Subtle Signs of a Low Sense of Self-Worth

Self-worth is an appreciation for one’s own value, It’s a form of self-respect one accords oneself. We all tend to base our self-worth on something; for some it’s social status, for others it’s any personal skills and talent they possess, for some it’s money, for most it’s something that makes them unique and set them apart from others. Your sense of self-worth can affect your quality of life in many ways; It determines how you look and feel about yourself, how you look at other people and the quality of relationships you have with them.  It’s for that reason that everybody needs a healthy level of self-worth. When unbalanced it can be detrimental to your quality of life; an exaggerated sense of self-worth becomes a narcissistic obsession, a low self-worth causes low self-esteem and a poor self-image.

When imagining someone with low self-worth, one would picture a shy, withdrawn person in the corner somewhere, beating themselves about how everyone else is better than them. However, much as that’s the most conspicuous sign, there are subtler signs of low self-worth that are not immediately apparent, even to the victim. Sometimes it’s someone who seems to have their life all together; the star athlete, all round talented young man; or the smart, equally talented, all round pretty girl, sometimes it’s such people that have the lowest sense of self-worth. Here are a few subtle signs.

Perfectionism: Sometimes doing and achieving staff is an escape from a hollowness that can’t be filled, personal development can turn into a coping mechanism for a poor self-image. That’s when self-improvement turns toxic. To the perfectionist, nothing seems to be enough, every little ounce of gratitude for what they’ve already achieved is quickly sapped by the worry for what they haven’t. To them they are only worth it after hitting that point of perfection (which is often a really high bar). No matter how much people tell them, they are good enough, no matter how many people tell them that they don’t need to continue wearing yourself out trying to be more, there’s always still that hole that never seems to get filled. This is partly because a perfectionist usually sets extraordinarily high standards for themselves.

Search for identity: In everyone is a proclivity to attach their identity to something that makes them unique or special; It could be a special talent, or a personality trait, any thing that makes you feel outstanding. The unfortunate bit is that it’s unsustainable because of the simple fact that there is always someone better than you at whatever thing you think makes you unique and special. This trait is characterized by being overly competitive even when it comes to the smallest of things such as an argument. At an even worse extent, you start becoming envious at someone else’s progress because it feels like it deems your own shine and shadows your identity.

Avoidance of close relationships:

Another subtle indicator of a low sense of self-worth is avoidance of close relationships (may or may not be romantic relationships). Close relationships often require a certain level of openness and vulnerability to allow other people into your life. When your self-worth is low however, you tend to distance yourself from people; you fear if someone comes too close, they won’t like what they see, you reject yourself even before anyone else does. So it becomes safer to just have acquaintances, classmates, teammates or party mates than have actually close friends, or potentially have a romantic relationship. There’s always that feeling that you always have to work hard to be liked; like you have to earn your place in other peoples’ lives by how much you achieve and accomplish.

Naysayers: These are people that always cease the opportunity knock other’s down, some call them ‘haters’. We all know that one person whose aim is often to put others down, especially those trying to make something of themselves. Sometimes it’s conspicuous and in public, other times it’s subtle: they might just slip in a dispiriting comment into a conversation as a ‘joke’, sometimes it’s an internet troll. In most cases those are people dealing with their own insecurities; They compensate for their low self-image by at least stepping on someone else and it’s usually better if it’s someone lesser than them.

“Coming face-to-face with one’s glaring inadequacies depresses the sense of self-esteem. In order to salvage a sinking, sagging self-esteem, one compares oneself to others where comparison is favorable. Criticizing elevates ones lowered sense of self.” Design for wholeness by sofield, Juliano, Hammet.

At its roots, one of the major causes of a low sense of self-worth is a dissatisfaction with who one is in comparison to who they think they’re supposed to be. Psychologists James Gill and Luigi Rulla wrote about how one’s self-esteem is proportional to the gap between one’s idealized self and one’s perception of self. The idealized self is one’s perfect ideal; what they think they should be or in some cases; what they think others think they should be. The perception of self is how one perceives themselves or in some cases; what they think others perceive of them. The gap between those two perceptions of self determines one’s relative level of self-worth; the wider the gap, the less one’s self worth. Then one might ask; Is the solution to stay satisfied with what you are, or is it to aim for your perfect ideal?

The solution here is neither wearing yourself out trying to hit perfection, nor is it bluntly taking satisfaction in your own inadequacies with the premise of unconditional self-love. Like most things in life, it’s usually a balance of both. The healthy equilibrium is achieved where you have a healthy appreciation for yourself but also strive to be a better version of yourself. This would look like; Say for instance you’re an introvert, but that affects your social life; you find a hard time making new friends or relating to people. It’s probably counterproductive to take pride in your inadequacy and settle for a poor social life because such things are an essential part of life you can’t escape. In such a case the healthy balance would be to find the line between appreciating yourself as an introvert (it comes with its own merits), but also picking up a few basic social skills to improve your social life.

However, it’s worth noting that you can always strive towards your perfect ideal but YOU WILL NEVER REACH IT, it’s impossible (As an introvert you probably won’t become that charismatic social butterfly you always picture). It’s for that reason that you shouldn’t value yourself based on how far you are from reaching your perfect ideal, but rather value your continual efforts towards the best version of yourself. Appreciate where you already are, look back and value yourself for how far you’ve already come, value the small incremental progress.

“Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not with who someone else is today.” Jordan B Peterson.

Don’t base your self-worth upon how far you are from perfection, base it on your daily efforts to become the best version of yourself.