11 habits of people who overcompensate for low self-worth

Developing a sense of self-worth can be tricky. If someone doesn’t believe they deserve to have a healthy sense of self-worth, then they won’t work to develop it.

Or they may not even be aware that they have low self-worth because they don’t know what having a healthy sense of self-worth looks like.

Instead, they tend to overcompensate for it, resorting to behaviors that cover up their insecurities. They do this to still seem normal and confident to other people.

These are 11 of the most common ones. Read on so you can better spot and understand people—or even yourself.

Here are the 11 habits of people who overcompensate for low self-worth.

1) They don’t take risks

The truth is that we all have to take risks in life. If we don’t, we’ll always stay in place, in our comfort zone, and we’ll never grow.

It’s simple, really: the more risks you take, the more opportunities will be shown to you.

Unfortunately, having a low self-esteem and self-worth makes people apprehensive of taking risks. They always tell themselves:

What if I’m not good enough?

What if I screw up?

What if it doesn’t work out?

This is why they’re averse to things like job-hopping, trying out new hobbies, or seeking out new people to meet or date.

Because of this fear, it’s difficult for them to reach their true potential.

2) They try to do too much

People who think lowly of themselves will try to do a lot to hide or make up for their low self-worth.

This can manifest in countless ways:

  • Low self-confidence? They’ll boast excessively;
  • Insecure about the size of their social circle? They’re overly friendly;
  • Insecure about their social status? They’ll work excessively or buy too many luxuries;
  • Insecure about people not liking them? They’re overly generous to them;
  • Unhappy with their looks? They try too hard to be funny.

These behaviors are defense mechanisms. They essentially try way too hard to hide an internal deficiency through exaggerated external actions.

It can be easy to judge people who act this way as egotistical attention-grabbers or wannabe martyrs.

But they just might be struggling with self-worth issues. It pays to be compassionate and give them the benefit of the doubt.

3) They’re anti-social

A low sense of self-worth leads to low self-confidence. And when you don’t have good confidence, you’re typically extremely shy or even anti-social

A person with low self-worth may think of themselves as not being worthy of the time and attention of others. 

But this is actually a vicious cycle.

The more they isolate themselves, the worse they’ll feel—the lower their sense of self-worth plummets. After all, we human beings are social animals. We need to be connected to other people for our well-being.

Then, as their self-worth lowers, they’ll interact with others less and less.

4) They crave attention

We all know someone like this, right? They try to take the spotlight whenever they can. They always brag about their accomplishments or redirect the conversation to them. 

While some people with low self-worth will be anti-social and extremely reserved, others will go out of their way to get attention.

Because they fail to see themselves as significant or have deep-seated insecurities, they instead try to seek validation from others

They have a hard time seeing themselves as worthy, so they’ll rely on other people to tell them they’re worth something.

5) They compare themselves to others

sabotaging your own success in life 1 11 habits of people who overcompensate for low self-worth

One of the main reasons why people have low self-worth or constantly talk negatively about themselves is because they often compare themselves to others.

The comparisons can either be the cause of low self-worth or its effect. Or probably both—which, again, makes the whole issue cyclical.

These people think that in order to be worthy of anything, they must be as good or even better than people around them. They fail to realize they have inherent worth just as human beings.

Because of these comparisons, they’ll:

  • Be overly competitive. They constantly try to one-up everyone. They gain satisfaction and self-worth from being better than others instead of having a healthy internal sense of self-esteem. Or;
  • Give up completely. When they see other people being successful, they immediately put themselves down, thinking that they’re never going to be good enough to be like them. Or;
  • Make others feel bad about their success. To release the negative emotions, they’ll try to make others feel bad about their accomplishments. “At least one of us got promoted” is something I’ve said before to a friend and boy, I regret it.

6) They lack grace

When someone lacks self-worth, it affects every interaction they have with other people. In my experience, they typically don’t conduct themselves gracefully.

Instead, they’re often nervous, fidgety, or even rude. It’s like they’re always on their toes. It’s like they’re always in survival mode.

This makes them merely awkward at best, but they can be downright mean at worst. It’s, therefore, hard to work with them in group settings. People are averse to them, which then worsens their self-esteem.

7) They’re perfectionists

Some so-called perfectionists don’t realize that their obsessive pursuit of perfection (even in the little, inconsequential things) is rooted in self-esteem issues.

They think that it’s a quirky personality trait or that it’s just a sign of how seriously they take their work.

While those can be true, I’ve found that many perfectionists may have their self-worth based on how flawless they think they need to be.

They feel like one mistake, or that one flaw in their personality is an indictment against their whole character. They view perfection as the bare minimum—anything less is not worth anything.

8) They practice negative self-talk

Someone with an extremely low sense of self-worth may engage in negative self-talk. Simply put, they’re their own harshest critic.

They’ll beat themselves up after making mistakes (which they think they do often, even if it’s not necessarily the case). 

“Ugh, why am I so [insert negative adjective here]?” is something they’ll tell themselves often.

Or they’re constantly belittling themselves, throwing themselves a pity party 24/7. They’re constantly telling themselves that they’re not:

  • Good enough;
  • Smart enough, 
  • Attractive enough;
  • Social enough;
  • Skilled enough;
  • Likeable enough;

…or anything enough, really.

This is one of the most destructive things anyone can do. And again, it’s a vicious cycle.

If you talk to yourself negatively, the more your self-worth decreases, which makes you practice negative self-talk even more often and more intensely. 

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

9) They’re overly critical of others

Because these people are overly critical of themselves, they extend the same attitude to others.

They focus on the negatives of other people and project their own insecurities onto them. It’s the main way they can redirect their attention away from the difficulty of their own internal struggles.

While it averts their gaze away from their pain, it’s only temporary relief. It doesn’t help them, and they even end up hurting other people in the process.

10) They self-sabotage

self sabotage 11 habits of people who overcompensate for low self-worth

As you can see, people with low self-worth tend to engage in self-destructive behaviors

Because they believe they’re not worth anyone’s love or attention—including themselves—they constantly self-sabotage.

They’ll do things like:

  • Pick nonsensical fights with loved ones;
  • Refuse to perform at work;
  • Actively do things that are bad for their health, like excessively smoking or drinking.

These are not rational, yes. Why would anyone do this? 

But that’s the whole point. Negative emotions about oneself lead to negative actions toward oneself.

11) They don’t practice self-care

In the same vein, people with low self-worth will typically neglect self-care. In fact, they might refuse it outright.

They may either focus on doing good for others (to seek attention and validation) or they’re willfully neglecting it as part of their self-sabotage practices.

Common ways people do this include:

  • Refusing to eat;
  • Sabotaging their sleep schedules;
  • Binge-eating;
  • Not taking maintenance medicine;
  • Ignoring their physical or mental health issues;
  • Not allowing themselves to rest.

It’s a way to punish themselves for not being as good as they think they should be.

Why extremely insecure people can be hard to deal with

We all have insecurities—it’s as human as having emotions!

However, when taken to the extreme, it can cause problematic and destructive behaviors that make it hard to interact or form relationships with them.

It leads to emotional dysregulation, toxicity, or even abusive or self-abusive behaviors. 

These behaviors may include but are not limited to:

  • They are self-conscious about what others think of them.
  • They never speak up.
  • They have difficulty making decisions.
  • They can’t execute on their plans.
  • They put other people down to raise themselves up.
  • They constantly seek attention.
  • They gaslight you or perform other toxic behaviors.

To conclude

We all have insecurities, some of us more than others.

But nobody chooses to have low self-worth. If you think this article described you in one way or another, don’t mistake it as a piece that’s meant to shame or shun you.

Instead, my goal is to spread awareness and foster compassion. I, too, have had crippling self-esteem issues that I’m still working on.

And if you finished this article, it looks like you’ve already developed some self-awareness—and that’s the first and most important step towards growth and change!

Remember that you’re worth it even if you don’t think so yourself.

Picture of Anna Dovbysh

Anna Dovbysh

With 8 years of writing experience and a deep interest in psychology, relationship advice, and spirituality, Anna’s here to shine a light on the most interesting self-development topics and share some life advice. She's got a Master's Degree in International Information and is a life-long learner of writing and storytelling. In the past, she worked on a radio station and a TV channel as a journalist and even tought English in Cambodia to local kids. Currently, she's freelancing and traveling around the globe, exploring new places, and getting inspired by the people she meets and the stories they tell. Subscribe to her posts and get in touch with her on her social media: Facebook & LinkedIn

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