Men – Know The Signs of Low Self-Esteem and How to Fix It

Men who show signs of low self-esteem often keep it to themselves,  believing that it’s “what men do”. They have been taught to just “suck it up” and deal with it. Healthy women are more supportive of each other. Men, you can fix this! 

But don’t pity yourself, guys. Less emotionally healthy women may not be as “upfront” and transparent with their female friends if they are in a competitive group. They too can be left to deal with their own sense of low self-esteem.

They don’t teach much about low self-esteem in school, if at all. So here’s what you can do:

Recognize The Signs of Low Self-Esteem

There can be many symptoms of low self-esteem. It is not a “one-size fits all” scenario. Here are some examples:

  • Fearing you won’t measure up as a “man”
  • Being disappointed in yourself for not being the main bread-winner 
  • Feeling less manly because of not taking certain risks in your career, or with family, etc.
  • Fearing you are “less of a man” for not standing up to your parents or spouse
  • Often being critical of yourself or others, or unforgiving
  • Being self-deprecating on an ongoing basis
  • Feeling guilty for asserting yourself at times (not feeling worthy)
  • Being overly competitive, especially with friends
  • Over-Monitoring your words or actions 
  • Avoiding competitive situations or being overly competitive
  • Being “needy” 
  • Often attempting to be the “center of attention”  
  • Feeling like you are “damaged goods” and come with too much “baggage”     

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

No one is perfect. Many people come from particular upbringings which can vary from abusive to over-indulgent parenting. Or perhaps you had absent parents who let you fend for yourself. Regardless of the situation, your early life experiences absolutely shaped your self-esteem.

But it doesn’t begin with your childhood. Often, abusive or neglective parents had the same style of parenting as what they provided you. It doesn’t make it more acceptable, just unfortunate.

Sometimes a parent (usually the father) might push his son to excel in sports, likely because he couldn’t succeed in sports himself. Whatever the reason, it had nothing to do with your value.

It is very difficult to understand why a parent would abandon or give up their own child. Sometimes it was plain neglect. Or perhaps they were frightened of repeating their bad childhood with you.

It’s never too late to make improvements. There is no time expiration on growing and improving yourself.

Identify What You Have That Is Good About You

Knowing what you like about yourself is a healthy practice. It has nothing to do with being conceited. Everyone has some good things about themselves. However, somewhere along the way, men with low self-esteem were made to feel “less than” and they learned to believe this.

Maybe you are intelligent, athletic, friendly, kind, artistic, funny, or gifted in some particular way. Really think about this. Everyone has some kind of gifts or talents. It’s important to recognize and own it. That’s how healthy self-esteem develops.

Look For Happy People Who Live a Healthy Life

Sometimes you get used to being around people who have similar self-esteem. Instead, practice associating with people who seem happy and appear to feel better about themselves. They make good decisions in their life. They have healthy friends. And they would welcome you.

Remember, no one is perfect. Healthy friends learn as they go in life, but overall, appear to make good choices. Cultivate these friends by participating in an activity where healthy people come together. For example, playing a sport, or hanging out with live music. 

Look for friends who don’t engage in immature put-downs and those who treat people with respect; friends who make good choices. Pay closer attention to those in the group who appear to be emotionally healthier than others and see if you have things in common.

Seek Professional Help If You Show Signs of Low Self-Esteem

It takes courage to reach out for help, especially for men who were taught not to be vulnerable, and that a “real man” sucks it up when things get difficult. 

Psychotherapy can be really uncomfortable at times, especially for men. But it can also be freeing when you learn new ways of coping and making choices.  Be choosy in picking a therapist. You should feel emotionally safe with them, and not judged. Feel free to ask questions about how they work.  A good therapist will be open to your questions and will want you to feel comfortable so you can just focus on doing the work. 

If you feel it is not a good fit, speak up. If you have given it a try, don’t give up on the process. Seek out another therapist. Each has their own personality and ways of working. You should feel comfortable with your therapist, that they understand you as an individual and you should feel that the therapy is helping.  Ask for what you want, especially if you are feeling uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

It Takes Practice – Be Patient!           

Improving yourself and learning new life skills takes time. It is an up and down process. Sometimes it may feel really uncomfortable to do the work. But other times you will feel really good at the progress you are making.

That’s normal. Everyone has good times, and challenging times. This is a part of life. However, you deserve to feel good about yourself and to be around those people who see the true goodness and value in you.

About Susan Saint-Welch

Susan Saint-Welch LMFT has counseled couples and individuals for many years on issues such as dating, marriage, family drama, coping with difficult times, improving self-image and living the life you love. She provides psychotherapy for clients in California and Dating, Couples and Life Coaching for clients outside California through secure video conferencing. She has published numerous articles regarding these issues on her website, on and on

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