What's Behind Excessive Modesty?

Modesty helps you connect with others in society. That being said, excessive modesty can do just the opposite. Discover why in this article.
What's Behind Excessive Modesty?

Last update: 27 April, 2019

Modesty helps you connect with others in society. It doesn’t allow your achievements to overshadow those of other people. That being said, excessive modesty can do just the opposite. It can make relationships with the people around you more difficult. Other people may view excessive modesty as a form of lying.

You probably don’t know how to react when someone around you is being excessively modest. They make you question whether their modesty is real. You may even want to get away from them. But beyond just making others uncomfortable, this behavior can sabotage the social prospects of those who engage in it. Let’s discuss why.

What is Modesty?

An excessively modest woman talking to her friend.

Modesty is an attitude that tends to soften external actions. It involves keeping yourself within certain boundaries for the sake of social or personal interests. You can also describe it as humility and a lack of vanity. However, the concept of modesty may vary depending on the cultural context. In addition, it’s linked to fashion, morality, religion, and other fields.

Whatever the case may be, modest people tend to downplay certain parts of their personalities or their achievements and successes. They do it out of respect for others and to avoid hurting their feelings. Modesty can be used to reduce the expectations of the people around you. It helps you understand what other people expect from you and what they see as normal. But what happens when you start to elevate other people’s opinions?

Excessive Modesty

Some experts describe excessive modesty as a self-defense mechanism of people who want others to hold lower expectations for them. High expectations from family members and loved ones create tension in childhood. In these cases, people may be using excessive modesty as a way to ask others to expect less from them.

As we stated above, excessive modesty allows you to understand what other people expect of you. Nevertheless, it affects the concept that other people have of you. It might even convey insecurity, complexes, poor self-acceptance, and low self-esteem.

In a work interview, for example, exaggerating your achievements is equally as bad as downplaying them. Some people think they can say things such as “I know I’m not qualified for this position, but…” or “I don’t think I’m good at it, but…” However, they can hurt your chances of getting the job.

After all, modesty seeks a certain measure of empathy. Through modesty, you’re trying to get compassion and acceptance. Excessive modesty, though, may make people reject you instead. That’s because it looks like you’re begging for another person’s acceptance in a fake way.

What’s behind Excessive Modesty?

One of the main ingredients of extreme modesty is insecurity. People who are excessively modest have low self-esteem. They constantly seek approval from other people. In fact, even when these people are truly intelligent, they’ll seek weaknesses and criticize themselves severely. Additionally, they’ll downplay their achievements. They might even end up restricting their own progress.

That’s the major problem of people who are excessively modest: they sabotage themselves. This type of behavior generates such insecurity that they become unable to take risks. As such, they don’t progress as they should. And this isn’t restricted to professional life. It can also affect their personal life.

Excessive modesty can make social relations more difficult.

Is it Possible to Stop Being Excessively Modest?

As with any personality trait, excessive modesty is difficult to get rid of. At the end of the day, people who are too modest often don’t even know that they are. Once they do discover this truth, they might feel nervous about taking the first step to fixing it because they’re afraid of what others might think.

Even though it may not be easy, it’s possible to manage it. In order to do this, you have to forget about others’ opinions, at least in your daily life. When you belittle other people’s opinions, you’ll be adding value to your own. It’s essential for you to feel comfortable with your own decisions even though they may not always be right.

Ultimately, learning to love and respect yourself will help you leave excessive modesty behind.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.