Most of us start out life with blank slates for personalities.
But sadly, things often go downhill.
Something down the line–perhaps an abusive partner, an overly critical parent or relative, maybe a traumatic life experience or two–can change who we are fundamentally.
The point is, feelings of low esteem can surface for various reasons and manifest in just as many (unhealthy) ways.
In this article, I’ll go over the behaviors a man displays when he has low self-esteem.
If this sounds like you, then read on.
Once you recognize the signs, you can actively take steps to address them.
Let’s dive in!
1) He is too self-critical
The confident person knows that with every mistake, there comes a silver lining.
Hence, they often consider their shortcomings as a real means of growth.
They don’t dwell excessively or get too self-critical about the occasional failure.
Confident men instinctively know the game plan: charge it to experience, don’t look back, and come back stronger.
Men with low esteem, however, tend to put an inordinate amount of focus and attention on their perceived mistakes, inadequacies, and flaws.
They beat themselves up about it, which reinforces their defeatist, low self-worth mentality.
In fact, they may even evade situations or relationships due to fear of being rejected or not measuring up, losing valuable opportunities in the process.
2) He gets overly defensive
Nobody is perfect.
The truth is, all of us could do with a bit of feedback to help maximize our potential; thus most people are able to handle criticism in stride.
The man lacking self-esteem though typically takes anything resembling negative feedback as a personal affront, even though that’s almost never the intention.
Their foundations are so delicate that they try to overcompensate by acting hostile and defensive and feeling unnecessarily affected.
3) He is a people pleaser
On the other end of the spectrum, low self-esteem can also manifest as a desire to be in everyone’s good graces.
They might continuously seek everyone’s approval–something that gives them a fleeting sense of emotional fulfillment.
They also avoid confrontation at all costs, even if it comes at a personal expense.
Confrontation, after all, represents the fact that someone might not view them favorably, the thought of which they cannot stomach.
This aversion to conflict means avoidance of voicing personal opinions or beliefs; they are perpetually apprehensive of ruffling feathers.
I know people who pride themselves on the fact that they’re “friends with everyone.”
They like the idea of being universally well-loved and popular and constantly have to be surrounded by people, regardless of who.
For me, this is the type of babyish behavior that is best left in high school.
To strive to be everyone’s friend is an impractical and superficial quest, also one distinctly lacking in authenticity.
Personally, I’d rather have a handful of close friends than a million vapid acquaintances and fake friends, even if it means making a few enemies.
Take it from UK wartime PM Winston Churchill: “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
4) He has difficulty setting boundaries
Real talk: The man with low self-esteem levels often struggles to put his foot down and say “No” to others.
And like predators sensing an easy kill, people from all walks of life–business partners, family, friends, spouses, and so on–do not think twice about taking full advantage of this perceived weakness.
In a relationship, for instance, your wife might almost entirely dictate your choices and be domineering, while you meekly retreat to the background.
I like to think of most humans as good, but when you make yourself vulnerable by not effectively setting boundaries, the temptation to use you will be too powerful to resist for many people.
5) He withdraws socially
This is an obvious one.
A man with low self-esteem might opt not to partake in social situations.
They tend to grow anxious and uneasy in social settings as they fear being judged or ridiculed.
This means they often keep to themselves, holed up in isolation, letting their existing negative feelings fester even more.
This somewhat fatalistic mentality carries on to other aspects of their life, such as avoiding new challenges and taking risks–that nagging fear of failure and rejection constantly hovers over them.
6) He places an overemphasis on appearance
You know a man’s self-esteem is in the gutter when he’s overly concerned about his physical appearance.
Do you know how teenage boys act excessively self-conscious about how they look?
Well, the low self-esteem man has a similar mindset.
He has sadly been burned in the past, perhaps by critical parents or unkind school bullies, and is now lacking in confidence–a realm that very much extends to his looks.
Hence, he needs frequent validation and assurance about his appearance.
He might obsessively check himself out in the mirror or scour the web for the latest style trends so he can copy.
Maybe he even gets the odd compliment and likes it; but once those good feelings wear off, he’ll invariably need a top-up.
7) He frequently compares himself to others
Instead of being content with his accomplishments, the man with self-esteem issues often won’t be completely satisfied until he has it better than his peers.
He may deny it, but measuring his self-worth against others is a way of life for him.
He doesn’t like to see others succeed as, in his mind, it detracts from his own achievements.
This isn’t just healthy competition, it signifies envy and resentment.
He may even go to great lengths like purchasing a flashy car or house just to satisfy his endless pursuit of material or financial superiority.
In some ways, he’s the living embodiment of this famous quote by Dave Ramsey: “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
8) He over apologizes
When you’re constantly saying “sorry” even in situations where sorry isn’t warranted, it pretty much confirms your insecurity to the outside world.
You feel frequently inadequate and your speech patterns reflect that mental state.
You may think you’re being polite, but those efforts can backfire; people can read between the lines and may even consider you disingenuous.
By excessively apologizing, you’re reinforcing feelings of incompetence and a lack of belief in your abilities.
Remember: you’re an interesting person with a lot to bring to the table… start speaking like it.
The good news is that you are still very much in a position to fix things.
Nobody is perfect–once you start absorbing this and embrace your inherent individuality and uniqueness instead of rejecting it, you’ll be in decent shape.
Don’t expect an overnight shift–realigning your foundations as a person and unlearning deeply embedded behaviors takes time, effort, and patience.
But with a bit of commitment, I have no doubt in my mind, you’ll get there.
Dating that beautiful girl or getting that dream job isn’t just for other people, you have the power to make it your reality.
Take baby steps. Celebrate your victories along the way.