Secretly Have Low Self-Esteem?

by Andrea Blundell
Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

1. Don't mistake confidence for self-esteem.

Confidence is about how capable we think we are, and it can vary by area of life. We might, for example, be very confident at work, but not so confident when it comes to dating.

Self-esteem is made of the deep-rooted beliefs we have about ourselves, often formed as a result of childhood experience. And these beliefs affect everything we do.

So being confident in many areas of life doesn’t discount you from secretly having low self-esteem. In fact an overfocus on confidence and acheivement is a common tactic to hide a secret belief we are flawed.

2. Listen carefully to your thoughts.

Self-esteem is nothing to do with what others think of you, and everything to do with what YOU think about you.

If you take the time to tap into your thoughts and they are full of:

  • self-deprecation
  • self-criticism
  • constant comparison to others
  • and self-doubt?

Then you have low self-esteem.

3. Look out for worry, anxiety, and guilt.

High self worth sees us have trust in life itself. Low self-worth, on the other hand, means we question everything. Worry and anxiety become a crutch.

We also question our very selves. So we blame ourselves, even for things that are beyond our control, and drown in guilt.

4. Watch your response to intimacy.

Avoiding intimacy is a sign of low self-esteem. We don't believe we are worthy just as we are, and we are afraid to let anyone else get close enough to discover all our 'flaws'.

So yes, you might have many friends, but do they know the real you? Or do you hide who you are, seem to have a different personality for each social group you engage with, or sometimes question who you are at all?

5. And then there is what you say to other people.

Are you hard on those who are close to you? It might be a case of psychological projection. We feel bad about ourselves, but aren’t at the point of being able to be honest about it. So we put it on those around us.

We criticise and judge. We call the other person lazy, because deep down we think we are.

6. Find the truth in the jokes you make.

Constantly make jokes where you are the punch line? Or are your ‘jokes’ ways to put people down and practise projection? Both might signal a case of low self-esteem.

7. Face up to self-destructive behaviours.

Kill it at work all day, but come home and spend each night getting high and drunk? Seem perfect to others, but secretly cut yourself, or engage in another form of self-harm?

Self-destructive behaviours are a red flag that your self-esteem is very low and you need to seek support.

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