5 Signs of Low Self-Esteem and How to Overcome Them

Suffering From Low Self-Esteem? Read This Post

Are you worried you or someone you know is suffering from low self-esteem? The read this post. Whatever the reason is you are not currently feeling yourself, increased knowledge can only be a good thing and so read on to discover 5 signs that you may be suffering from low self-esteem and how you can overcome them.

It’s rare that we take the time out to investigate and reflect on the principles of self-esteem and what they mean for us. Often something significant happens to spark our interest in the topic. It could be a negative experience, a change we have noticed in ourselves or others, or perhaps just an inquisitive drive for theoretical understanding of human psychology and emotion.

Whatever the reason, low self-esteem in men is a common problem that most men will face at some stage in their life. Fear or suspicion that we are not feeling like our true selves can be the catalyst to drive our motivation for learning and self-improvement.

In order to add some scientific weight to this post, the content is built on the research of a pioneer in the field of self-esteem, Morris Rosenberg. We also took guidance from multiple other scientific, medical and lifestyle resources.

So with the research completed for your convenience, let's get going with our 5 signs of low self-esteem in a man and tips on how to overcome them.


1. Social withdrawal and isolation

low self esteem social disengagement and withdrawal the unknown self esteem for men

Given the global chaos that Covid-19 caused it seems rather ironic to discuss social distancing within any other context. Nevertheless, let’s clarify the link to self-esteem for the benefit of being thorough.

Social withdrawal concerns the voluntary avoidance of people and activities that you would otherwise usually enjoy. More severe cases can escalate to social isolation where you willingly choose to avoid close friends and family.

Have you noticed yourself avoiding more than your annoying auntie Mavel recently? If you are willingly excluding yourselves from social situations that you would usually enjoy, then you should try to understand the reasons why. Stress and anxiety may be factors and it’s possible that low self-esteem is having an impact or is the cause itself.

It's ok to allow your yourself a reasonable amount of time in social withdrawal  if you feel it is needed and will be beneficial. Some of us need time to ourselves sometimes, particularly after a traumatic event or period of intense change. We should recognize however than excessive isolation is unhealthy and can lead to harmful consequences.

Some studies have show that lack of social connections can actually be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or having an alcohol habit. It's this level of unnecessary loneliness you want to avoid. You can read more about the risks here.

If you start to feel that your socially isolated in a way that feels like it is having a negative impact on your mental and/or physical well-being then it's time to act.

Overcoming Social Withdrawal

If you feel that you may need some help or advice to tackle your social withdrawal, then it may be a cliché but identifying that you may need help is a significant first step. This realization allows you to prepare to fight back.

Depending on the severity of your social withdrawal, here are a few techniques or tools to consider using to help get you back to feeling your normal self:

  • Try hard to push yourself to be more social. This sounds obvious, but sometimes pushing yourself outside your comfort zone can really make a difference. Being around other people makes it more difficult to get lost in negative thoughts and has the potential to give you the boost of energy you need. Emotional support from family and friends can be hugely beneficial to your state of mind and self-esteem.
  • Take this free and quick anxiety test to score your symptoms and further diagnose your current state of mind. It may help understand how much anxiety is contributing to the way you are feeling.
  • Work on reducing your negative thoughts. Question any deeply held beliefs or current thoughts that are only causing you negative energy. Read this article for more advice on how to overcome negative thoughts.
  • Try adopting a mantra as a way to produce positive thoughts. Don't be a skeptic until you have tried it properly; it can have a great impact for some people. The trick is to genuinely believe in what you are saying and repeat it regularly enough to give it a chance of working. 
  • Use breathing techniques to control anxiety. Try using the '4 by 4 for 4' technique than Navy Seals use. Breath in for 4 second, out for 4 seconds and repeat for 4 minutes. This can help you to relax provide your body a valuable oxygen boost. Do this consciously and habitually, especially before entering potentially anxiety-inducing situations.
  • In severe cases, you may benefit from professional therapy or medication if a qualified medical practitioner deems it necessary. The main consideration here is not to be afraid to reach out for the professional help that you need. If you feel you need it, do it asap.


Hopefully some of these techniques can help, but make sure that you do take the time to thoroughly investigate your situation and provide yourself the help and support you need. There should never be a second of shame or embarrassment when it comes to self-improvement. Reach out for professional help when you need it.


2. Physical symptoms

signs of low self esteem physical symptoms the unknown self esteem for men

Your body is hard-wired to try to let you know when something is wrong. Physical symptoms like insomnia, recurring headaches and excessive fatigue are common examples of reactions by the body when there is an issue.

Don’t rush to conclusions if you are suffering from any of these symptoms as there can be many causes. Losing to my wife on Fifa in what was meant to be a simple time-wasting exercise during the Covid-19 lockdown caused all three in me for example (I’m not sure I will ever recover).

Jokes aside, new or sudden physical symptoms such as these without obvious physical trauma can be a clue to underlying emotional or psychological challenges. Reduced self-esteem may be a contributing factor.

Responding to Physical Symptoms

Make sure you keep track of any physical changes you are experiencing and be aware if they are persisting or intensifying. It can be helpful to keep a timed diary of them so you don't forget. By doing this you are collecting evidence to help identify the source of the problem.

Here are some tips and tools that can help you respond to some of the common physical symptoms:

  • Take the Rosenberg self-esteem assessment online. Answer honestly and if you score below 15 then recognize that you are likely to be currently suffering from low self-esteem and seek the appropriate support to get you back to where you deserve to be.
  • Try meditation to help you relax and respond to things like anxiety. For tips on meditation techniques to use, read Warrior Meditation Techniques You Should Know
  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can exasperate and contribute to things like headaches. Aim to drink 2.5 litres a day and use the colour of your urine as the measure of your level of hydration. It should be a pale straw colour. The darker it is the more dehydrated you are.
  • Eat a healthy diet. You are what you eat after all and now more than ever you can benefit from a healthy and balanced level of nutrition.
  • Get plenty of exercise. The list of benefits for exercise is vast and includes improving your mental health and mood. Go and get those endorphins.

When your symptoms are noticeably impacting your life and what you are trying isn't working, then it's time to seek professional medical advice. Low self-esteem or other psychological obstacles may be contributing factors, but you need an evaluation from a qualified medical practitioner. 


3. Anger and hostility

signs of low self esteem anger and hostility the unknown self esteem for men

If you are feeling uncharacteristically angry then it is often a sign that there is something deeper affecting you. Here are some examples that you should be mindful of:

  • Feeling angry that your opinions and feelings are not more highly regarded.
  • Feeling overly self-conscious or victimized.
  • Reacting badly in situations that on reflection didn’t quite justify such a defensive or aggressive response. 

Increased or unnecessary hostility may be another sign that low self-esteem is influencing the way you are feeling. There is in fact ample research that confirms the connection between low self-esteem and anger. Here is an example.

It is understandable that feeling worthless, hopeless or unloved can trigger anger and uncharacteristic or unusual responses, however it is also important to get on top of this before it leads to more complex challenges.

Overcoming Anger and Hostility

Self-care is always a good start to help manage anger and put yourself in a better frame of mind. You should:

  • get regular exercise
  • practice relaxation techniques
  • plan things to look forward to
  • eat a balanced diet
  • make sure you get enough sleep
  • learn to say no to others and yes to yourself more often
  • make time for reading

When anger does feel like it may take over, try out some of these techniques:

  • take a few slow, deep breaths and then count down from 10 to one (the angrier you feel the higher the starting number should be). By doing this you are allowing yourself some time to calm down a little before you respond inappropriately and in a way that you might later regret.
  • take time for yourself when you feel anger rising. Allow yourself time to process what is going on and how you are feeling. You may even benefit from building in regular time to yourself as part of an every day routine.
  • understand whether there are any avoidable situations that are creating hostility. Is the barista at the coffee shop you visit every morning rude and consequently starts your day with a negative tone? Easy - go somewhere else for your coffee.
  • if you are holding any grudges the really try to let them go. Forgiveness is not easy, but it can be truly liberating.
  • humour is another great remedy to counterbalance anger, don’t forget about its existence. Watch videos or movies that make you smile, spend more time with friends that make you laugh and dust of that killer sense of humour that you have been temporarily side-lining.

Remember that if you are calm and thinking clearly then you are much more likely to get your point across more credibly and with greater impact. Give yourself this advantage, don't let the anger take over.

If you still feel that you are not able to control your anger then it’s time to reach out for professional help. Make sure you don’t hesitate to do this if it seems necessary. Deteriorating your life due to anger is avoidable with the right support.


4. Increased sensitivity

signs of low self esteem increased sensitivity the unknown self esteem for men

I’m not talking about crying at the conclusion of the movie Armageddon here (if the ending of that movie didn’t affect you then you may want to read up on whether you are a sociopath).

Compare your current mood to a time where you really felt yourself. Have you noticed that you are hurt, offended or upset more easily? An increase in sensitivity can be another sign of low self-esteem in a man, particularly if it is noticeably unusual and persistent.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of sensitive people who possess an impressive abundance of inner strength. Sensitivity itself should not necessarily be viewed as a weakness, it needs to be judged within the context and circumstances of your personal situation. If the sensitivity does seem out of character or even if you want to mitigate your natural sensitivity, then read on for some suggestions.

Overcoming Increased Sensitivity

Firstly, try to understand what triggers it. Consider writing down how you feel, particularly after an obvious display of excessive sensitivity. You can take this a step further by keeping a journal. If you can figure out the cause or any patterns then you have a much better chance of controlling it.

Don’t beat yourself up or over-analyse the minutia of every situation. Approach this challenge with positive actions as opposed to reflecting on the negatives. When you start to understand the causes, start to implement possible solutions and understand that they are likely to involve working on yourself.

Another approach is to think carefully and consider things rationally before you jump to conclusions or assume the worst. Maybe your friend is late because something important came up out of their control. Perhaps the girl you like has not returned your messages because she left her phone at the gym and hasn’t realized yet. The Stoics were great at using rationale to control their emotions, you can read about it in a section of our post on authentic vs toxic masculinity.

Don’t take everything personally, you will be surprised how often it’s not about you. Remember that the other person is likely to have their own issues in life, perhaps they are influencing the situation and it’s actually nothing to do with you.

Once you train your mind in the right way you should start to feel an increased sense of normality. Remember, a sensitive person is more likely to be capable of higher levels of empathy and compassion. These are valuable strengths, particularly in the modern world. Hold on to these traits, even if newly acquired. The secret is to feel like the normal version of you, sensitive or not. You but free of any restraints or limitations.


5. Preoccupation with personal problems

signs of low self esteem preoccupation with personal problems the unknown self esteem for men

Everyone experiences difficulties at various stages of their life. Personal problems and insecurities seem to be a never-ending journey; something that will follow you like a shadow irrespective of your appearance, popularity or levels of success. Removing these completely would be a fruitless ambition, but controlling them and living a happy life despite their existence is a much more realistic goal.

Low self-esteem can cause us to be overly preoccupied with our problems. Focusing on them obsessively in a way that only exacerbates the issues. Have you caught yourself lost in self-critical thoughts recently? Perhaps you are unduly lambasting yourself for situations that are inevitable and out of your control. You might even manage to blame yourself for them.

Overcoming the Preoccupation

As with most of the points in this post, there is no magic pill you can take and the best option is to work on the way that you process things. Start by trying to re-frame difficult situations.

Has your 4pm prospect cancelled the meeting you were counting on to make a big sale? Don’t think about the hypothetical lost commission and consider what you will do with the unexpected extra time you now have at your disposal. You can now catch up on the emails you were behind on and get home in time for the family dinner for the first time in a while.

Has the girl you have been texting not replied to your messages? Don't immediately start thinking she is not interested. Re-frame. She may just be busy, she may not have seen your messages yet or she may be playing hard to get because she really likes you. Always try to see the other sides before you allow negativity to win.

There are many credible sources that also encourage visual techniques to distract or re-program your brain. Try focusing your mind on something neutral that needs concentration when a negative thought is trying to force its way through. Visualize your favourite music album and start reading through the order of songs in your mind. Name all the football players in the English Premier League. You don’t need to do this for long, only until it has had the necessary impact. Don’t be afraid to use this as often as necessary.

Another technique is to visualize yourself throwing your problems away. Throw them far into the distance or down a river that runs them out of sight. You can take this one step further and physically throw them away or delete them. Write them down and throw them into the trash or type them on a word document then drag it into the recycle bin. It may sound strange but there is scientific research to support these techniques.  


I hope that you can take away some beneficial learning from this article. Something I rediscovered when I was researching and writing it is the significance of self-awareness. You can not tackle a challenge until you are aware that it exists.

Low self-esteem and low self-confidence affect us all at at times and we should judge ourselves on how we endeavour to overcome them as opposed to berating ourselves for experiencing these inevitable moments of vulnerability.


For further positive advice, read 11 ways to boost self-esteem or visit our main self confidence and self-esteem blog page to see all our self-esteem articles.


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