What is Low Self-Esteem – 10 Signs of Low Self-Esteem

Everyone has talked about their self-esteem being low at some point, but do we really know what that means?

Self-esteem describes an individual's overall sense of self-worth or personal value. It consists of one's beliefs and emotions, such as triumph, despair, pride, and shame. Self-esteem is an essential part of your overall mental and emotional well-being.

How you think, feel, and move through the world is all influenced by your self-esteem. Your sense of self can affect your mood, relationships, self-image, and perception of success. People with low self-esteem may have difficulty believing in themselves, setting goals, or taking risks. They may feel like they don't fit in or aren't appreciated, leading to shame, guilt, insecurity, depression, or anxiety.

When our self-esteem is high, we generally feel good about ourselves and our abilities. We tend to be more confident, motivated, and resilient to stress and failure. A healthy level of self-esteem helps us achieve our goals and strive toward our fullest potential.

Self-Esteem Fluctuates

Healthy self-esteem is neither too high nor too low. Self-esteem includes self-respect, self-care, self-soothing, optimism, hope, and ambition. What is often misunderstood about self-esteem is that people move up and down on a continuum.

For instance, you might experience low self-esteem while engaging with a peer. First, you have the thought, "Oh my God! He's so brilliant. I am so dumb and should have thought of that first." Now, you're having ALL the thoughts about why you are not enough. Then they misspeak, or the conversation shifts towards a topic you enjoy. Your self-esteem rises, and now you have the confidence to engage in the conversation as more of an equal. Your thoughts are more encouraging and focused on your strengths. 

We all move from too low to too high and parts in between. It can fluctuate day by day as well as many while you read this article. Nobody reaches healthy self-esteem and stays there for the rest of their lives. It's not something that we win and hold onto indefinitely. When our self-esteem is too low, we must bring ourselves up to center and say, "Come on, you can do this." And when our self-esteem is too high, we need to bring ourselves back down to center and calm down. "Alright now, chill out and take it easy." That's some of the self-talk that helps me keep a healthy level of self-esteem. 

But how do we know when we need to use it? Today we'll explore ways to identify when your self-esteem is low.

How does low self-esteem feel?

Because it is easy to become trapped in our version of events, it can be challenging to recognize that your low mood or increased anxiety stems from low self-esteem. So let's consider some ways to identify if your value of yourself is low.

    1. Feeling worthless or inadequate

Feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy are common when your esteem is low. People who lack self-esteem may feel that they are not good enough or that they don't measure up to the standards of others. You may experience frequent thoughts that you aren't capable of achieving goals or are unworthy of success. These thoughts can be debilitating and lead to increased worry and stress-related symptoms.

    1. Avoiding social interactions

Low self-esteem can cause people to avoid social interactions. Avoidance can be due to fear of being judged, fear of failure, or fear of being embarrassed. People lacking self-confidence may also be less likely to take risks in social situations, such as making friends or engaging in conversations. They may also be overly self-conscious in public settings and feel more comfortable in isolation. In addition, low self-esteem increases the likelihood of engaging in negative self-talk, which can further reduce the willingness to participate in social interactions.

    1. Believing that you are not capable of achieving your goals

Low self-esteem makes it difficult to believe you can achieve your goals. As a result, it can be tempting to give up before you even start or to doubt that you have the skills and resources to make it happen.

    1. Feeling like an outsider

 Perhaps you feel disconnected from others as if you don't fit in or belong. Feeling like an outsider feeds a lack of self-confidence and a sense of not being accepted or valued. It can also lead to anxiety and depression as you worry about how others perceive you. Fear of being rejected or judged makes it challenging to feel motivated or to take risks.

    1. Feeling unloved or unwanted

Low self-esteem is associated with feeling unloved and unwanted, exaggerating feelings of insecurity, anxiety, depression, isolation, a lack of self-confidence, and difficulty forming meaningful relationships. It can also lead to destructive behaviors like self-sabotage and self-criticism. Ironically, recognizing these feelings and addressing them works to build healthier self-esteem.

      1. Fear of failure

Low self-esteem can make a person feel inadequate, worthless, or not good enough to succeed. For example, suppose you feel like you will never be able to do anything well. In that case, the fear of failing or, worse, failing publicly makes you too afraid even to try. This fear of failure prevents you from achieving your full potential, as you may become overwhelmed by the possibility of not succeeding. In addition, you fear criticism or judgment from others or not being accepted. This fear may look like avoidance, such as procrastination or declining opportunities.

    1. Apologizing excessively

Because the perception of others is often valued, people with low self-esteem often apologize excessively to seek validation and acceptance from others. You may need to apologize for anything they perceive as wrong, even if you are not at fault. This need often results in misplaced guilt and shame and may even make you more vulnerable to criticism from others.

    1. Difficulty making decisions

People with low self-esteem often struggle to trust their judgment and feel overwhelmed with everyday choices. As a result, you falsely believe you need more knowledge, skills, and confidence to make the right decision. As a result, you may delay decisions or avoid making them altogether. They may also seek reassurance from others and are influenced by their opinions and advice.

    1. Feeling like a burden to others

Having low self-esteem can lead to feeling like a burden to others. This can manifest in various ways, such as feeling like you are constantly asking for help, worrying that your presence is a nuisance to others, and feeling guilty for needing to rely on others for support. Low self-esteem can also lead to insecurity, making it difficult to trust others or believe they care about you. You may also feel like you are not worthy of friendship or love. Ultimately, these feelings can lead to a sense of isolation and loneliness.

    1. Negative self-talk

Negative self-talk is a form of low self-esteem experience that occurs when an individual internally expresses negative thoughts about themselves. It can include ruminating thoughts about oneself, such as "I am not good enough" or "I am a failure," or making comparisons to others, such as "Everyone else is better than me." Negative self-talk can be a way of avoiding responsibility, minimizing accomplishments, and avoiding goals or dreams. It can also prevent difficult emotions like sadness, disappointment, or anger. Over time, negative self-talk can lead to feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and low self-esteem. It can also lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.


It is important to remember that everyone has the potential to accomplish great things. It is possible to overcome low self-esteem and build a positive belief in your abilities. Start by setting realistic goals, and celebrate each step of progress along the way. Acknowledge your successes and take time to recognize all the hard work you have put in. You can also reach out for help or support when needed. You can learn to believe in yourself and work towards your goals with resilience and focus.

Raye Chin Trans

I’m Rayvéne Whatley a Licensed Professional Counselor in Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. I enjoy empowering you to remove the mask of other people’s expectations and have the audacity to be yourself. I have a particular passion for Black man and women cope with anxiety and challenge expectations by reexamining beliefs that no longer suit their desires.

Note: While the information above is intended to provide insight as you begin your journey they are not intended to replace the guidance of a trained professional. Exploring these concerns in the presence of a licensed counselor or other licensed professional may provide deeper insight and assist in managing more multifaceted concerns that may arise.

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