5 things you’re doing that signal you have low self-worth, according to psychology

Low self-esteem can show up in sneaky, subtle ways. 

It’s not always about feeling down or thinking you’re not good enough…

Sometimes, low self-worth manifests in behaviors that you might not immediately recognize as such. 

And trust me, in our social world, it’s easy to think everyone else has their life perfectly together. You might think you’re the only one falling short. 

But this isn’t true. 

If you’re guilty of any of these behaviors, I urge you to stop:

1) You have a hard time celebrating birthdays… and any other achievements

You know how some people throw these epic parties or get super excited about their special day? 

If you’re someone who can’t get excited, it might be about more than just not liking a fuss…

Many people who have low self-esteem have a hard time celebrating birthdays – or any achievement, really. 

Get a promotion? Land a big client? Finishing a challenging project?

These are all huge wins!

You shouldn’t be brushing them off, thinking they’re not worth mentioning. 

And if you do, it could be because deep down, you might believe these accomplishments are just flukes

When you don’t celebrate these kinda moments or birthdays, you’re basically telling yourself you’re not important and that your successes don’t matter. 

It’s like robbing yourself of a chance to build up your self-worth.

And over time, this creates a cycle where you feel less and less deserving of recognition, reinforcing those feelings of low self-worth. 

Here’s the thing: every birthday, every achievement, no matter how big or small, is a chance to remind yourself of your value. 

Celebrating doesn’t mean throwing a massive party or making a public announcement. 

It can be something small and personal, like treating yourself to your favorite takeout or just taking a day off. 

It’s all about reminding yourself that you are worth celebrating because, at the end of the day, you are, and you deserve to feel good about yourself. 

I know this might be hard to hear… especially if you really have low self-esteem. 

Because if you do,…

2) You don’t know how to accept a compliment

Compliments are always meant to make us feel good, even when they come from someone with ill intentions. 

But if you struggle with self-worth, it probably feels uncomfortable receiving any.

You see, when you don’t believe you deserve praise, accepting a compliment can be incredibly hard. 

Instead of saying, “Thank you,” you might downplay your efforts or redirect the compliment to someone else. You might even reject it outright. 

This type of reaction comes from a deep-rooted belief that you’re not as good as others see you. 

It’s like there’s a disconnect between how others see you and how you see yourself. 

You might think that if people really knew you, they wouldn’t be saying these nice things about you. 

So, to avoid feeling like a fraud, you push compliments away

But here’s some truth: learning to accept compliments can boost your self-esteem over time. It’s a small but powerful way to start aligning your self-perception with how others see you. 

It might feel awkward at first, but with practice, accepting compliments gets easier. 

Think of it as training your brain to recognize and accept positive feedback. 

The next time someone compliments you, take a deep breath, smile, and simply say, “Thank you.”

3) You constantly compare yourself with others

Comparison can be a thief of joy, and it’s especially sneaky because it happens so naturally…

Ever scroll through social media and think, “Why isn’t my life like that?”

That’s comparison in its simplest form. 

Whenever you measure your life or worth against someone else’s highlight reel, you end up feeling inadequate and unworthy. 

Yet, most of us do it daily. 

And it’s a huge sign of low self-worth. 

When you’re unsure of your own value, looking at others becomes a way to determine how you stack up. 

But it’s easy to forget that social media often shows a curated version of reality, not the whole picture. 

And the only person you’re supposed to compare yourself to is the person you were yesterday. 

It can be hard, but shifting your focus from others to yourself can make a world of difference. 

You should remind yourself that your journey is unique and what works for someone else might not be right for you. 

Also, recognize your own achievements and progress, no matter how small they seem. 

Any growth is worth celebrating. 

4) You set unrealistic expectations for yourself

man low self worth 5 things you're doing that signal you have low self-worth, according to psychology

According to psychology, another giveaway sign of low self-esteem is setting unachievable goals for yourself. 

And this connects back to comparing yourself with others…

When you see someone having or doing something you might want, it’s okay to set goals and pursue them, too. 

But if you’ve never been to the gym, you can’t expect to look like a fitness model after two training sessions. 

And if you’ve never done a remodeling job, you can’t expect to redo your kitchen perfectly on the first try. 

Setting the bar so high that it’s impossible to reach sets you up for failure. 

If you constantly do this, you might have low self-esteem. 

This is why:

When you don’t feel good about yourself, you might think that consistently achieving more and being perfect is the only way to prove your worth. 

It’s like you’re trying to compensate for feelings of inadequacy by aiming for perfection. 

But here’s what actually happens: your expectations are often so high that you can’t even reach them on your best days. And failing then reinforces the negative beliefs you already have about yourself. 

You need to give yourself permission to be human. 

Accept that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and be okay with not excelling at everything. 

Setting small, realistic goals will reduce the pressure you put on yourself and help you build a healthier sense of self-worth as you reach them. 

5) You isolate yourself when you think you’re not good enough

Have you ever retreated into your shell, convinced you weren’t measuring up?

This could be because of comparison or not having reached a goal you set…

Maybe you’ve canceled plans, ignored calls, or avoided social situations because you felt you weren’t worthy or enough.

Guess what? 

Isolating yourself when you think you’re not good enough is a classic sign of low self-esteem.

When you don’t believe in your own worth, being around others can feel overwhelming. 

You might fear judgment or feel like you don’t belong, so withdrawing seems like the safer option. 

It’s like you’re trying to hide your flaws from the world. 

But while a little alone time can be healthy, isolating yourself completely can actually make things worse.

Isolation creates a vicious cycle. The more you pull away, the less you engage with the world and the people who care about you. 

Feelings of loneliness build up, and you end up thinking you aren’t worth anyone’s presence…

But here’s the truth: everyone has moments of doubt and insecurity. 

It’s a normal part of being human. 

When you isolate yourself, you deny yourself the chance to see that others struggle too, and you miss out on the support and perspective that friends can offer.

So, the next time you feel like hiding away, try to challenge that instinct

Reach out to someone you trust, even if it’s just to say hi or share how you’re feeling. 

You might be surprised at how understanding and supportive people can be. 

Opening up can also help you see that you’re not alone in your struggles and that your worth isn’t determined by whatever you think is wrong with you or your life. 

You don’t have to leap – just take a small step. 

Whether going out, celebrating a win, or setting a smaller goal towards your bigger one. 

You are good enough just as you are and deserve to be part of the world around you.

Show yourself some compassion. And before you know it, you’ll realize that you’re worthy.

 

 

 

Picture of Natasha Combrink

Natasha Combrink

Nats is a writer who loves creating content for purposeful brands. She enjoys spending time outdoors, crafting, and diving down rabbit holes. After rediscovering life, she wants to help others live to their full potential. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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