We may think we understand the signs of low self-esteem. Neglecting our own needs; finding it hard to accept praise; comparing ourselves unfavourably with others; avoiding eye contact; constantly taking the blame. These are all common signs most of us would recognise as indicating a lack of confidence or self worth. However, it’s important to remember that not everyone with low self-esteem behaves the same way. There are a number of signs that are often overlooked or misinterpreted.
Identifying the hidden signs of low self-esteem can be helpful in understanding the root causes of difficult feelings and behaviours. It might be useful to reflect on whether any of the following signs are familiar to us:
1. Finding it hard to reach a decision
Life is filled with choices to be made. From the more important ones relating to our careers or relationships to the simpler ones like holiday destinations or outfit choices. People with low self-esteem generally don’t have much faith in their own judgement. This can often lead to difficulty making choices, even smaller ones. If we find ourselves agonising about what to do or constantly looking to others for guidance it may be that low self-esteem is leading us to doubt our ability to decide what is best for ourselves.
No matter who we are, most of us experience failure at some point. If we have a strong belief in our own value we can experience failure without feeling that we “are” a failure. Without a belief that we are valuable just as we are, we feel only as good as the last thing we have achieved. This can lead to perfectionism where we have impossibly high standards and rarely feel satisfied with ourselves. Perfectionism causes stress and anxiety and leads to a vicious cycle where self-worth is linked with ability to perform perfectly.
Most people have an instinct to protect themselves. Low self-esteem can make us feel vulnerable and we may sometimes try to protect ourselves by being hostile, aggressive or dominant. It can sometimes feel safer if others are too intimidated to challenge or question us. However, wearing a false mask can be draining over time. Hostile behaviour will inevitably have negative consequences for ourselves and those around us.
4. Sensitivity to Criticism
Nobody like to be criticised. However if we have confidence and belief in ourselves we can generally take in and benefit from feedback, even when it challenges us. When we don’t feel good about ourselves it can sometimes feel threatening to be judged by others. We can interpret feedback as a negative personal attack. If we find it difficult to hear constructive criticism it may be an indication of low self-esteem.
Lying in bed at night going over and over the events of the day; looking for hidden meanings in thing others have said or done; constantly questioning our own behaviour and whether we have said the right things; worrying excessively about upcoming events. These can all be signs that we are over-thinking. Life can be challenging and presents us with many difficult and unpredictable situations. When we have low self-esteem we don’t trust our ability to handle these situations. This leads to stress and anxiety as we constantly question ourselves and how we will cope with future problems.
If any of these signs are familiar it is important to remember we are not alone in this experience. We can all struggle at times with self-doubt or lack of confidence. The first step to tackling low self-esteem is recognising and acknowledging how we are feeling.
Make a change today.
Have a great week,
Newbridge, Co. Kildare.
Portlaoise, Co. Laois.