1. Putting other people down.
Show me a person who is constantly finding fault with other people and I will show you someone who is absolutely riddled with insecurity.
Truly self-confident people aren’t threatened by the shortcomings of others – they like themselves just as they are, so they don’t need to pit themselves against others to feel better about themselves. In the words of Mark Twain, “Truly great people make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
2. Failing to ever surrender control.
Self-confident people know that they can adapt to most situations, even if it feels a bit uncomfortable at first.
It’s only people who lack self-esteem who feel as though they have to control every miniscule detail of their environments. They need to create a situation that they know they’ll feel confident in, because their confidence is context-dependent, rather than an internal trait.
3. Shoving their lives down your throat.
People who have the recognition that they believe they deserve don’t need to endlessly boast and brag. It’s the people who feel as though they’re going unnoticed who are the loudest and the most relentless about their accomplishments.
Show me a person who is constantly talking about themselves and I will show you a person who secretly feels small and unloved.
4. Refusing to admit that they’ve made a mistake.
People with a strong sense of self know that from time to time, they mess up. They can humbly admit it, and move on.
Insecure people, on the other hand, need to cling to the idea they have of themselves as morally flawless. They can’t bear to face the thought of having done something wrong, so they point the finger at others when they’ve messed up and refuse to ever say that they’re sorry.
5. Guilt-tripping you.
People who are self-confident don’t need others to concede to their wishes – because their self-worth doesn’t rest on external validation. When someone is constantly requiring you to prove your love for them, chances are they don’t have a whole lot of love for themselves. And so they need to guilt and manipulate others into paying attention to them.
6. Making excuses for not going after the things they want.
Insecure people never want to take responsibility for their circumstances – instead, they look for excuses to keep themselves small. If they can chalk all their misfortune up to bad luck, it saves them from having to take responsibility for it – and therefore from having to try to actually change things.
7. Deliberately engaging with things that make them unhappy.
You know that co-worker who endlessly complains about their job but never quits, or that friend who’s unhappy in their relationship but will not leave? It is almost definitely a lack of self-esteem that is keeping them stuck.
Confident people simply walk away from the things that do not serve them. Insecure people, on the other hand, continue to engage with the things that drive them crazy – because those things feed into their hostile worldview and provide them with an extended opportunity to feel sorry for themselves (see point #6).
8. Chasing perfection.
Truly confident people know that perfection is an impossible (and ever-moving) target. They look at situations through the lens of reality, rather than idealism.
Insecure people, on the other hand, chase perfection at all costs. They decide that they’ll be ‘enough’ for themselves and for the world once they’ve reached it – not realizing that they’re simply creating excuses for themselves not to try (because they are not prepared to deal with a potential failure).
9. Closing themselves off to new situations.
Insecure people keep their worlds small, so that they never have to feel overwhelmed. They don’t trust themselves to handle major changes, so they refuse to entertain them – and instead they stay right where they’re sure they’re comfortable.
10. Constantly exaggerating the differences between themselves and others.
Perhaps the single most sure-fire sign of a person who lacks true self-esteem is their need to point out differences between themselves and others.
Those who are truly confident search for connection – they identify traits and experiences they have in common with other people and they bond over them. They understand that connection and love are at the core of their human needs.
Those who are insecure seek to keep themselves distanced from others at all costs. They want to show that they are vastly unlike everyone around them – because some part of themselves (wrongly) suspects, deep down, that if everyone else saw them for who they really were, everyone else would hate them as much as they hate themselves.