Individuals with low self-esteem are everywhere. You interact with them every day, and their behavior and attitudes might impact you in a negative way. One of the reasons this happens is that you may harbor your own self-esteem issues, perhaps on a smaller scale, but enough to be uncomfortable when you witness another with the tell-tale signs of this personality disorder.
Some ways to recognize symptoms of low self-esteem:
A person with low self-esteem often walks with head down, not making eye contact, poor posture and a shuffling gait. When asked to speak, there is hesitation, throat clearing, stuttering, and stammering; all behaviors indicating a lack of confidence.
Unable to accept compliments
Individuals who cannot accept compliments are displaying another sign of low self-esteem. They will often protest, turn a compliment into a negative, or confess to other shortcomings in their discomfort with accepting praise for which they feel unworthy.
When a person repeatedly says, “I’m sorry,” when there has been no infraction or reason for an apology.
This is accompanied by strong feelings of unwarranted guilt or self-blame. Always looking for approval from others is another sign.
Anger management issues
Persons with low self-esteem are often quick to temper flare-ups, get frustrated easily, and react with harsh and judgmental behavior toward others. They take every real and imagined slight personally, and often hold grudges.
Individuals with low self-esteem often speak in negative terms. They will say, “I can’t,” or “I never,” with huge reluctance to attempt anything new, for fear of failing or being ridiculed. They approach every change with negativity and pessimism.
Many with low self-esteem mask the pain of their feelings of inadequacy by indulging in addictive behaviors. These include, but are not limited to, alcohol, drugs, gambling and eating disorders. They are also often dysfunctional in their relationships.
Contrary to popular belief, all persons with low self-esteem are not unsuccessful, although that is a common occurrence, due to their fear of failure and dislike of taking risks. Some actually have workaholic personalities and suffer from perfectionist tendencies. This stems from their desire to control every aspect of their environment. They will be fastidiously neat and morally over-scrupulous.
Some who suffer from low self-esteem surround themselves with excessive trappings of success as if to compensate for their own perceived inadequacy. They will be compulsive about obtaining all the latest technology and gadgets. They suffer from oneupmanship and grandiosity.
Others go to the opposite extreme and deprive themselves of anything but the bare necessities of life. They do not feel worthy and their physical surroundings will attest to their inner feelings. Low self-esteem creates an undeserving attitude and often can go so far as to turn these individuals into “victim” personalities with a “poor me” persona. They find comfort in making do and doing without, even when their station in life dictates otherwise.
Most adults suffering from low self-esteem can trace the roots of their feelings to childhood. They perhaps experienced one or several of the following:
A negligent childhood, involving some kind of abuse; physical, mental, emotional or sexual in nature, and often a combination of more than one type.
Never experiencing unconditional love and acceptance. Parents or guardians who were emotionally distant or physically unavailable to fill the child’s needs.
Raised in any type of stressful or dysfunctional environment, often with addictive or mentally ill parents or guardians.
Raised in an emotionally controlled environment without an opportunity for self-expression or independent thought and behavior.
Most of us have had sporadic experiences in our adult life resulting in bouts of low self-esteem. Examples are the following stress points:
Being fired from a job:
- Moving to a new and unfamiliar place
- Death of a loved one or close friend
- Chronic illness or handicap
These are temporary conditions from which we will eventually recover on our own. If we find our self-esteem issues lingering, it is wise to take one of the following steps:
- Seek professional help
- Read self help literature
- Join a support group
- Participate in a workshop of the seminar which addresses your issues
- Consult with your doctor or clergy
If you know someone suffering from low self-esteem, be encouraging and nonjudgmental.
Praise and kindness go a long way in successful interaction. If you are the one experiencing feelings of inadequacy, do not be afraid or ashamed to talk about it and seek help. Feeling good about yourself is a key ingredient to a happy and fulfilled life. You deserve no less.