advertisement
Home » Blog » Signs of Low Self-Esteem

Signs of Low Self-Esteem

I used to beat myself up for everything, even when I’d do a good job. Because, you know, I could always do better.

I also used to say “I’m sorry” when a) I wasn’t sorry and b) at the weirdest times, like when someone would bump into me or when I’d want to express a difference of opinion. (Blogger and author Therese Borchard can relate. She gave exposure therapy a try for eliminating her apologizing addiction.)

And any time I’d make a mistake, big or small, I’d feel like I just committed a mortal sin. All mistakes were magnified and the guilt and shame made me want to crawl under a rock. Making mistakes became a gnawing cycle that also chipped away at my already unstable self-esteem.

Saying no to someone was painful, and there were many times that I just wanted to be alone.

“Pioneering self-esteem researcher Morris Rosenberg asserted that nothing is more stressful than lacking the secure anchor of self-esteem,” according to Glenn R. Schiraldi, Ph.D., author of The Self-Esteem Workbook and a professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

In my case, this was certainly true. My low self-esteem led to several toxic relationships, extra stress and a sinking mood. And along the way, I just didn’t enjoy myself as much as I could have.

Rosenberg’s research, Schiraldi said, revealed the following signs of low self-esteem:

  • Sensitivity to criticism
  • Social withdrawal
  • Hostility
  • Excessive preoccupation with personal problems
  • Physical symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia and headaches

“People even put on a false front to impress [others],” he said.

People with a shaky self-esteem also struggle with self-critical, negative thoughts, said Lisa Firestone, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and co-author of Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice. “These thoughts often criticize and hold them back from going after what they want in life.”

Firestone explained that “When a person feels worthless, they can start to show poor performance or stop trying to achieve in areas in which they feel defeated: academically, professionally, or personally.”

Failure can be especially tough on people with low self-esteem. According to Schiraldi, they experience more shame than others.

10 Simply Solutions for Building Self-EsteemFortunately, self-esteem isn’t set in stone. It takes time and practice, but you can absolutely lift low self-esteem and develop respect, appreciation and unconditional love for yourself. And no, this doesn’t mean being selfish or self-absorbed. In his second book, 10 Simple Solutions for Building Self-Esteem, Schiraldi writes:

Wholesome self-esteem is the conviction that one is as worthwhile as anyone else, but not more so. On one hand, we feel a quiet gladness to be who we are and a sense of dignity that comes from realizing that we share what all humans possess — intrinsic worth. On the other hand, those with self-esteem remain humble, realizing that everyone has much to learn and that we are all really in the same boat.

Signs of Low Self-Esteem


This article features affiliate links to Amazon.com, where a small commission is paid to Psych Central if a book is purchased. Thank you for your support of Psych Central!


Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is an Associate Editor and regular contributor at Psych Central. Her Master's degree is in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University. In addition to writing about mental disorders, she blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her Psych Central blog, Weightless.


7 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment
APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). Signs of Low Self-Esteem. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/signs-of-low-self-esteem/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 30 Jan 2012)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.