Low self-esteem is not merely a mental health issue, it can have an impact on a person’s physical health and well-being. In this article, we will discuss some of the most important physical signs that can indicate someone is suffering from low self-esteem.
Physical signs of someone suffering from low self-esteem can include failure to properly care for one’s appearance. Poor grooming and body hygiene, putting on weight, or dressing in scruffy or dirty clothes can indicate low self-esteem. Bad posture and body language can reveal a lack of confidence.
Knowing what the physical signs of low self-esteem are will help you to understand if this issue is affecting someone you know and this is a first step towards being able to help that person. If you are suffering from self-esteem or confidence issues, knowing the physical signs can help you to focus on the behaviour you need to change to send out a more positive message to others and feel better about yourself.
Let’s take a more detailed look at some of the main physical signs of low self-esteem.
In most normal situations, both men and women like to look good. This means that grooming, showering, and hygiene are all high priorities. It is easy to notice when someone neglects personal care because they appear dirty and can begin to smell. This is a clear sign that something is wrong.
If someone you know suddenly stops caring about how they look, then it may be a sign that they are suffering from low self-esteem or they may be ill. In this case, don’t criticize, try to see if you can help.
Another obvious physical sign of low self-esteem is poor body posture. You may notice someone hunching over or hanging their head down looking despondent. A confident and positive person will hold their body up straight and the head and shoulders will be held higher.
I once read that when communicating body language makes up approximately 70% of the message. Think about this for a moment, when you are listening to someone, the expression on their face, the shape of the eyes and eyebrows, etc. all become clear signs of the mood or feelings inside. Therefore, imagine if your body language or facial expressions give off negative messages, and how this can affect your conversations.
Body language and posture betray your true thoughts even if you are trying to appear confident.
On the other hand, even if you feel a lack of confidence, standing up straight, smiling and relaxing can help you to look and feel more confident so this is a useful tactic to use.
Negative thoughts can often cause us to behave negatively. This is a major physical sign of low self-esteem or poor confidence. Some of these negative behaviours can include avoidance of social occasions, being very harsh on yourself, making constant negative comments, and avoidance of responsibilities.
Most of these negative behaviours occur because of a fear of failure and feelings of vulnerability. Negative behaviours ensure that any threatening situation is avoided. There are no more challenges, just problems and threats to be avoided rather than faced. Such behaviour only makes low self-esteem worse.
We’ll see a bit later how behaviour is the key to improving self-esteem.
There are some notable differences between the signs of low self-esteem that we can see in men and women, so what are they?
Generally, it is accepted that more women suffer from low self-esteem than men but it is an important issue for both sexes. Here is a summary of common signs of low self-esteem for both sexes, we’ll discover why there are differences shortly.
- Displaying the need to be slimmer. This includes common behaviors such as constant dieting and negative comments about being overweight.
- Self-judgmental comments can be common. Examples are “I’m not a good mother, wife, cook…” etc.
- Eating disorders can be a significant sign of low self-esteem in women.
- Many women can become overly protective and aggressive as they fear being “exposed” as weak or less than perfect.
- Seeking to please others. This can cause many women to ignore their own needs and focus on the needs and wishes of others.
Many of the above signs in women may be caused by women becoming affected by society’s portrayal of how a woman should be. When a woman, for whatever reason, feels vulnerable their self-esteem can suffer and materialize in some of the physical signs mentioned.
I think it is commonly accepted that with women especially, images of how women should look, dress and behave are everywhere and this can be very hard to ignore. If a woman does not identify as being pretty, or slim, or feminine or whatever then they may feel bad about themselves and low self-esteem can be the result.
Men also suffer from low self-esteem but it affects them in different ways. Let’s see how:
- A man can feel just as vulnerable as a woman but is more likely to take it out on a partner or close friend.
- Criticism of others or blaming others without justification.
- Extreme pessimism and negativity.
- Inability to maintain or develop happy or positive relationships.
- Being jealous.
- May become aggressive or forceful.
- Displays a lack of responsibility and may fail to do his fair share.
- Inability to accept criticism of any kind.
- Addiction can become a growing problem.
This list includes some of the most common physical signs that a man is suffering from poor confidence or low self-esteem, and the contrast with some of the signs of women can be explained by the assumed roles that men and women are expected to take in society.
It is not easy for a person to overcome low self-esteem because it requires a shift in attitude from a very negative mindset to a more positive one. A person really has to want to improve to take the first steps towards developing more confidence.
It may be much easier for someone to develop a higher level of self-esteem and gain confidence if they have help. This can come in many forms such as a close friend or the guidance of a professional. Perhaps some sessions of life coaching might help.
The steps to overcoming low self-esteem include three stages – first, understanding how badly low self-esteem may be affecting you. Second, identifying what is causing your low self-esteem, and thirdly, taking action to start facing the issues by taking up challenges and overcoming these.
Each achievement can increase confidence and so the road towards improvement is one of the gradual steps each more challenging than before. It is so important that failure is dealt with correctly and never seen as anything more than a small, temporary setback.
This page has more information about how to build self esteem, I think you’ll find it extremely helpful.
Your job, if you want to help someone overcome low self-esteem, is to not only encourage, but inspire. You cannot be critical and you must have tolerance and sympathy for the feelings of the person trying to escape this negative mental health issue.
Help them to see that small improvements are possible and that they will open up new opportunities. Encourage them to take up challenges and celebrate even small successes. Remind the person affected of their strengths but also do not deny that there are areas where improvement can happen. These areas are not “weaknesses” but areas to develop and grow.
Building confidence means building skills and using them to achieve small victories.
Use language to inspire and encourage and never talk of failure.
Low self-esteem really hurts the potential for success and the physical and mental issues can impact many areas of our lives, such as relationships and careers. It can increase stress and anxiety and even lead to depression so we all need to work on maintaining a healthy level of self-confidence so that we can be at our best.
Men often react to low self-esteem and may take it out on others whilst women can self-destruct in a more passive and self-judgemental way. I truly hope that this article has helped you to understand not only the impact of low self-esteem but also enabled you to understand why it happens and what you can do about it. Good luck and I wish you strength and determination in overcoming it!