People who overcompensate for low self-worth often display these 9 behaviors

We all know someone who constantly brags about themself or tries to overshadow others with their achievements.

While it seems like plain arrogance on the surface, often, these are also signs of overcompensation for low self-esteem.

When someone is struggling with their self-worth, they might try to prove their value in ways that can be off-putting or even damaging.

And in this article, we’ll explore common behaviors displayed by those overcompensating for low self-worth.

As we discuss these behaviors below, remember that our goal is not to judge but to understand other people better and gain insight into the struggles they might be facing—so let us think of these people with the utmost empathy.

Let’s get started, shall we?

1) Constant need for validation

The most obvious sign of low self-worth is a constant need for validation. When someone doesn’t value themselves, they might seek external sources of validation to fill that void.

Consider someone who posts every moment of their life on social media, craving likes and comments.

Or someone who constantly fishes for compliments, unable to value their own accomplishments without the approval of others.

This desire for external validation is a common coping mechanism. 

2) Overcompensating with material possessions

I’ll never forget a friend of mine from college who was always the first to have the newest gadgets, the most expensive clothes, and the flashiest car.

I remember one day, he showed up to school in a brand-new luxury sports car. We were all in awe and a bit puzzled because we knew his family wasn’t wealthy.

When I asked him about it, he shrugged it off saying, “I just like nice things.”

As we got older, I realized that his constant need to have the latest and greatest wasn’t just about liking nice things. It was an attempt to overcompensate for his feelings of low self-worth.

He believed that having these material possessions would make him more valuable in the eyes of others. It was a way for him to mask his insecurities and feel better about himself.

This behavior is quite common among people who struggle with their self-esteem. This need to impress others with material possessions is not a character flaw, but a sign of their internal struggle.

3) Dominating conversations

Did you know that people with low self-worth often dominate conversations?

This behavior can be a way of overcompensating for their insecurities. Rather than allowing a balanced exchange, they might continually steer the conversation back to themselves or their achievements.

By monopolizing the conversation, they can control the narrative and present themselves in a certain light. They might even interrupt others or dismiss their input.

This behavior is doesn’t mean they are rude or unkind. It simply means they have a deep-seated fear of being insignificant or overlooked. 

4) Aggressive or defensive behavior

Aggression or defensiveness can often be a sign of someone overcompensating for low self-worth.

When someone is constantly on the defense or quick to attack, it might be because they’re trying to protect their fragile self-esteem.

They might perceive criticism or disagreement as a direct attack on their worth, leading to an aggressive response.

Similarly, they might initiate conflicts to assert their dominance or prove their worth. This can be an attempt to hide their insecurities and project an image of confidence and strength.

5) Overachieving and perfectionism

Perfectionism and overachievement can often be signs of overcompensation for low self-worth.

When someone places extreme high standards on themselves and is never satisfied with anything less than perfection, it could be a result of feeling inadequate or unworthy.

They might believe that they need to be perfect to be valuable or loved.

Similarly, constant overachievement can be a way of proving their worth to themselves and others. By always striving to be the best, they’re trying to validate their self-worth through their achievements.

These behaviors can lead to burnout and stress, so understanding them is crucial for promoting healthier ways of self-validation and self-love.

6) Difficulty accepting compliments

people who lack self esteem often display these behaviors People who overcompensate for low self-worth often display these 9 behaviors

Have you ever given a compliment to someone only to have them dismiss it or downplay their achievement?

This can be a telltale sign of low self-worth.

When someone struggles with their self-esteem, compliments can be hard to accept. They might feel undeserving or believe the compliment isn’t genuine.

They might also fear that accepting the compliment will lead to higher expectations that they won’t be able to meet.

It’s heartbreaking to see someone unable to see their own worth and accept the positive things others see in them.

By understanding this behavior, we can help reinforce their value and remind them of their worth in a gentle and consistent way.

7) Fear of failure

I remember a time when I was offered an amazing opportunity to lead a project at work. It was a huge step up for me, but instead of excitement, I felt an overwhelming fear of failing.

This fear was so intense that I almost turned down the opportunity.

Looking back, I realize that this fear stemmed from my struggle with self-worth. I was afraid that failing would confirm my self-doubts and expose my inadequacies.

It was an exhausting way to live, constantly fearing failure and never fully embracing opportunities.

People overcompensating for low self-worth often live with this fear. They might avoid challenges or opportunities because they’re afraid of failing and reinforcing their negative self-perceptions.

8) Sensitivity from criticism

Handling criticism can be tough for anyone, but for those overcompensating for low self-worth, it can be particularly challenging.

Any form of critique, no matter how constructive, may be perceived as an attack on their worth. They might become defensive or upset, or they might internalize the criticism, seeing it as proof of their inadequacy.

It’s important to be aware of this when offering feedback. Being gentle, supportive, and reinforcing their worth can help them accept criticism in a healthier way.

This understanding can foster better communication and help them grow and learn from feedback instead of fearing it.

9) Neglecting self-care

When someone is dealing with low self-worth, taking care of their physical and mental health often takes a backseat. They might feel unworthy of care or happiness, leading to neglect of their basic needs.

Whether it’s sleep, nutrition, relaxation, or seeking help when they’re struggling, these fundamental aspects of self-care might be ignored. It’s a heartbreaking reality for many people battling low self-esteem.

By recognizing this behavior, we can help encourage them to prioritize their wellbeing, reminding them that they are deserving of care and happiness just like everyone else.

Final thoughts: It’s all about compassion

Understanding human behavior is often a complex task, often requiring us to delve deep into each of our lives as people. What we see on the surface, the behaviors and actions, are often only the tip of the iceberg.

The behaviors associated with overcompensation for low self-worth are no exception. Behind these behaviors lie deeply ingrained feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.

Rather than passing judgment or making assumptions, let’s approach other people with compassion and understanding.

Let’s remind them that their worth is not defined by external validation or material possessions, but by their intrinsic human value.

By understanding and acknowledging their struggle, we can foster environments that help them recognize their own worth, and encourage them to embrace who they are, just as they are. 

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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