Social insecurity, a largely silent and internal weight, can't help but rear its head for the external world every so often.
Or for some, it comes out pretty regularly.
And that makes for a vicious cycle.
The socially anxious person, already struggling with low self-esteem, performs some subtle--yet very noticeable--behavior that only causes them to dig further into that hole.
Just how obvious are those warning signs?
A recent Reddit thread made that pretty clear.
dudeARama2 asked, "What screams 'I have low self esteem?' "
For some people, the insecurity came out because it'd been dominating their entire, internal worldview for so long that it colored their reality.
A thing said, a passing feeling, or the nonchalant action of a friend were all enough to throw them off.
A Sudden Interrogation
"What do you mean? Why are you asking? Has anyone said something about me? Is it because I gained weight?" -- DocTymc
"My favorite, 'I lost weight recently can't you tell? My friends said I looked thinner in my face.' "
"Me: 'Damn Kris can I get a hello first.' " -- bigblueberryboobies
Center of it All
"Thinking that every time someone laughs it's because they're laughing at you or making fun of you" -- Massive_Corgi5532
"My worst nightmare. Walking past a group of teens and they start laughing." -- SnR_Remito
"The real doozy is when someone is looking even vaguely in your direction when laughing and your brain immediately goes into the fun world of paranoia" -- HuanTheMango
"Thinking that everything bad someone tells you is true, but the second someone complements you, you just can't seem to accept it." -- PansPersonCrazy
"Wait, somebody actually likes me AND thinks I'm attractive? Okay but, what's wrong with them?" -- Lanko
A Daily Obsession
"Being excessively concerned with how others perceive you." -- fermat1432
" 'We all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.' -Marcus Aurelius" -- mysterybiscuit
Other people talked about the not-so-subtle behaviors of people with low self-esteem. The coping mechanisms are more obvious than we'd like to think.
"Somebody who apologizes frequently, even for things that aren't their fault. I've apologized to inanimate objects before." -- Ermaquillz
"Apologizing for talking. Apologizing for not talking. Apologizing for apologizing. Apologizing for being alive." -- Ectophylla_alba
"Well l, I'm sorry but that's totally me." -- Captainspazzma
Beat Them to the Punch
"Someone who talks themselves down a lot. It's a way for them to protect themselves from the insults of others" -- aardbei123
"Self-effacing humor is fun in small amounts, but if people are constantly making "jokes" about their own flaws, they're probably actually internalizing a lot of it." -- Notmiefault
Avoid, Avoid, Avoid
"Not being able to speak looking at other people face or eyes, something I say by experience, you just start to think they may judge you, or may notice that pimple, or how bad u have your hair in that moment, or your nose form. It's like if I don't see their faces they won't see my defects."
"I don't know if I explained my self well." -- Coque379
Some, however, went on the offense.
Their insecurities pushed them to fire the first shot across the bow, if you will. Unfortunately, nobody was buying the performance.
Down to their Level
"Putting down other's hobbies because you are insecure about yours/don't have any" -- FROGS_and_PLANTS
"I cross stitch, and some of my pieces are very intricate and take a long time. I am really proud of them, and the focus it takes to complete them."
"I had a date tell me that cross stitch was the most useless hobby he had every heard of, and I was just flabbergasted. First off, why do hobbies have to be 'useful'? Secondly, it provides me with entertainment for a long time, and it then serves as decoration! But even without all that, if I enjoy it, why try and take that away from me?"
Painting a Picture
"People who brag about themselves all the time. So damn insecure and trying to tell people how to see them" -- Kir-ius
"I know someone like this. She's always bragging about how everyone loves her, but the second I get a compliment she's quick to get all eyes and ears on her again. I'm just now realizing this too, I used to look up to her a lot. But now I just feel bad for her bc she needs so much validation." -- msbeliever8
"Lying about their lives. There is nothing more sad than catching a person lying about their life (finances, romantic relationships etc.) just to get attention and validation." -- o_oana
"I went to school with a girl who told various lies. She was homeless and captured pigeons for dinner, she was a trained clown, her mom was paraplegic and wheelchair bound among others, but then graduation rolls around and guess who shows up? Mom, and she is not in a wheelchair. Someone in class declares 'it's a miracle!!' "
"But wasn't my face red a few years later when I went to a Busking Festival and I saw Lying Girl painted up as a clown. She was pretty good, excellent balloon animals." -- NewToSociety
It's the perfect storm: being seen in a bad light is the worst nightmare of a person with low-self esteem. And yet, the coping mechanisms broadcast it loud and clear.
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Millions of people struggle with self-harm every single day. Their reasons are as varied and unique as they are. it's a dangerous tendency that people absolutely can overcome, but it requires a lot of work and support. Having said that, the self-harming person has to be willing to accept that help.
What do you do when you catch a loved one hurting themselves but they refuse to acknowledge it?
That's the position one Reddit found himself in when he posted asking for advice:
My girlfriend Lacy and I have been dating 2 years. She's a lovely person and we make a great couple.
Two weeks ago Lacy and I went downhill skiing. I'm an experienced skier and she had only been once before. I admit I pushed her abilities and lo and behold, she wiped out pretty hard. She wasn't seriously hurt or anything and got right back up with a smile on her face.
Her legs got pretty bruised up from the fall (she was wearing only thin workout leggings since it was quite warm out). It looks like someone splashed green paint on her, if that makes sense. And she has a particularly nasty big purple one on her thigh.
Lacy has always been the type to show off injuries. For as long as I've known her she has always showed me even the tiniest of bruises either for sympathy or attention (like she would say it was shaped as Texas or something). She has some body image issues and I know that she really likes the attention so I will usually give it to her no problem.
Yesterday though I came home from work early (power went out at my building). I walked in pretty quietly as I usually do and went straight to our bedroom. I could hear music coming from it and wanted to greet her.
I basically opened the door and saw her with a hammer in her hands mid hit. The hammer hit her bruised leg the moment I walked in. It was absolutely surreal and I admit - I freaked out a bit. I went to her and took the hammer and started asking her what she was doing?
She freaked out right back and told me that she was rubbing the blood vessels or something to make the bruises go away faster. I knew this was bullshit right away since you don't "rub" by smacking yourself with a fricken hammer.
She left after I told her I didn't believe her and texted me shortly after to say she was going home for a few days.
I sat down on the bed with that hammer in my hands for like an hour completely floored. I know it sounds crazy but she hit herself hard. I've seen those bruises every day and now that I've seen her do this I am thinking that it was weird that they haven't gotten even the slightest bit lighter despite it being two weeks now.
I know she has some issues but I would never have thought she would hurt herself.
Reddit, I'm freaked out. She will be back tomorrow. How do I talk to her about this?
Users were surprisingly open with their responses. People gave advice and even shared stories of their own self-harming experiences. If that sort of thing is difficult or triggering for you to read, you may want to move on to another article. For the rest of you, here are some of the top responses. Some have been edited for content or clarity.