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Self-esteem is the way you view yourself. People with a healthy self-esteem can see both their flaws and their good qualities. They know they are not perfect but they’re also aware of all the good things they bring into the world simply by being themselves.
But low self-esteem is different. People with low self-esteem see a flawed version of themselves. Instead of seeing anything positive, you only focus on the negative and feel badly about who you are. If you’re not sure if you struggle with low self-esteem, here are a few common signs of it…
You Feel Shame
Shame is the belief that deep down, you’re bad, unlovable, or worthless. It often convinces you to hide. The way you “hide” may be different depending on your personality. Sometimes, it involves your body language by hunching your shoulders, walking with your head down, or not meeting the gaze of another person when you’re in conversation.
For some people, shame shows up in other ways such as overcompensating in one area of your life, trying not to draw attention to how you look, or over-apologizing for things that clearly aren’t your fault.
Fear Of Failure
When you struggle with low self-esteem, it’s easy to believe that what you do is who you are. This creates tremendous pressure to do everything right. As a result, you’re not willing to try new things or experiment for fear you’ll mess up and become a failure.
Fear of failure may show up in one area of your life but not another. For example, you may be the best salesperson in your division at work but in private, you struggle to write that book you’ve been dreaming of for fear that it won’t be amazing.
You Keep Saying Yes
Yes, can be a wonderful word but only when you say it and truly mean it. For many people with low self-esteem, they say “yes” to opportunities and events that aren’t a good fit for their skills or interests.
Some of this stems from a desire to get other people to like you. You might think if others like you, their approval will rub off on you and you’ll feel good about yourself. While that might work temporarily, you’re always looking for the next shot of approval and saying “yes” feels like the only way to get it.
You Downplay Your Success
People with low self-esteem struggle to believe they deserve success. When they are praised or their work is acknowledged, they’re quick to downplay it. For example, you might say, “ Jane handled most of the work. I just came along at the end and put a finishing touch on it.”
Another way you might do this to call your success “luck” or tell others that you were simply in the right place at the right time. You may also struggle to accept compliments, dismiss kind words as someone being nice, or tell yourself that others are just trying to make you feel better.
Like a funhouse mirror distorts your image, so does low self-esteem. The good news is that even if you identified with some of the signs above, low self-esteem can be worked through and overcome with time.