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What Is the Difference Between Humility and Low Self Esteem?

Humility is a virtue that can be difficult to define. In general, it’s the ability to accept one’s own failures and limitations without being overly concerned with oneself. It is also downplaying one’s own abilities or accomplishments.

Low self-esteem, on the other hand, is a feeling of inadequacy that typically stems from an imbalance between expectations and reality. As such, low self-esteem often manifests as feelings of shame, embarrassment, and insecurity about oneself – among other things – whereas humility does not necessarily involve any negative emotions or thoughts about oneself at all.

Understanding the difference between these two traits is important because low self-esteem and humility are often mistaken for one another. Read on to learn about these two concepts, how they are different from one another, and what you can do to improve your self-esteem.

What Is the Difference Between Humility and Low Self Esteem?

Humility is the opposite of narcissism. If you take care of others and have empathy for your loved ones, you’re expressing humility by demonstrating that you’re not the center of the world.

Those with low self-esteem also prioritize others over themselves, but with a different philosophy. These people believe that they are less than others and don’t deserve what others do in life.

What is Humility?

Here are some traits of people who have a good relationship with humility in life:

  • They are proud of their accomplishments but don’t celebrate them for too long. They know that there is a balance between pride and striving for new goals.
  • They take responsibility for their mistakes and admit their faults. Not as a way of punishing themselves, but rather as a roadmap for how to do better next time.
  • They don’t take advantage of other people or their resources, even when they have a chance to do so. Humble people acknowledge that we all deserve to thrive and we must take turns.
  • They seek the advice of others instead of pretending to be perfect or believing that they know everything.
  • They are willing to change their minds when they’re proven wrong. They value truth over personal correctness.
  • They are honest and open, regardless of whether their truth will be accepted by others.

What is Low Self Esteem?

Low esteem often looks like humility but has a few key differences. Here are some common characteristics of those with low self-esteem:

  • They’re constantly apologizing for things that they didn’t do wrong, as a way of avoiding blame.
  • They don’t ask for help because they believe that other people are better than them and more deserving of their time than they are.
  • They are overly self-critical, especially in conversations. They may express this as humor, but it’s harmful when teasing becomes self-deprecating.
  • They have a hard time accepting compliments from others, even if they’re genuine.
  • They often feel like they do not fit in or that people think poorly of them.
  • They have a difficult time being vulnerable and showing their true selves. They censor themselves at times to fit in or avoid judgment from others.

Can Humility and Self-Confidence Go Together?

Humility does not have to be the opposite of self-confidence. It can coexist with confidence because there is a big difference between being humble and being self-effacing.

In fact, humility relies on confidence. The only way to be humble is to believe in your own worth. Otherwise, you would be sensitive and easily affected by the opinions of others.

Humility is about having integrity, something it shares with the concept of confidence. Integrity is about having the courage to be honest and open with your actions, no matter how good you look.

A way to balance your confidence with your humbleness is to embrace your accomplishments without becoming consumed by them. This is not an easy task, but it’s a worthwhile one if you want to develop both of these traits.

What Is the Root of Low Self-Esteem?

Many people with low self-esteem think that they are the root of their problems. However, it usually has to do with issues stemming from childhood. This can range from parent problems to stress in school, to social pressure from other children. It can even be a combination of all three.

Over time, we stop saying, “my mom upset me because she was drunk,” and start saying, “I’m not good enough because my mom was drunk all the time.”

Even though we may rationally understand how to let go of this thought now that we are older, we often do not let go of it on a subconscious emotional level.

That’s why low self-esteem can be difficult to shake and why it’s important to seek professional help.

If you are struggling with low self-esteem, there is hope for change and happiness in your future. You developed these bad habits over the years as a way to protect yourself, and they have served you very well!

You can thank your low self-esteem for helping to keep you safe while letting it go to embrace healthier and happier ways of thinking and living.

What Are 5 Ways to Improve Self-Esteem?

Here are 5 ways you can work on loosening the grip of low self-esteem:

1. Change Your Self-Talk

Start to notice when you are being self-critical or overly harsh with your words. Do you use insulting words, such as calling yourself an idiot? Do you say something hurtful like “my life is trash?”

Think long and hard about these words. Would you say them to a loved one? Would you even say them to a stranger? It’s time to start reprogramming the way you speak to yourself and treat yourself as well as you would others in your life. Try talking to yourself with compassion and understanding.

2. Practice Affirmations

It can be challenging to make positive statements about yourself without feeling like a fraud if you’re struggling with low self-esteem. Affirmations are a great way to get “exposure therapy” because you say or write the statement over and over until it starts to sink in.

Here are some great affirmations to get started with:

  • I am worthy of happiness.
  • I am enough.
  • My needs are important.
  • I deserve love and respect.
  • It’s safe for me to be vulnerable.
  • There’s no need to hide my feelings or thoughts.
  • I deserve everything that is good in life.

Choose one of these affirmations and say it or write it down each morning or before bed. Learn more about how to write your own affirmations here.

3. Say Something Nice About Yourself Every Day

Stand in a mirror once a day and pay yourself a compliment. This may sound cringy, but it’s a great way to get your self-esteem on the rise. You’ll start to think of new things to compliment yourself on and notice things about your appearance that you didn’t even know you appreciated.

This may also have the dual effect of inspiring you to invest a bit more time in your physical appearance. Try wearing your hair a different way or trying on a new outfit. You might be surprised at how good you feel.

4. Take Care of Yourself Physically

We often mistake low self-esteem for poor health. When you feel good physically, you’re more likely to feel better about yourself. Take care of your body with proper food and exercise.

Sleep is an important part of feeling good physically, so make sure you are getting enough.

5. Join a Support Group or Therapy Session

If your low self-esteem seems to be caused by a traumatic experience or past trauma, seek out support groups and therapy sessions. This is the best way to work through those negative emotions and clear the way for a brighter future.

What Are 5 Ways to Have More Humility?

Humility takes confidence, self-love, and courage. You need to be able to let go of the ego without feeling too threatened or weak.

Here are some ways to start working on developing your humility:

1. Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes

This is a great way to build humility while learning to be more confident in your abilities. If you make a mistake, own up to it and take responsibility for it. This is a great way to practice humility, while also being a good friend or colleague.

2. Don’t Be Afraid of Openness and Vulnerability

It’s okay to let your guard down and be open with those around you. There is no shame in asking for help or saying “I don’t know.” It’s not a sign of weakness.

3. Trust in Others

It can be difficult to trust others, especially when you’re having a hard time trusting yourself. If you find that someone has betrayed your trust, remember that it’s not a reflection of who you are or what kind of person you are.

4. Let Go of the Need to Be “Right”

Humility is about being open and flexible, not stubborn and inflexible. When you are open to being wrong, it shows that you have confidence in yourself and your abilities.

5. Use Your Talents and Gifts to Help Others

Use your talents and gifts to help others. When you do good for someone else, it’s a way of saying “I am enough.” You don’t need anything else to be great. Being of service is the highest form of humility.

Final Thoughts

Humility and low self-esteem may look similar, but they are very different experiences. It’s natural for us to go through moments of low self-esteem and to achieve lofty moments of humility at different points in life.

Focus on making a choice between the two habits. Do you need to heal your relationship with self-esteem? Or are you ready to make the choice for more humility? Use your intuition to decide which path is best for you. If the path is guided by self-love as well as compassion for the world, you can’t be steered wrong.

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