If you have ever felt as though you struggle with your sense of self-esteem and confidence, know that you’re not alone. In fact, experts estimate that approximately 85% of the world’s population struggles with low self-esteem throughout their lives.
While it’s often shrugged off as ‘normal’ or ‘nothing major’, the truth is that a low self-esteem can impact every aspect of our lives. It has the ability to damage our relationships, prevent career advancement and rob us of the joy and happiness that life may otherwise possess. It is for this reason that it’s more important than ever to pull back the curtain and reveal and reveal the truth about life with this struggle.
It is for this reason that the website The Mighty turned to their mental health community, asking, “What’s one ‘habit’ you have because you have low self-esteem? What helps you combat it?” The answers received were revealing, allowing those who have never been in their shoes to better understand the struggle, while simultaneously helping others to feel as though they aren’t alone.
Here are 25 habits of low self-esteem as revealed by the mental health community:
#1 – “Fishing for compliments. My brain knows I don’t need someone else’s approval/affirmation/etc., but sometimes I’m desperate to hear there’s something good about me.” – Autumn S.
#2 – “Letting myself feel neglected. Overworking and over-stressing for no reason. Always feeling like a failure. I combat it by talking about how these habits make me feel and change how I function to work with the advice I’m given.” – Kristi H.
#3 – “Rarely taking pictures because I hate myself that much. I post pictures once every blue moon because it is horrible for me. I tend to stay away from people a lot, especially in group chats where I just don’t talk/leave.” – Marii D.
#4 – “Wondering whether people really want to talk to me or if they’re just being nice and secretly pity me for being too boring and awkward. Canceling plans because social interaction gets exhausting because of this.” – Mary J.
#5 – “When I get compliments, like, ‘You look nice today,’ I say stuff like, ‘No, I don’t’ or ‘Stop lying’. I have a hard time simply saying, ‘Thank you’. And an even harder time accepting it as truth. I often use self-deprecating humor, and crack jokes about my flaws pre-emptively.” – Alexis R.
#6 – “I tend to think there is a motive behind someone talking to me or being nice to me. That if they compliment me they must be pitying me or it’s some cruel joke. I try to remind myself that I see myself through a distorted lens and just because I hate every aspect of me doesn’t mean others do as well.” – Alexandria T.
#7 – “Staying inside, isolating myself to an extreme level. I’m still trying to find ways to combat it right now, but I’ll get there.” – Ashley M.
#8 – “I wear clothes that are several sizes too large. This is enough of a problem that when I have had clothing made for me, the designer ha been struck silent/speechless at the size difference in what I want to order vs. what would fit me correctly. My person/best friend has helped me in recent years and goes with me when shopping and will gently but sternly have me wear and try on the clothes that are the correct fit and size.” – Aurora R.
#9 – “I apologize. A lot. I was always made to feel like I was a mistake and everything I did was wrong, so now I just apologize for everything, even stuff I haven’t done. I pass it off as a joke because I’m Canadian and it’s in my blood to be apologetic.” – Alysha P.
#10 – “I always think no one cares about me. I never ask for help because I think I will bother others with my things. I don’t accept compliments or even love from others because I feel I don’t deserve it.” – Carolina C.
#11 – “I ask questions I already know the answer to, because I doubt everything I do. I also refrain from speaking in groups for fear of sounding ‘stupid’, or having to explain something and falling short.” – Anik S.
#12 – “I try to avoid confrontations or debates because I feel that whatever I say isn’t enough or I’m not intelligent enough to back up my points. I suppose what helps combat that is rehearsing what I’m going to say. Writing everything down before I speak up.” – Kathereen P.
#13 – “I’m unable to make decisions because I don’t trust my own judgment. I don’t trust myself to do the right things or say the right things.” – Beth E.
#14 – “Putting down my accomplishments regardless of how impressive they are. I constantly say I haven’t done a lot but have been trying to constantly remind myself how many fears I’ve faced and things I’ve overcome to show myself I have a lot to be proud of. This year especially I’ve been working very hard to stay at a level of contentment with my mental health, have traveled for the first time and done a lot of great things in school so I try to focus on that instead of focusing on all o the failures.” – Kira M.
#15 – “I kind of sabotage myself to prove to me I am right. I also tend to diminish myself so that others don’t do it and I often feel that no one/very few people enjoy my company. What helps me is music, cinema and this particular thought: since you believe that people should love themselves no matter how they look, their accomplishments, etc.” – Monica M.
#16 – “This may be considered extreme, but I shower in the dark because I cannot bring myself to look at my body. I became an expert at being able to navigate through the dark. I also cannot directly look into a mirror or look directly at a picture of myself. I hate my looks.” – Melissa A.
#17 – “I wear clothes that make me look intimidating and unapproachable so people don’t talk to me because I hate the way I look and sound and feel that I just come across as annoying.” – Sam R.
#18 – “I have a habit of taking sarcasm as personal criticism, even when I know the other person is trying to be humorous and genuinely means no ill intent. This makes conversations with even close friends (or perhaps, *especially* close friends) somewhat uncomfortable.” – Cassandra E.
#19 – “Some days when I feel kind of empty from the week of work, I tend to make really mean comments about my body, personality, mean jokes about myself and looks in general to myself in my head. Sometimes what helps me feel better is to watch the videos and photos I have of my friends and I, to remember how much they love me and how much they mean to me.” – Rocio I.
#20 – “Self-depreciating jokes. I always try to bring humor into my issues, and it makes people really uncomfortable.” – Samantha G.
#21 – “I either avoid all possible contact with mirrors, or I am obsessed with staring at myself in the mirror, picking myself apart piece by piece, looking at all my imperfections and thinking what I need to do to change them… I try to combat this by being really positive about other plus-sized women, or others who look different and are confident in their skin. It helps me to feel normal and less alone.” – Chloe L.
#22 – “A habit is not making plans with others or goals for myself because fear I’ll fail again and again. Not having confidence to succeed and therefore not even trying anymore. Isolating myself is my coping mechanism.” – Todd B.
#23 – “I’m surprised when people remember my name, as I never consider myself important enough to be remembered. I also put myself off for applying for jobs because I assume I’m not good enough, so I just put up with being unhappy at work.” – Aleksandra T.
#24 – “I devalue my time and talents. I am a horrible business person because I feel guilty asking a fair price for my time and talents. I often give away things because I don’t feel worth of getting compensated. It costs me my bottom line.” – Martha F.
#25 – “Completely avoid social interactions with people I don’t know very well. No eye contact, I won’t talk unless spoken to and even then I won’t continue conversations. Why would people want to talk to me? They’re probably just waiting to get away from the conversation so there is no point.” – Ella C.