While everyone lacks confidence occasionally, people with low self-esteem feel unhappy or unsatisfied with themselves most of the time.
Common signs and characteristics of low self-esteem:
> Extremely critical of yourself.
> Downplaying or ignoring your positive qualities.
> Judging yourself to be inferior to your friends and family.
> Using negative words to describe yourself such as “stupid”, “fat”, “ugly” or “unlovable”.
> Having discussions with yourself that is always negative, critical, and self-blaming. This we refer to as the ‘inner-critic’ (also called ‘self-talk’).
> Assuming that luck plays a large role in all your achievements, rather than taking the credit for your achievements.
> Blaming yourself when things go wrong instead of considering all other contributing factors outside of your control such as the actions of other people.
> Not believing compliments and actually feeling a little uncomfortable or not sure what to say when receiving a compliment.
How does low self-esteem impact my day-to-day life?
> Negative feelings– your ‘inner-critic’ will result in persistent feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety, anger, shame, or guilt.
> Relationship problems– you may find yourself tolerating all sorts of unreasonable behaviour from partners or friends. Perhaps you believe you need to earn love and friendship, cannot be loved or are not loveable. On the flip side, an individual with low self-esteem may feel angry and therefore bully other people.
> Fear of trying– you may doubt your abilities, level of competencies or self-worth and therefore avoid trying certain challenges. For example, you may not apply for a dream job, talk to a new group of people at social gathering or simply not put up your hand in class when you know the correct answer. You may find yourself avoiding certain activities out of fear of potential judgement. This may result in you putting up an ‘invisible shield’ to protect yourself from that fear of trying or judgement.
> Perfectionism– you may push yourself so hard to achieve high or unattainable standards. Perhaps you become an over-achiever to ‘atone’ for what you see as your own inferiority.
> Fear of judgement– as mentioned above, you may avoid activities that involve other people, like sports or social events because you’re super afraid you’ll be negatively judged. Perhaps you feel self-conscious and stressed around others and constantly looks for ‘signs’ that people don’t like you. You may assume others are thinking all sorts of judgemental things about you. For example, you may find yourself thinking – “I look so awkward”, “I look like such a loser”, “I look so boring, why would anyone want to talk to me?”, “I look so ugly in this outfit and maybe I should go home”. Pssstt…. this is the ‘inner-critic’ that we mentioned earlier and yes, this is one factor that will maintain your cycle of low self-esteem.
> Low resilience– you may find it hard to cope with a challenging life event because you already believe you will be ‘hopeless’.
> Lack of self-care– you may find yourself caring so little that you neglect or abuse yourself. A few common examples that come to mind include drinking too much alcohol, not showering for a few days, lack finding the purpose to brush your teeth, delay medical checks or putting off talking to a Psychologist.
> Self-harming behaviours– low self-esteem puts you at an increased risk of self-harm. For example: disordered eating, drug abuse or suicide.