3 Signs Low Self-Esteem Is Holding You Back (And What to Do About It)

Growing up, I had pretty low self-esteem.

I was an introvert with a bit of social anxiety and didn’t grow up with anyone ever telling me, “believe in yourself!”, “you can do it!” or “you’re amazing and I know you’ll do great things.”

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Photo Credit: Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

If I liked a girl, I was too shy to talk to her. If I got into a conflict with someone (which was rare, but you know, sometimes people just want to beat on someone to make themselves feel better), I chickened out. And if I ever loved to do something, I pulled back, afraid that I’d fail.

Low self-esteem can really hold you back. I know as well as anyone. However, there’s a lot you can do about it and many different strategies that work wonders for not just tricking yourself to be confident but actually attacking the root of the low self-esteem and overcoming it forever.

Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand-brake on.

– Maxwell Maltz

Signs low self-esteem is holding you back

How do you know if low self-esteem is holding you back?

I alluded to a few signs above, but here are the most common things to look out for:

1. You overthink your physical appearance

Most people with low self-esteem tirelessly overthink their appearance, staring at themselves for way too long in the mirror, trying on endless outfits, and then retrying on the same things, critical of every little detail about themselves in the process.

If this sounds like you, you probably have low self-esteem.

2. You hang around toxic people who treat you like crap

Do your “friends” call you names, criticize your decisions, and throw subtle jabs at you when you have even the smallest victory to bring you back down? Do you have a history of such friendships?

If these are the kinds of people you surround yourself with, there’s a good chance you have low self-esteem.

3. You never follow through with anything

If you have trouble following through with things, often quitting within just a few short months, that’s a sign you have very little belief in your own ability.

This is one of the more subtle signs of low self-esteem but it’s one of the most damaging behaviors associated with it because it will keep you from ever pursuing anything you have a passion for.

How to beat low self-esteem

Fortunately, as I alluded to above, there’s a lot you can do to tackle your low self-esteem and begin building up a foundation of confidence.

Here are some of the things that have helped me build my confidence over the years:

Build yourself up


We all believe in ourselves enough to go write down a small goal, make a phone call, or take one tiny step toward making something important to us happen.

One of the best ways I’ve found for overturning low self-esteem is in utilizing the momentum of motivation. And, if you can do any of the things I just listed, you can use this strategy.

The idea is that each and every successful action we take builds confidence. In the beginning, that confidence might not last long, but keep building on each proceeding successful action and, pretty soon, you’ll notice that sense of confidence becomes a part of you.

If you have a passion project you want to pursue, start by writing a goal down today along with taking one small action towards pursuing that goal like signing up for a class, purchasing a course, sending an email, or writing down a game plan. Tomorrow, take another small step towards that same goal that builds on the first action. The next day, do something of the same size or slightly larger.

Keep this up for as long as you can, continuing even if you miss a day or if things don’t always work out perfectly, and you’ll start to prove to yourself that you can make something happen, which will give you more confidence to take on larger things.

Celebrate every accomplishment

We have the tendency to beat ourselves up over every failure while forgetting everything we’ve ever done right.

I’m super guilty of this even now. However, I’m far better than I once was.

I’ve accomplished a lot over the past several years, however, I’m far from where I want to be. The thing is, though, I never reflected on what I had accomplished in the past and would only ever spend time thinking about what I had failed at or what I had still yet to accomplish.

The truth is, I’ve come a long way, and by recognizing that and celebrating those past victories I’m reminding myself of my own self-worth.

Stop comparing yourself to others

Sometimes, low self-esteem comes from past experiences convincing us that we’re worthless. Other times, it comes from the outside world.

Media outlets are often the prime source for these unrealistic comparisons, which make celebrities and successful people appear to have always been that gifted or high-performing.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that we’re looking at the result of years of hard work and struggle.

If you find yourself making such comparisons, the single most important thing you can do is disconnect from all channels of communication that continuously force you to compare yourself unfairly to others.

Instead, compare the you of today only to the you of yesterday to get an accurate idea of the progress you’ve made and to instill yourself with further confidence.


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