People who lack self-love often display these 8 behaviors (without realizing it)

It’s easy to get caught up in the humdrum and monotony of life… and lose your inherent identity in the process. 

We have one life to live; a fact that many of us take for granted, as we tediously watch the days pass us by. 

This shouldn’t be.

So take this as a cue to change things up. 

It’s high time you start owning your existence and autonomy; it’s time you start becoming a little more selfish.  It’s time to start living for you. 

In this article, I’ll go through the unconscious behaviors of people who lack self-love. If these items resonate with you, you’ll have a clearer picture of what needs adjusting. 

Let’s get to it!

1) They’re excessive people-pleasers 

A lack of self-love is often rooted in a lack of self-respect. 

We fear that upsetting people can emotionally open a can of worms, so we do our best to avoid that happening, often overcompensating as a result. 

This means we’ll sometimes take extraordinary measures just to try to please others and gain the approval we crave. 

We’ll put our needs and desires second (or third) just to appease someone and curry favor. 

The latter is the type of behavior that isn’t just a minor inconvenience to us, it can legitimately chip away at our collective self-worth over time. 

2) They have difficulty setting boundaries

An effective way of living for yourself is by setting clear boundaries and communicating them firmly. 

When you have no real boundaries, people tend to catch on. And many, like predators in the wild sensing a weak link, will not hesitate to take advantage. 

That’s right: some humans really do suck. 

By mastering the art of saying “no” and standing up for yourself, you’re communicating to the world that you can’t be pushed around any longer; and like clockwork, most will back off. 

So don’t let others take advantage of your kindness. Be gentle but firm.

People will respect you more for it. And most importantly, you’ll start respecting (and loving) yourself. 

3) They’re self-critical 

Remember, “to err is human.” In other words, there are few things more human than making the occasional mistake. 

People who lack genuine self-love tend to get too hard on themselves for their wrongs. 

Most genuinely confident folks out there take the odd blunder in stride, using it as fuel to bounce back stronger than before. 

They don’t dwell and ruminate unnecessarily. They move on, with new lessons in tow. 

When you lack self-love, engaging in harsh, internal criticism almost becomes a way of life. 

Instead of focusing on what can be improved on (or celebrating positive traits), you get caught up in a bitter cycle of self-loathing and self-defeat, as if your mistakes directly reflect your innate worth as a person. 

Not good. 

4) They compare themselves 

I won’t sugarcoat it: it can be difficult not to compare yourself to others these days, even when it’s done subconsciously. 

Sometimes, when I’m mindlessly scrolling through reels on my phone, I’ll see a kid fresh out of college supposedly making seven digits a year. 

Momentarily, their apparent success somehow detracts from my own situation in life.

In my mind, I feel that I too deserve that lifestyle; that life has somehow been unfair to me. But then I take a step back and begin to realize how dangerous the practice of comparing can be. 

There will always be someone doing “better” than you, particularly on social media platforms where everyone actively wants to one-up each other. The grass is always greener on the other side. 

So stop comparing; doing so can lead to feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, low self-esteem–the whole shebang. 

Growth is linear. You’re doing just fine. 

5) They neglect self-care 

lonely in old age People who lack self-love often display these 8 behaviors (without realizing it)

Having a good work ethic is impressive, even admirable. But if you don’t have balance in your life, it essentially means nothing. 

What’s the point of working twelve hours a day for a paycheck if you can’t truly enjoy life? 

Your time on this planet is finite, so make the most of it. 

This means regularly enriching and feeding your soul via self-care practices. Whether you care to admit it or not, the soul has both physical and emotional needs. 

Adequate sleep, a well-rounded diet, exercises, and getting in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment all add up. 

So if you haven’t already, it’s time to switch things up. Make it a point to incorporate regular self-care routines into your schedule. 

This can mean things like enrolling in a yoga class, cooking a recipe you saw on TikTok, taking a warm bath, or simply brisk walking your dogs on a cool afternoon. 

The possibilities are endless. 

6) They can’t handle compliments

People who lack self-love are aware that things like happiness and success exist, but they don’t truly believe they are deserving of them. 

In their heads, these concepts are mostly reserved for other people, not them. 

And hence, when they do achieve things of value in life, they don’t often fully acknowledge them, remaining excessively humble. 

Deficient self-love can manifest in an inability to gracefully accept compliments from other people. 

They might brush the praise off or feel uncomfortable (or worse, think the compliment-giver is being sarcastic) since good feedback simply doesn’t align with their self-perception. 

7) They have a deep fear of failure 

When you are self-assured and love yourself thoroughly, you tend to feel enough boldness to step outside your comfort zone. 

If things don’t work out, you just charge it to your experience and press on. You remain motivated. 

You don’t develop a deep aversion to new challenges or opportunities for fear of failure. 

This is quite the contrast to the person lacking self-love. The person with no self-love won’t often try new things, be it an exotic cuisine or pursuing a sound business opportunity. They have a lopsided fear of failure, of not being good enough. 

Any truly successful person (and I don’t just mean in the financial sense) will tell you that to achieve anything of legit value in this life always takes a degree of risk. 

In life, failure will always be in the cards. But if you let fear dictate how you live, you lose before even trying. 

8) They over-identify with roles or successes

When you let your professional success define you as a person, you’re not truly loving yourself. 

Basing one’s self-worth entirely on roles (say job titles or parental status) points to a kind of superficiality–one typically rooted in insecurity and a lack of self-love. 

Character is not defined by how many digits you have on your bank account, how fast you’ve climbed the corporate ladder or any other external achievements. 

Character is intrinsic.  I’ve met countless altruistic, kind-hearted blue-collar workers throughout the world. 

I’ve also met Audi-driving rich people who allow their success in life to almost exclusively define them and their values and outlook on life. 

You can take a wild guess as to whose company I prefer. 

Final words

Gaining self-love is a process. One that never really ends. 

So if you find yourself lacking in this respect, don’t fret. It really is never too late to change. 

As I mentioned, growth is linear. 

So take it a day at a time. Embrace the odd slip-up. Keep pushing forward. 

As long as you can wake up tomorrow being able to say you’re a better person (however marginal) than you were today, you’re in good shape.

Keep it up, and you’ll eventually be unstoppable. You got this. 

Picture of Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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