We all have that one friend who is so clearly comfortable with herself. She's friendly, she shares her thoughts, stands with confidence, and doesn't seem to have a self-conscious bone in her body. And while that's great for her, if you don't feel comfortable in your own skin, it can be difficult to relate.
So, what might be holding you back from feeling as great? There are a couple of possible explanations. "You may have low self-esteem or low self-confidence," NYC-based therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle. And that can have roots in a variety of places. "Low self-esteem can come from ... messages you received at home, trauma, negative peers, or body image issues."
It's an incredibly common issue, especially among younger women. But that doesn't mean you can't feel better — if you're willing to put in the work and adjust how you think. "Think about positive things you were able to do in your life," Hershenon says. "Stop comparing yourself to others. Realize everyone has issues and no one is perfect." Once you can change the track in your head to one of self-acceptance, it'll improve your self-esteem and hopefully make it easier to feel comfortable within yourself. Read on for some signs it's time to do just that.
1. You've Been Known To Change Your Opinion
While it's OK — and often healthy — to change your opinion halfway through a conversation, it definitely shouldn't be done for the sake of gaining someone else's approval. As Hershenon says, "If you find yourself backing down in a conversation or don't share your views in order to avoid conflict, this is a problem."
2. You Need To Be On Your Phone
It's obviously fine to check your phone. But if it's your go-to move when out in public, Hershenson tells me it may be a sign that you're just not comfortable with yourself. Glancing at your phone is a way so many of us deal with feeling uncomfortable in social situations, but it's way more common for people with lower self-esteem.
3. You Feel Like You Always Have To Be "On"
If you enjoy getting dressed up and putting on makeup, then keep doing your thing. But if you feel like you can't leave the house without getting dressed up, Hershenson says it could be a sign of low confidence. Same goes for feeling nervous about having your picture taken. While it takes a pretty self-assured person to smile for a pic despite having messy hair and worn-off lipstick, it's not a good sign if you panic whenever there's a camera around.
4. You're Constantly "Checking" Yourself
If you can't walk past a shiny window without checking your reflection to ensure all is well, consider it another sign. "Checking is a continual sign of not being comfortable in your own skin," therapist Alexandra Joy Hoerr tells Bustle. "Checking can include looking in mirrors/windows and physically feeling your body where you're insecure." If you felt more comfortable, you'd likely breeze past without giving your appearance a second thought.
5. You Apologize All Day Long
While there's nothing wrong with being polite, you definitely don't want to apologize your way through the day. As certified counselor Jonathan Bennett says, "One sign of low self-esteem is constantly apologizing, especially when you did nothing wrong. People with low self-esteem are quick to take the blame, even when someone else is in the wrong or no one is at fault." If this is so you, it may be time to work on boosting yourself up a bit.
6. You Second-Guess Yourself
After making a decision, do you immediately second-guess yourself? "Confident people will make an informed decision and stick with it, even in the face of adversity," Bennett says. "People with low self-esteem, however, second-guess themselves. This leads to self-sabotage, an inability to make firm decisions, overthinking, and paralysis by analysis." And that's not good.
7. You Go With The Flow A Little Too Often
While this is a good quality to have in many ways, it could also be a side effect of low self-esteem. "People with low self-esteem are more likely to do what others expect of them in hopes of getting approval," says San Fransisco-based psychotherapist April Snow. "If you don't feel comfortable in your own skin or are burdened with self-doubt, it will be challenging to speak with conviction or set boundaries with others."
8. You Zero In On Your "Imperfections"
As spiritual counselor and psychic Davida Rappaport says, "Many young women look in the mirror and see only that they are not 'perfect.' They scrutinize every feature on their face — their nose, their eyes, their makeup, hair, body shape, etc." While this is common for so many people, those of us who truly don't feel comfortable in our own skin might make a habit of it. And it can become incredibly distressing.
9. You Try To Blend Into The Background
If you'd rather blend into the background than stand out, take note. As Rappaport tells me, making a habit of "hiding" can be a sign of low self-esteem.
10. You Have Negative Body Language
You know that friend who has great self-esteem? Well I bet she walks into a room with her shoulders back, her head held high, and a smile on her face. If you don't feel comfortable in your own skin, you'll likely do just the opposite. "Posture plays an important role in showing whether or not you may be shy, modest, or have low self-esteem," Rappaport says.
11. You Don't Like Hanging Out With Yourself
While some people with low self-esteem may prefer to hang out alone, others simply can't stand it. "A sign that someone doesn’t feel comfortable with themselves is not being able to be by themselves for very long periods of times," licensed professional counselor Tiffany Stewart, PhD tells Bustle. "This person always needs to be in the company of others because being alone causes anxiety and a sense of discomfort."
12. You Don't Take Risks At Work
It's tough to take risks at work, even when you feel great about yourself. So if you don't, it make sense why it might feel 100 times more difficult. "Someone with low self-esteem will try to stay out of the spotlight," says certified executive life coach Lara Heacock. "Professionally, they won't volunteer for projects or seek advancement opportunities." And that can truly hold you back.
13. You're Hyper-Critical Of Others
As life coach Dyana King says, "People who have low self-esteem usually show up in one of two ways. They are either hyper-critical and judgmental of others, or they turn that inward toward themselves." So, if you're always picking on others or dragging people down, it could be due to underlying self-esteem issues.
14. You Just Can't Stop Comparing
Be honest — how many times a day do you compare yourself to others? If you're convinced that everyone on the planet is better looking and has a better job, please take it as a sign. "These thoughts are often a result of limiting beliefs that they have developed at some point in [your] life," master life coach Meiyoko Taylor tells Bustle.
15. Your Head Is Full Of Negative Self-Talk
Self-talk is that little voice inside your head that informs your thinking. If yours is particularly negative — which is often the case with low self-esteem — it can start to feel like you'll never get anything good out of life. "This self-doubt and the accompanying negative self-talk makes it nearly impossible to feel worthy of a good relationship, a work promotion, or even gifting yourself little acts of self-care," Snow says.
If any of this rings a bell, it might mean you aren't the most comfortable in your skin. Since this is a sign of low self-esteem, the best way to combat it is by boosting your confidence in any way you can. Here are some good places to start.
Images: Pexels (16)