How to tell if you have low self-esteem

How to tell if you have low self-esteem

Low self-esteem can be a real burden for those who are afflicted with it. It can hamper your ability to be assertive and make the right life choices. We often keep some symptoms of low self-esteem hidden from others, and even ourselves, and in the long term this can be very damaging. Take our quick test to help ascertain whether you have issues with low self-esteem. How many of these can you admit to?

1. You’re constantly saying sorry

Nothing says lack of self-esteem more than that simple word, ‘sorry’. Of course we all need to take responsibility for what we have done wrong, but if you’re constantly saying sorry without even thinking about it, then this is a sign of low self-esteem.

2. You can’t make a decision

Given a choice of anything – dessert, meeting time, film to see, career, or relationship – you find yourself procrastinating and dawdling. You conjure up all sorts of ‘what if’ scenarios in your head that make the decision making process even more difficult than it needs to be. What if you choose nothing? What if you choose everything?

3. When someone criticises you, you take it very personally

If you find that you take constructive criticism too personally you are suffering with low self-esteem. You may burst into tears when your boss or a co-worker criticises what you do at work, or get angry with your friends and family if they disagree with a decision you’ve made or something you’ve said. If you act emotionally in such circumstances, this is a sign you have a problem.

4. You give up too easily

You give up or you give in. You convince yourself that you’re wrong or that you have nothing to gain, so you fail to stand up for yourself or what you believe in.

5. A lack of mindfulness

Low self-esteem is characterised by being unable to live in the present. Too much energy is taken up by thinking about the past and mistakes we made, or things we could have done differently. Or we fear the future and imagine what will happen if we do something. We can never know what will happen to us and yet still, those with low self-esteem think they have all the answers.

6. You find yourself second guessing the meaning behind what others say to you

People with low self-esteem often feel uncertain about the world around them. They look for meaning in everything in order to make sure the world makes sense. Because they have a negative belief in themselves, or at the least are very doubtful about themselves, they tend to question what others think or say. If you find that you are trying to read inferences into someone’s tone of voice or choice of words, you will always find something to back up your own worst suspicions. Unfortunately, this is all in your head, and even worse, it just ends up confirming what you already believe. It’s self-perpetuating and harmful.

7. You constantly compare yourself to other people

If you find that you are comparing yourself to other people – perhaps your siblings, co-workers, friends, parents or even people in the street, you won’t be doing yourself any favours. You are making a comparison between yourself and them using your own criteria to judge. Given that because of your low self-esteem your judgement will be off, this is a ridiculous process to engage in and you’ll just make yourself feel worse. You will never know anyone else unless you walk a mile in their shoes, and this makes comparison impossible.

8. You won’t leave the house without looking your very best

If you’re the sort of person who puts on mascara and lipstick, just to post selfies of yourself in your pyjamas onto social media, or you can’t leave the house without a full face of slap even if you’re walking to the corner shop, then you are suffering low self-esteem. This goes hand in hand with your fear of being judged by others. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look good of course, or wanting to make the best of yourself, but don’t do it with the intention of courting the approval of others. You too will eventually grow old. Learn to live in your skin now and you’ll always accept yourself.

9. You can’t accept a compliment

Learning to accept a compliment is a skill. Many people with low self-esteem struggle to be able to graciously accept a compliment, and instead will deflect the conversation, or diffuse a compliment by stating baldly that the person giving the compliment is incorrect or bonkers. Sometimes you will decide that the compliment had a dual meaning, and agonise over it for days. What did he or she really mean when they said that? They probably meant exactly what they said. Our perception of others’ motives needs tweaking.

10. You bad mouth other people

This is a particularly unpleasant way in which low self-esteem works. When you don’t feel good about yourself, you may find that you come to enjoy putting other people down. Perhaps it makes you feel better. This is due to a lack of confidence in yourself or your own insecurity. You’ll actually feel much better if you choose to help others out.


Low self-esteem makes it tough to live well, happily, and in the present. You hurt yourself, and you can end up hurting others. If you identified with some or all of the issues in our test, now is the time to work on your self-esteem and rise like a beautiful phoenix from the ashes of your past. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it.

And yes! You can do it!


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