence Board to check later and have the information easily at your finger tips.