7 subtle habits that indicate a low level of self-confidence

Have you ever wondered how to tell if someone has low self-confidence? Or perhaps you’re worried that you are accidentally letting others know about your insecurities? 

Many different habits might be giving you away. But they don’t have to!

Read on to find out what they are and what you can do to change them.

1) Hesitating before expressing yourself

Do you often notice yourself hesitating, before expressing your opinions or ideas, fearing they might not be well-received? 

This can be an indicator that you have a low level of self-confidence because you are worried about how people will react and what others might think about you. 

Worrying about what others think is very common. Something that I used to do a lot. I would change my opinions depending on whom I was speaking with. But that wasn’t authentic, that wasn’t the real me. 

But then, one day, I had an epiphany. I realized that I don’t like or agree with everyone else’s opinions, and that’s okay, so it doesn’t matter if others don’t agree with mine. Once I understood this, I gained the confidence to speak up for myself and what I believed in more frequently. 

It takes time, but with practice, and the right people around, you can drop this habit, and gain more self-confidence.

2) Constant apologizing

Are you always apologizing to everyone, even for trivial matters? As if you assume responsibility for everything that goes wrong? I have, and I have noticed when others do it too.

Just the other day, a friend of mine apologized to me because I’d been woken up early in the morning by the lawnmower next door. This friend does not live next door, nor was she the person mowing their lawn at 7 am. 

It happens to me often, but my favorite apology experience has to be when I’ve bumped into someone but they’ve been the one to say “sorry” to me. 

It’s another thing that a lot of people do, but constantly saying sorry doesn’t scream confidence. 

Instead of saying sorry for every little thing, try to express gratitude or acknowledge the situation positively. One thing I’ve learned is to swap the word ‘sorry’ for the word ‘thank you.’ “Thank you for waiting for me” makes you come across as more self-assured than, “Sorry for being late”. 

3) Downplaying achievements

Do you tend to downplay your achievements when discussing them with others, as if minimizing your successes?

In New Zealand and Australia, they call it “Tall Poppy Syndrome”. In Japan, it’s “the nail that sticks up gets hammered down”. People in The Netherlands say “Don’t put your head above ground level”.

In so many cultures people are taught not to be proud of the things they achieve. However, this not only depletes people’s confidence but also can affect future success. 

Because some people see being proud of achievements as arrogant, it can be easy to not mention or downplay them. However, if we embrace successes, this fosters motivation and self-appreciation, ultimately resulting in more confidence.

4) People pleasing

Do you have difficulty saying “no” and asserting boundaries, often putting the needs of others before your own?

When I was younger, I was the biggest people pleaser. I wanted everyone to like me all the time, and I was so worried about getting into trouble. But, just like how I didn’t agree with everyone’s ideas and opinions, I realized that I don’t like every single person I meet. So maybe I won’t be everyone’s cup of tea either. 

I still want to be liked by everyone, because don’t we all? However, it allowed me to cut out putting everyone else’s needs before my own and create a more independent and ultimately more confident version of myself – whom I am happy with today.

Often we think the word “no” is a bad word, and we don’t want to say it. But if you think about the most confident person you know, they probably say the word a lot. And for good reason. They are setting boundaries because they know that worthwhile people will stick around even if the answer this time is “No”.

5) Seeking constant validation

people with low self worth 7 subtle habits that indicate a low level of self-confidence

Are you prone to seeking constant reassurance from others, relying on external validation to feel a sense of worthiness? Have you seen the meme “Would you still love me if I was a worm”? But would you? What if I was a carrot? 

It sounds funny, but a quest for love and acceptance can reveal one’s insecurities.

Seeking constant validation is a huge indicator of low self-esteem and one that can be quite off-putting for a lot of people. When we are always searching for compliments or affection, attention or confirmation, instead of bringing us and that person closer together, we can begin to push them away. It’s draining for the other person, not to mention annoying, and is basically like having a neon sign over our heads saying “low self-confidence”.

So what do we do about it? A good place to start is to find out your attachment style. This can help you to figure out why you have created this habit and what steps to take to feel secure in yourself, ultimately not constantly craving validation. 

6) Compliments make you uncomfortable

Do you find it challenging to accept compliments gracefully, often deflecting praise or attributing success to external factors? 

Compliments can bring the most wonderful uplifting feelings for some, and absolute embarrassment for others. 

If you find that compliments make you or others feel uncomfortable, this can be a sign of low self-confidence. Often this stems from not being complimented as a child, and therefore, not knowing how to react. 

Compliments were hard to come by in my household when I was a child. Instead of praise, I was told that I had to try to do better, even when I did well. So, I had to learn how to receive compliments as I grew up.

I first started with the magic word, “Thank you”. This might sound easy, but for someone who found compliments awkward and uncomfortable, it was a challenge. But with each “Thank you,” something changed inside me. 

Then one day, I woke up not only loving a compliment but I also began to feel confident giving them to others as well.

7) Being self-critical

Are you overly self-critical, focusing on perceived flaws and mistakes rather than acknowledging your strengths? 

Here is another habit that may indicate low self-confidence.

If you were constantly criticizing a child, they would lose confidence in themself. They would become mopey and sad and probably have very few friends.

The same goes for us. If we are always down on ourselves, people will begin to avoid us. Because who wants to hang around with people who are putting themselves down all the time? Then, if people begin to avoid us, down goes our self-confidence.

No one can build you up but you. There’s a reason that many people get up in the morning and say positive affirmations. Have you noticed how self-assured these people seem?

All you need to do is to start by saying one positive thing about yourself, whether you believe it or not. “I am smart. I am amazing. I am beautiful. I am brave. I am a good friend,” etc.

Studies have shown that once this becomes a habit, your brain will believe that the things you’re telling it are true. 

So get out there and change your thought patterns, one positive affirmation at a time!

Louisa Lopez

Louisa Lopez

Louisa is writer, wellbeing coach, and world traveler, with a Masters in Social Anthropology. She is fascinated by people, psychology, spirituality and exploring psychedelics for personal growth and healing. She’s passionate about helping people and has been giving empowering advice professionally for over 10 years using the tarot. Louisa loves magical adventures and can often be found on a remote jungle island with her dogs. You can connect with her on Twitter: @StormJewel

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