Low self-esteem can come and go, with many people understanding that it’s a part of life to get down on yourself every so often. It’s not fun when that happens, but, hey, we’re human, so it’s important to understand that things aren’t always going to be perfect for us. Knowing how to deal with the issue and not let it linger, though, that’s where some guys struggle the most.

The problem with low self-esteem is that it can come at anytime, with some guys forced to deal with insecurity, depression or confidence issues when they’re, generally speaking, happy. Much like an Instagram picture, though, there’s more than what people see on the surface, as people with low self-esteem can disguise their true feelings from people until it’s too late, leading to worse problems and, in some cases, thoughts or attempts at suicide.

It’s important to know that having low self-esteem every once in awhile is normal, so no one should feel inferior if it creeps into your mind — no matter how long it marinates in there. We all have things we’d like to change about ourselves. We all go through periods of hardships. We all wish we could have more. Channeling those negative feelings as best you can and pushing through them is the way to overcome low self-esteem.

For those guys who don’t speak up about their problems, it’s important to notice some signs that they may be showing in order to help them out. Prying and asking someone if they’re “OK” isn’t going to get the job done, though, so here are some warning signs of low self-esteem to keep an eye out for, as well as some how you can help.

What are some signs of low self-esteem in guys to look for?

Low self-esteem impacts everyone, and it happens in different ways. Some people are able to experience a bad day and move on from it after a good night’s rest, or a run, or a night out with friend’s to help them forget about what happened. Other people take problems and make them much bigger than they need to be, focusing on it over and over, using it as a scapegoat for everything going wrong in his life.

If a friend of yours seems to do this, he may be going through something bigger than he wants to admit. That’s why it’s important to look for some signs that show something’s not quite right. Here are a few of signs of constant low self-esteem.

  • Extreme self-deprecation
  • Jealousy
  • Critical of others
  • Possessive
  • He’s always negative
  • Prone to arguing
  • Isolated

Of course, there are some others signs of having low self-esteem, but the ones above are the easiest to look for; and they’re all things that you should speak up about if you recognize them.

If someone showing signs of low self-esteem says he’s OK, do I dig deeper?

Yes, absolutely. Nobody wants to show signs weakness for some reason, so when a buddy says he’s “OK” when he’s showing signs of low self-esteem, you’re going to want to try and slyly get to the root of the problem. This means listening a little closer to what he says and keeping a watchful eye on what he might do.

For instance, if your friend is going through a tough break-up and hasn’t shown signs of himself since, but continuously says he’s fine, it might be time to encourage him to talk to a therapist or other professional. Most guys never resort to doing something like that, thinking that they’ll overcome the issue on their own over time. That’s not always the case, though.

Another example would be if your buddy keeps talking about how bad work is and how he’s stuck in a rut with searching for a new job, yet continually abuses alcohol to help ease his mind and break out of his shell. We all know this is a sign of confidence issues, or worse, depression, so you’ll definitely want to talk to him and encourage him to get help to get back on a better path for himself.

Is positive feedback a good way to help get them out of their low self-esteem rut?

People with low self-esteem might like to hear positive feedback, but, really, it only acts as a band-aid if a problem is bigger than they want to admit. It’s an old adage, but people have to learn how to love themselves before they allow anyone else to love them. That means friends, family and significant others, too, so don’t think that over-complimenting a buddy with low self-esteem will instantly get them to start thinking more positively.

Rather than just praise them with kind words over and over, telling them how great they are or how lucky they are, it’s best to encourage them to remain around other people who they trust, so not to fall deeper into negative thoughts about themselves. This may mean inviting the person with low self-esteem to new things, planning a weekly get together or simply lending them a couple ears to listen to what’s going on. Being available is the best way to give positive feedback to someone with low self-esteem, because actions always speak louder than words.

If all else fails, how can I help a guy who’s experiencing low self-esteem?

Assuming you’ve done everything you can to be available for your friend without sacrificing your own mental health, when it gets to the point where it’s starting to be taxing on you every time the two of you are together, that’s when you need to demand he gets professional help. It’s one thing for a person’s low self-esteem to impact only them, it’s a different animal when it’s weighing on the minds of other people who want to help but he’s not accepting of it.

You don’t want to necessarily give an ultimatum of, “if you don’t get help, I really don’t want to hangout anymore,” or anything, but you do want to put pressure on him to identify there’s a problem that’s affecting people he cares about and, because he’s been unwilling to make positive changes, he’s now forced to make changes on his own.