13 Sneaky And Subtle Signs Of Low Self-Esteem

A survey of 2000 adults found some astounding facts. 85% of women in the survey believed that they weren’t pretty. 50% of men refused to believe they were intelligent. More than half of teenagers were consumed by worries about what other people think about them.

Evidently, the way we look at ourselves is in a grave crisis. People around the world refuse to believe in themselves. The opinions they have about their own self are downright defeating. This is what psychology terms as signs of low self-esteem. 

The worst part, we don’t do anything about it. A significant reason behind this is that we do not properly understand these signs of self-esteem. This is because people who generally have low esteem carry around a certain self-view or image that they think is absolutely true. This negative image of yourself is constant in your head. You continue to harbor these harsh perspectives about who you are as a person. 

When these negative perspectives continue for too long, it gets increasingly difficult to take a step back and understand how wrong and far from reality they are. This is precisely why it is imperative that you are conscious of signs of low self-worth. 

To help you get started, let us dive deeper into 13 sneaky and subtle signs of low esteem.  

13 Sneaky And Subtle Signs Of Low Self-Esteem

13 Sneaky Low Self-Esteem Symptoms 

1. Difficulty accepting compliments

One of the most subtle yet common signs of low self-esteem is not being able to take a compliment. People with low self-esteem find it extremely difficult (or downright impossible) to accept a compliment with their whole heart. The idea that they have done something worthy, achieved something valuable, or succeeded is unacceptable to them. It directly clashes with their negative self-image. 

Now it is entirely normal to show modesty when someone compliments you, but if you actually distrust or decline every praise, it is definitely one of the signs of low esteem.

2. You agree with everyone all the time.

You absolutely refuse to have even thought of a contradictory opinion to everyone else in a room. You never articulate your opinions or stand up for yourself. Instead, you always choose to keep quiet and nod your head with friends, family, and just about everyone. This fear of not voicing out your opinions because you fear being disliked by anyone is one of the signs of low self-esteem.

3. Having difficulty in clearly stating your needs.

One of the signs of low esteem is being unable to articulate your needs properly. Many people with low self-esteem believe that they sometimes can’t ask for help or do not deserve it. They often feel a sense of shame and guilt while asking for help. 

4. Saying “sorry” in situations that aren’t even their fault.

Apologizing is not wrong. There are occasions where you genuinely make a mistake and require a sorry. However, if you are in the habit of using ‘sorry’ as a defense mechanism, it is one of the signs of low self-worth. People with low self-esteem have this mindset that something is constantly about to go wrong around them, and their consciousness is ready to say, “Hey, sorry, I knew something was about to mess up. So here’s an upfront apology for something that might not be my fault, but I will take responsibility for it anyways.” It is almost like having an apology for even being alive. 

This is mainly because it is easier to apologize. You feel your self-worth is defined by how many people’s burdens you can carry and how many people can feel lighter because of you. But the truth is your worth doesn’t lie in a sorry. It lies in how you can help people realize their mistakes and understand that your apologies do not define you. 

5. Hurtful underachievement

Deliberate underachievement is one of the primary signs of low self-esteem. People with low esteem constantly sell themselves short, lose out on big opportunities, and settle for less than what they deserve. Believing in the fact they don’t deserve good things, they devoid themselves of happiness and success. This hurtful underachievement is not just one of the signs of low self-esteem but also self-sabotage in its finest form.

6. Self-deprecating humor

Everyone loves those with good humor. But think deeper are all those times when they make themselves or their shortcomings the punchline – are they just jokes, or do they stem from a lack of self-worth?

Constant self-deprecating humor can be a huge sign of low esteem on the part of the joke teller. People use the ability to make jokes as a defense mechanism. They think about highlighting and making fun of their shortcomings first before anyone else does. 

7. Being defensive

All of us have acted defensive at some point or other. It is common to have a strong emotional response to being unfairly judged or criticized. However, one of the symptoms of low esteem is being defensive to the point where you retaliate with a tendency to hurt the other person. 

Some people with low self-esteem are on a constant lookout to find something that makes them feel better. Acting out on their defensive feelings and harming the other person makes them feel temporarily validated and powerful. 

8. Lack of proper boundaries

Saying yes to things you clearly don’t want to do and finding it difficult to cut yourself from over-extending yourself in your personal and professional life is one of the sneaky signs of low self-esteem. 

When people lack self-confidence, they constantly compromise their boundaries and well-being for the comfort of others. They believe that they will not be able to maintain good relationships along with advocating for themselves.

9. Difficult making choices for yourself

Indecisiveness is one of the most common signs of low self-worth. People with low esteem are constantly worried about making the wrong choices. Therefore, they prefer following rather than choosing. Such people often prefer to avoid being in places and positions where they are required to make too many or too big decisions.

10. You are extremely critical of others.

People with low self-esteem are overly critical of others in a bid to boost their egos. Now, we all are critical in our thought process sometimes, but there is a huge difference between thinking critically and actually being critical. 

Since people with low self-esteem have a hard time feeling good about themselves, they might frequently engage in being extremely critical of others. This gives them a temporary boost. 

11. Social media has the power to make or break your day.

Simply put, our social media is a way to validate our thoughts, feelings, and the content we share. So yes, it might hurt when people don’t like your latest post. But, if you are someone with high self-esteem, this seemingly minor incident will not have the power to ruin your day. But for those with low self-esteem, this incident not only consumes your day but ends up ruining your whole week. 

Therefore, if social media can make your day far better or worse, it is definitely one of the signs of low self-esteem.

12. Having a negative outlook on life

Are you a negative nancy? This is another one of the tell-tale signs of low self-esteem. People with low self-worth have a pessimistic outlook toward life events. They tend always to expect negative outcomes from almost all situations. 

Therefore, if you are constantly complaining about your life and looking at opportunities like threats, you might have low esteem.

13. Not allowing yourself to be happy.

When you have low self-esteem, you have this critical inner voice whose only purpose is to put you down. This inner critic responds adversely to any positive thing in your life. So even if something good happens, like getting a job offer from the company of your dreams, you tend to focus on how you might mess it up rather than just celebrating it. Therefore, it gets challenging to feel true happiness.


High self-esteem is crucial because it determines your growth, success, and happiness in life. We hope that equipped with this list of signs of low self-esteem, you will nowa work toward addressing your issues and building a better version of yourself.

If you have a constant low opinion about yourself, difficulties can emerge in every sphere of your life. It can eventually start affecting your daily functioning.

If you have low self-esteem issues that constantly affect your daily life, therapy can be of great help. Therapy lets you understand where these issues stem from and how to address them safely. Access to therapy is now easier than ever with the advent of online therapy platforms. To learn more about them, click here.

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