9 Signs A Lack Of Self-Worth Is Holding You Back In Life

9 Signs A Lack Of Self-Worth Is Holding You Back In Life

Self-worth is like an internal compass that guides our choices, interactions, and paths in life. However, not everyone realizes when low self-worth is steering them away from their potential. Below are some signs that your lack of self-worth could be holding you back in life and keeping you from reaching your full potential. It’s important to identify these signs not for self-criticism, but for self-awareness and growth.

1. You’re always comparing yourself to other people.

It’s pretty common to look at others and wonder how we stack up. But when this becomes a constant habit, it’s a sign that your self-worth might be on shaky ground. This isn’t just about envying someone’s vacation photos on social media; it’s a deeper sense of always feeling like you’re falling short. If you’re always measuring your success, appearance, or lifestyle against others, it can create a cycle of feeling inadequate. This habit can drain your confidence, as there’s always someone seemingly doing better. The key is to remember that everyone’s journey is unique, and constant comparison keeps you from appreciating your own.

2. You struggle to accept compliments.

If accepting compliments feels awkward or you tend to think people are just being polite, it might point to low self-worth. When someone says, “Great job!” or “You look amazing!”, do you find yourself shaking your head or brushing it off? This might be because, deep down, you don’t fully believe you’re worthy of such praise. It’s like there’s a voice inside saying you’re not really as good or as nice as they think. This difficulty in accepting compliments can reinforce a negative self-image, making it hard for you to see your true value.

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4. You avoid taking on new challenges and are stuck in your comfort zone.

When new opportunities come up, do you find yourself backing away, thinking you won’t be up to the task? This avoidance is often rooted in low self-worth. You might feel like you’re not skilled or capable enough, even when you are. This can lead to staying in your comfort zone, avoiding risks or challenges that could actually help you grow. The problem is, without testing your limits, you might never discover how capable you really are, which in turn perpetuates feelings of inadequacy.

5. You’re overly critical of your own mistakes.

Being hard on yourself, especially over small slip-ups, is a classic sign of low self-worth. It’s normal to feel a bit upset when you make a mistake, but if you find yourself stuck in a loop of self-criticism, it’s counterproductive. This might look like beating yourself up for days over a minor work error or a small misunderstanding with a friend. Constantly focusing on your faults can prevent you from seeing your strengths and achievements. It’s important to learn from mistakes, but endless self-criticism only holds you back from moving forward and trying new things.

6. You have serious people-pleasing tendencies.

Ever find yourself saying ‘yes’ to things you’d rather not do, just to keep others happy? This people-pleasing habit is often tied to low self-worth. It’s like you’re trying to earn approval or avoid conflict by always putting others’ needs before your own. This might mean agreeing to extra work you don’t have time for or attending events you’re not interested in. Over time, this can lead to feeling overburdened and resentful, as your own needs and desires get consistently sidelined. The key here is balance – being helpful and considerate is great, but not at the cost of your own well-being and happiness.

7. You’re reluctant to share your opinions.

If you often hold back your thoughts in conversations or agree with others just to fit in, it might be a sign of low self-worth. This reluctance usually stems from a fear of being judged or rejected. It can feel safer to blend in than to stand out with your own opinions. But constantly suppressing what you really think or feel can prevent you from forming genuine connections and can leave you feeling disconnected or unfulfilled. Sharing your thoughts and beliefs is an important part of your identity and can help build more authentic and satisfying relationships.

8. You feel like you don’t deserve success.

Do you often feel like your achievements are just flukes or that you don’t really deserve them? This feeling, often called imposter syndrome, is common among those with low self-worth. You might attribute your successes to luck, timing, or other people’s efforts, rather than your own skills and hard work. This can prevent you from fully embracing and building on your achievements. It’s important to acknowledge and celebrate your successes, recognizing them as the results of your own abilities and efforts.

9. You don’t want to set ambitious goals in case you can’t reach them.

Finally, if you hesitate to set ambitious goals for yourself, it could be because you don’t feel worthy of achieving them. This might mean shying away from applying for a promotion, starting a new project, or pursuing a personal dream. Low self-worth can make you doubt your ability to succeed, keeping you from aiming high. However, setting and working towards challenging goals can be a powerful way to build confidence and reinforce your sense of self-worth.

10. You don’t practice self-care or prioritize personal development.

If you often neglect self-care or hesitate to invest time and resources in your own development, it might be a sign that you lack self-worth. This can look like not taking time for activities you enjoy, ignoring your health, or not pursuing personal interests and hobbies. It’s as if you don’t see yourself as worthy of that investment of time or resources. This neglect can lead to burnout and a feeling of emptiness, as you’re constantly putting everything and everyone else first. Recognizing that you deserve to be cared for and that your interests and well-being are important is crucial. Investing in yourself is a key step in building self-worth, and it can have a ripple effect on all areas of your life.

Sinead Cafferty is a writer who has authored four collections of poetry: "Dust Settling" (2012); "The Space Between" (2014); "Under, Under, Over" (2016); and "What You Can't Have" (2020). She's currently working on her first novel, a dystopian romance set in the 22nd Century, that's due out in 2024.

Sinead has an MFA in creative writing from NYU and has had residencies with the Vermont Studio Center and the National Center for Writing.