Spotting the signs of low self-esteem

Your self-esteem can encompass a variety of factors and refers to your overall sense of self-value. Essentially, it is your opinion about yourself, however, it is about more than generally liking yourself. Consider your sense of identity, self-confidence, the times you have felt competent and what gives you a sense of belonging.

Self-esteem plays an important role in many areas of life. That could be emotional areas such as believing you deserve love and valuing your own thoughts and feelings. The importance you place on your interests and goals. On the other hand, it can also play a role in how you allow others to treat you, and your ability to develop meaningful and supportive relationships. Struggling with low self-esteem can have a significant impact on quality of life and isn’t something you have to accept and live with.

Spotting the signs of low self-esteem is really important in order to get the help and support needed to break away from it.

  • Low confidence: Low self-esteem can cause someone to lack confident, but on the other hand, poor confidence can also worsen low self-esteem.

  • Lacking control: This can be a feeling of powerlessness when it comes to making adjustments and improvements or not believing they have the ability to create changes.

  • Comparison: This could be with family, friends, strangers or people online and often involves them focusing on people who they think are better than themselves.

  • Problems asking for something they need: This could be through feeling embarrassed about needing to ask or feel incompetent for needing assistance.

  • Self-doubt: After making a decision, they may worry about whether they have made the wrong choice. They may question their own opinions and change to what others think.

  • Not accepting compliments: Positive feedback is often met with suspicion or a lack of trust, because the complimentary words don’t fit with their view of themselves.

  • Negative self-talk: Low self-esteem causes people to focus on their flaws and ignore their strengths. They find faults with their appearance, personality or abilities.

  • Fear failure: This comes from them doubting their ability to achieve and be successful. This leads to avoiding challenges or giving up quickly to feel like they are in control. This might look like blaming external factors, trying to downplay the importance of something or making excuses.

  • Lack boundaries: This can be due to feeling guilty for being clear with boundaries or fear that putting them in place will lead to people not liking them. This can lead to people not respecting their space and time.

  • People pleasing: This aims top gain validation by going above and beyond to ensure that other people or happy. This can lead into them neglecting their own and not wanting to say to things due to feelings of guilt.

Low self-esteem is something you can change and improve, by identifying your beliefs and assumptions and establishing the experiences that influenced them, you can learn new ways of thinking and therefore boost your self-esteem.

There are some great books out there and some NHS services run groups too. Alternatively, one to one counselling can be a great way to increase your understanding of your self-esteem and improve it to lead the life you deserve with healthy boundaries, confidence and positive self-talk. 

Billie Pursglove

Billie Pursglove

Owner of Energy Psychotherapy and BACP Registered Member.