Characteristics of People with Low Self-Esteem

Insecurity, lack of assertiveness, or fear of negative judgments are the main characteristics of people who have a low assessment of themselves.
Characteristics of People with Low Self-Esteem

Last update: 19 November, 2021

Self-esteem, as a dimension sensitive to events -both internal and external- varies throughout your life. This happens because the perception of your personal worth is closely linked to the positive and negative milestones of your history. In this article, we explore the main characteristics of people with low self-esteem and include some tips for working on it.

Self-esteem can be understood as the way you make judgments about yourself. They can be positive or negative.

Many of the negative judgments you make about yourself are the result of the comparison between your ‘real self’ and an ‘ideal self’. Sometimes, this ideal is built from aspirational models of beauty, fame, and wealth. However, if it’s not based on your real characteristics, it can negatively affect the way you feel about yourself.

These evaluations that you make about yourself are subjective and are often loaded with a high emotionality. In other words, they’re closely linked to the feelings you experience toward yourself.

One of the main characteristics of people with low self-esteem is negative self-talk. In fact, they establish an internal dialogue in which their achievements, growth, or efforts – the elements that speak well of them – are omitted. In this way, their dialogue feeds emotions such as insecurity and self-doubt.

Other characteristic features are as follows.

1. Insecurity and lack of self-confidence

People with low self-esteem tend to be insecure and indecisive. It may be difficult for them to make decisions or take risks, as they fear being wrong and making mistakes. Thus, they continually experience feelings of guilt and regret, both for the mistakes they’ve made and the opportunities they’ve missed.

Man who feels judged

2. Fear of negative judgments

Linked to the above, people with self-esteem problems show excessive concern about what they say. In other words, they tend to take into account what they understand to be the opinion of others, giving it too much importance.

Additionally, they’re afraid of being evaluated negatively. This frequently causes them to become inactive. That’s because the fear of negative judgment and error paralyzes them and they’re unable to complete any task. Furthermore, this form of insecurity can often project itself into their professional life and significantly harm it.

3. Avoidant behaviors

It’s also possible that this fear encourages avoidance behaviors towards new challenges due to fear of failure and making mistakes. There can also be a tendency to want to stay in the background, be invisible, thus avoiding drawing attention to themselves.

Some people with low self-esteem are also shy and experience difficulties in sharing their feelings.

4. Lack of assertiveness

One trait of low self-esteem is often a lack of assertiveness. In other words, a reduced ability to clearly express their wants and needs.

Added to this, there may be a tendency for them to be unable to say ‘no’, and end up making unwanted commitments or taking actions against their will.

5. Emotional dependency

Emotional dependence and idealization of others are also characteristics of low self-esteem. In fact, these people might build ideally perfect versions of those close to them, especially those on whom they emotionally depend.

6. Distorted self-concept

Another important trait associated with low self-esteem means the sufferer refuses to accept their own achievements and potential. 

Low self-esteem can also lead them to be overly critical, inflexible, and demanding of themselves. This attitude increases the incidence of emotional dependency we mentioned above.

7. Tendency to self-sabotage

Finally, the tendency to think things like ‘I’m not lucky’ or ‘I’ll never be able to do that’ is also a characteristic of people with low self-esteem. They may also exhibit negative attitudes and show little will to change.

Woman thinking

How to strengthen your self-esteem?

If you feel you may be suffering from low esteem, fortunately, there are actions you can take to feel better about yourself. Indeed, you have the opportunity to work consciously and intentionally on the way you evaluate yourself and to obtain results that’ll benefit you.

Strategies, such as journaling and recording how these accomplishments make you feel, can go a long way toward strengthening your self-esteem. This is because it’ll help you recognize your triumphs and will drive you to pursue new goals day by day.

It’s also important to take a look at how you express your thoughts. For example, are you assertive? How do you set boundaries for others in the areas that concern you?

Finally, you can seek professional help to try and identify the origin of these negative feelings towards yourself.  Then, once you’ve recognized them, you can start to change them.

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