Ask anyone to define confidence, and the answer will inevitably differ from person to person.
Just Google it, and you’ll see what I mean.
It can represent anything from mutual trust, self-assuredness, pride, or even a solid state of mind.
However you choose to categorize it, though, we all want it!
And why not? Being confident can be deeply empowering.
Not only can confidence boost your self-esteem, but it plays a vital role in your personal growth. It also gets things done.
But it doesn’t come easy to all of us. And it can be a tricky topic to broach, especially when gender bias is involved.
Have too much, and you’ll be labeled as smug or bossy. Have too little, and you risk selling yourself short or looking weak.
If you, or a woman you know, are struggling with confidence issues, here are eight habits to look out for.
1) She constantly seeks approval from others
Is she constantly looking at you for answers? Or maybe she frequently checks her socials for likes?
If so, she probably lacks confidence. And she’s in desperate need of validation.
It could be small, like asking, “Does this sound okay,” before clicking send or confirming, “Am I doing the right thing,” when making the tiniest decision.
But if she’s always waiting for your opinion before she acts, that seemingly innocent habit becomes toxic and unhealthy.
Sure, it’s okay to have doubt – it’s in our nature. But continually second-guessing yourself can be exhausting. Not just for them, but for you too.
And it could be a sign of emotional challenges such as anxiety, depression, or codependency.
Most of all, this approval-seeking behavior and persistent need for reassurance aren’t doing her self-esteem any good.
And if she doesn’t learn to respect her own judgment, she’ll never be able to grow as a person.
Because chances are, you’re not always going to be there to tell her what to do.
2) She can’t stop apologizing for every little thing
When I was younger, I used to apologize for apologizing. Ridiculous, I know.
It became instinctive to say “sorry” for the most minuscule of things – even if it wasn’t my fault! And after a while, it became a reflex more than a conscious thought. Annoying, right?
Now hear me out.
I’m not saying apologizing is terrible. But looking back, I probably could have gotten away with saying it a little less. Okay, a lot less!
And according to experts, I’m not alone. In fact, it’s scientifically proven that women apologize more than men.
The reason? Well. Apparently, men and women have very different ideas about which behavior warrants an apology. And that same study found that women display a much lower threshold compared to men.
But while gender can have a bearing, excessive over-apologizing can be indicative of a much larger problem.
3) She has difficulty asserting her boundaries
Whether it’s at work or home, setting boundaries is an important part of forming interpersonal relationships.
These boundaries could be physical, emotional, sexual, material, intellectual, or even work-related.
But for some women, asserting themselves can be a struggle. And saying “no” can stir up feelings of anxiety and unease. Particularly if they suffer from low confidence.
This could be due to a fear of confrontation. They worry that by laying it all on the line, they risk offending or upsetting someone else.
Or possibly, it’s because she feels as though setting her own limits simply isn’t valid.
Either way, this lack of self-worth can have a lasting effect on an individual’s mental well-being. And until she (or you) gains the confidence to communicate effectively, everyone loses.
4) She avoids eye contact like the plague
Of course, a big part of how we communicate is through nonverbal cues. And the way someone acts can often reveal their emotions.
At least, that’s the theory.
Be it the raising of an eyebrow, a smile, or basic eye contact, it’s believed that 55% of nonverbal communication is made up of facial expressions.
So avoiding eye contact can be very telling.
It’s not necessarily a negative response or that they’re being deceitful. But if she struggles to look others directly in the eye, it’s likely because social situations make her shy.
Let me explain.
While some of us thrive in the spotlight. For others, being the center of attention can be extremely uncomfortable.
And they want nothing more than to shrink up and disappear into the background to avoid being judged or scrutinized.
Aptly named the spotlight effect, this phenomenon isn’t unique. Far from it.
In fact, it’s common for us to believe more people are watching us than they actually are.
This brings us to our next point.
5) She won’t stop twirling her hair (or sit still)
Like eye contact, body language can warn others that we’re uncomfortable.
And it’s not just limited to facial expressions.
Gesturing, constant fidgeting, touching, and having a closed-off posture can all signal that she’s feeling nervous or anxious.
Perhaps she keeps playing with her hair, biting her nails, or tapping her foot. Or maybe she’s simply sitting there with her arms crossed and guarded.
These subconscious, self-soothing movements all point to unease and low self-awareness.
And these bad habits are a massive red flag when identifying if someone lacks confidence.
The good news is, that by becoming more self-aware and adopting a positive mindset, these behaviors can be reversed. For instance, the simple act of sitting up straight has been proven to boost confidence.
6) Compliments make her uneasy
Getting a compliment is nice, right? Well, not for everyone.
It’s not that she doesn’t want to be told, “You look good today,” or “You did a good job.” In fact, deep down, she longs for approval from others.
But it’s the perfect example of a double-edged sword!
The problem is that her confidence (or lack thereof) is getting in the way. And it’s difficult for her to accept that the positive feedback she just received is genuine.
Of course, it’s not solely about appearance or vanity.
If she struggles with confidence, she also likely downplays her achievements. Often attributing her accomplishments and success to “luck”.
Or in some cases, she may divert the praise (and attention) onto someone else, to escape the limelight. And in the process, she can avoid being outed as, in her mind, a “fraud” or “imposter”.
7) She has a perfectionist mentality
Let’s face it. We’ve all had a wobble in confidence here and there.
And as a woman in her (cough) late thirties who still gets clammy every time the phone rings, I can personally attest to that.
But it’s how we deal with our confidence issues that make all the difference.
And if she’s always fixated on “getting it perfect” or “messing things up” to the point where nothing gets done, it becomes a problem. Especially if she keeps comparing and holding herself to others’ standards.
In fact, researchers claim that there’s a big difference between striving for excellence and perfectionism.
The latter being compared to a mental illness by some experts.
So if you know someone who constantly holds themselves to impossible standards, you’ll understand why they may feel inadequate or unworthy of praise.
8) She doesn’t have an opinion
We all know at least one person who’s about as neutral as a piece of cardboard.
Not only do they never have an option of their own, but they’re overly agreeable.
And honestly, it can get pretty infuriating at times.
C’mon lady, just tell us what you want! Pepperoni or cheese?
Is she really that bland and indecisive? Or is she hiding her true feelings to avoid offending you?
The thing is. Until she gains some confidence, you may never truly know what she thinks.
But while low self-esteem can be damaging, being too nice can have its advantages. And it doesn’t automatically make her a pushover.
If you find yourself or a friend falling into the people-pleaser trap, just remember, it’s okay to disagree sometimes. It’s all about finding balance.