People who lack self-confidence often display these 11 traits

by Brendan Brown | July 10, 2024, 4:23 pm

Confidence is key.

Having self-confidence has been linked to almost every element required to have a happy life, from greater motivation to improved resilience to less stress and anxiety. 

Confidence is also often seen as a leadership quality, so confident people are more likely to get those workplace promotions and enjoy material success.

But not everyone is born with confidence in themselves. And often, life events can negatively affect someone’s view of themselves, destroying what self-confidence they may once have had.

There are several traits that can indicate whether you are a person you know lacks self-confidence.

If you or someone you know exhibits these traits, it might be time to work on improving self-esteem.

1) They make negative comparisons

People who lack confidence often also suffer from low self-esteem. 

That means they don’t value themselves or their achievements and see themselves as falling short of other people.

Someone with low self-confidence may often compare themselves unfavorably to others. It could be people in your peer group or even celebrities or people on social media.

People who lack confidence see examples all around them of other people living the life that they want to live, and focus on how their own life falls short of everyone else’s.

And from there, it’s a small step to…

2) They engage in negative self-talk

People with low self-confidence often engage in negative self-talk. That means they are highly critical of themselves and their actions.

People who engage in negative self-talk are constantly criticizing themselves in their own head. They tell themselves that they are not good enough to get what they want or that they’ll never be happy.

No wonder this negative view can become a vicious circle. 

People with low self-confidence have to struggle against this mental burden, making it harder for them to achieve the things that might change their impression of themselves.

3) They have difficulty communicating their needs

Having low self-confidence makes it a challenge to speak up. Often, people with low self-esteem can be quiet and shy.

This also means they have difficulty communicating their needs to others. 

Instead of pointing out when someone is not treating them the way they want to be treated, people lacking self-confidence will often keep quiet and put up with bad treatment because they don’t believe they deserve any better.

People with low self-confidence often struggle to tell people when they’re having a hard time and prefer indirect methods of communicating like sulking.

The trouble is, that can backfire, leading to more rejection and even lower self-esteem.

4) They defer decisions to others

Non-self-confident people generally try to avoid rocking the boat or drawing attention to themselves. One result of that is that they often defer decisions to other people and let others get their way.

Often, this causes a person with low confidence to be a doormat for other people to walk all over. 

By not communicating their needs or being unwilling to make decisions, people without self-confidence leave themselves open to being dominated by the preferences of others.

5) They doubt themselves

Another clear sign of someone with low self-confidence is that they constantly doubt themselves.

This is a very common trait in people with low self-confidence, even if they have achieved a lot. 

Even very successful people can suffer from low self-confidence

They will minimize their achievements and tell themselves and others that they just got lucky or that what they have accomplished isn’t a big deal.

People with low self-confidence lack belief in themselves and their abilities. A common result is that…

6) They fear failure

Anyone who tries something new or daring opens himself up to the possibility of failure. This is part of life. 

And as many successful people will tell you, it was their failures that propelled them to become the success that they are now.

On the other hand, people lacking self-confidence feel that they will fail at whatever they try

Therefore, they often won’t try something outside their comfort zone because they believe they already know it won’t work out.

7) They apologize too much

Admitting mistakes and owning up to your faults is a big part of being a mature and responsible human being.

But sometimes, you can apologize too much.

People with low self-confidence often have feelings of guilt and inadequacy that cause them to apologize frequently, even for things that aren’t their fault. 

They may also apologize for things that don’t require an apology.

Like indirect communication of feelings, excessive apologies can actually make people like you even less

But when people have low self-confidence, they tend to feel as though everything is their fault and use apologies like a shield to protect them from negative social interactions.

8) They try to please others

Because they lack a healthy level of self-esteem, people with low self-confidence often look to other people to provide their sense of value for them.

This can result in excessive people-pleasing. People with low self-confidence have a hard time saying no to others, and this can manifest itself in a number of ways:

  • They may take on too much work to try and please their boss
  • They may neglect their own interests to focus on pleasing their partners
  • They may let parents or other family members dictate their life choices, including what they wear, who they spend time with, where they go to school, or what they do for work
  • They may take part in activities they don’t enjoy, just to be part of the group

In other words…

9) They don’t maintain good boundaries

Maintaining boundaries is the key to any fulfilling relationship. That’s as true at home as it is at work or anywhere else.

But maintaining boundaries requires clear communication. And it also requires sometimes saying no to people.

Folks with low self-confidence often have a hard time doing that. The result is that they are often pushovers who let other people run their lives for them.

10) They don’t take care of their appearance

Some people genuinely don’t care how they look. Sometimes, that can even be a sign of a healthy disregard for the opinions of others.

However, it can also be a sign of low self-esteem and low confidence.

Often, people lacking confidence try not to draw attention to themselves with any kind of flamboyant clothing. They may wear baggy clothes to hide their bodies and conceal features they are self-conscious about.

Our sense of self-esteem is closely linked to how we feel about the way we look. A desire to hide their appearance can be a telltale sign of someone who lacks confidence.

11) They have self-conscious body language

The way a person carries themselves can also be a clue to how they feel inside.

People lacking self-confidence often show it through their body language. Things like:

  • avoiding eye contact
  • slouching while standing
  • looking down at the floor
  • fidgeting
  • touching their face or neck
  • speaking quickly and quietly

can be dead giveaways that a person doesn’t have confidence in themselves.

Building self-confidence

Confidence is one of the keys to happiness. 

But even though confidence is something that is instilled in us in childhood, it is not set in stone. There are lots of ways to boost your confidence.

If you or someone you know shows these signs of lacking confidence, it’s a good idea to start working on self-love and self-esteem.

Related: How to overcome insecurity: 7 practical steps for building self-confidence

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