Low Self Esteem In Women

By Leo Gura - May 19, 2014 | 23 Comments

A deeper look at why women have more self-esteem issues than men.

Video Transcript

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Hey, this is Leo for Actualized.org, and in this video I want to talk about low self-esteem in women.

Let’s talk about low self-esteem, especially low self-esteem in women. I have another video I’m going to link down below. It’s called Self Esteem. That’s my fundamental introductory video about what self-esteem is. I go into a lot of depth there about the details of self-esteem.

Here, I’m not going to do that. I’m more interested in the question why do women tend to have more self-esteem issues than men? To me, that was curious. I started looking into that, asking myself questions about why that is. I want to share some of my thought with you, so that you can get more understanding if you’re a woman, about where this is coming from.

Maybe even if you’re a man, and you have women in your life that have this problem, you can also understand where they’re coming from. To get this discussion grounded, we need to talk a little bit about self-esteem. I’m just going to do a recap of the definition of self-esteem.

The Definition

Self-esteem has two components to it. You’ve got self-efficacy and self-respect. Self-efficacy simply means you have the ability to think and direct your own life. It’s how much power you feel you have over the circumstances in your life. That’s self-efficacy.

Self-respect is believing you have inherent value in yourself, and you have a right to be happy. When you have both of these components working together, than you have high self-esteem. If either one of these components is malfunctioning, or both of them are eroded, then you have low self-esteem.

What I tend to find is that women struggle with self-esteem more than men. This is a generalisation. This doesn’t mean a woman can’t have high self-esteem. This doesn’t mean there aren’t women who have much higher self-esteem than men. It’s certainly the case. Many men have self-esteem issues.

With women, it tends to be more of a problem. For them, not only is a problem on the inside, it tends to manifest itself in a problem on the outside in dysfunctional relationships. This tends to create a certain level of codependency, and it makes you an unassertive doormat. Then, basically, men tend to come and walk all over you.

Why is this happening? How can we get an understanding of why this is happening with women? I think if you look at this definition, self-efficacy and self-respect. The self-efficacy part especially, this is your ability to control and direct life. How is that developed?

The way that’s developed in boys and girls is a little bit different. Let’s take a look at some of the cultural underpinnings here. I think the culture has a lot to do with why this disparity exists. When a boy is growing up in our culture, then he’s told to do what? As parents, they put him into sports and other aggressive activities.

The boy’s told he’s going to have a career and a business, and he needs to make money, he needs to provide for his future family, potentially. The boy is always taught to compete, to fight. That’s a very masculine type of energy, that competitive fighting men do with each other. That’s going on with the boys.

A Girl’s World

With the girls, what’s happening? It’s not quite the same, they don’t have those sorts of pressure put on them. It’s more about being nurturing and loving, and being girly and putting that and investing it into a relationship, a family. Women are more about relationships and families. Not so much about going out there and conquering the world.

Although there are many women that are good at that, and I’m in no way discouraging it or saying anything’s wrong with it. That just tends to be the general trend. What happens if you’re always exerting this masculine energy, and you’re always out there pushing the boundaries of the world? What do you think happens to you?

You encounter challenge. You encounter resistance. If you’ve got this kind of motive to just bust through it, then you learn a lot, and you learn fast. This is how rapid learning happens. You immerse yourself. You throw yourself into a tough situation, and then you have to struggle your way out.

This is how military boot camp works. You take a grunt recruit who knows nothing about the military, has no discipline. You throw him into a couple of weeks of boot camp and all of a sudden, he comes out like a real go getter, a real soldier. Why is this happening? Because he’s put under enormous pressure, and he learns very fast.

The mind is extremely good at learning when it’s under pressure. The human being and the human mind is the opposite when it’s not under pressure. It tends to doze off and be lazy, and tends to backslide. Here’s what’s going on — I think this is what’s happening.

With boys, they’re out there competing all the time, so they develop a very strong sense of self-efficacy, because they’re trying stuff, they’re failing, they’re learning how the world works. They get a real sense of ownership over the world. They feel like they have the world by the balls.

With a woman, it’s not quite so much. Women do that on their own terms. Some women are out there doing masculine type things, and that will build them self-efficacy. A lot of women aren’t doing that. A lot of women are playing second fiddle to somebody else in their life, whether it’s to their family, the man in her relationship.

She’s always playing second fiddle and taking the back seat, and he’s the one driving. When this tends to happen, and it tends to happen for long periods of time, your brain starts to literally start to mush. It starts to atrophy. It’s like muscles. If you don’t use your muscles, they atrophy. That’s what’s happening.

Your self-efficacy erodes. When you’re not out there challenging yourself and doing stuff, if you’re sitting at home, if you’re locked up, if you’re cooped up, if you’re not really out here in the world living on your edge, then you’re really in your comfort zone. That tends to build up very big rut.

As that rut is building, your self-efficacy is eroding. You feel like you can’t really control the world. You feel like you become a victim. That is the underlying thread here. This is what’s going on. I think there are also some physiological differences. This is not just purely cultural conditioning. There’s biological differences.

The Physiology

It’s more natural for a man to go out there and compete. That’s masculine energy. For a woman, being in a relationship and being submissive is also more natural. That’s feminine energy. You can see how that can lead to certain disadvantages. Guys have their own sets of disadvantages they have.

I’m not talking about that here. I’ll have other videos about that. Here, we’re just focusing on women. The disadvantage with being very feminine like that, and being very submissive is that you tend to take the back seat, and you don’t have a lot of control. You feel like you’re a victim.

It stuff isn’t going your way, you just tend to tolerate it. That tends to be your coping strategy. It’s just tolerating and bearing it, and just suffering through it. Whereas a man tends to not put up with that as much.

Part of that is the physiology. Women are more compassionate, more nurturing, and these are amazing qualities, but they also have some disadvantages. There’s also amazing qualities that men have, that also have their own disadvantages. Every strength tends to also have a little weakness behind it. It’s like the two sides of the same coin.

For women, I think it’s especially challenging, because they need to, on the one hand maintain their femininity, that’s important to a woman. A feminine woman feels like her authentic self. That’s important. But at the same time, this femininity can’t just be this passive “do whatever you will with me, I’m going to be a doormat”. It needs to be more like “I’m still on my edge, I’m still doing my things, but in a feminine way”.

As a woman, you have to be active and confident, and out there living your edge, but in a feminine way. Do it in a way that feels natural to you as a woman, not the way a man would. If you do that, then you will build that self-efficacy too. You just need to be constantly pushing yourself and challenging yourself in your own way.

That might be very different than it might be for a man. Maybe for you that’s really working on the family, working on the relationship, doing whatever feminine things you like to do, but still pushing yourself in those areas.

Don’t just become very passive. When you become passive and meek, that’s what starts to make that atrophy process happen. When that’s happening, that leads to all sorts of problems. Most importantly, it’s going to lead to dysfunctional relationships. It’s going to create codependency.

It’s going to create this cycle of bad relationships. It’s also going to make you feel very powerless in your life, and that’s not what we want for you. Here, at Actualized.org, it’s all about self-actualization.

For a woman, self-actualization is equally important as it is for a man, because that’s where those higher feelings and higher values are. As a woman, yours are going to be different than a man’s. That’s alright. You’ve got to make sure you’re always on the edge, always pushing your comfort zone, always growing.

Wrap Up

That is what’s the key. This is Leo. This is what I have to say about women and low self-esteem. I’m going to be signing off. Go ahead and post me your comments down below. Like this video if you did. Click the like button so that more people can see it. Throw it up on Facebook. Share it with a friend, so that more people are aware of what’s going on here.

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Janette says:

Thank you. I really enjoy your videos, they are really good and help me.

Leo Gura says:

You bet

Tressa says:

Thank you! Very interesting and insightful

Ashlee Stalling says:

I really wasn’t sure how I felt about a man making a video on this women’s subject…I will admit I was pleasantly surprised. I thought it was great! I have been reading a watching a lot of stuff on this subject, currently Bermasola Dyer’s Getting Past The Ugly (bermesolamdyer.com). Her book I recommend to ALL women, she gives some really helpful teaching on esteem and the like. Worth it! Thanks Leo for giving a great post!

Angella says:

Good talk but I like to add something to this. I believe there is one more reason why women have lower self esteem. As you mention that women are raised to do feminine things such as taking care of a relationship maybe maintaing the house and doing some girly things that are not as competitive as is for the guys. Well, today many women go out there and compete for a higher education and better job. But women are much more emotional and were raised to do feminine things and once they go out to make a life for themselves under so much pressure, that work stress and competition hurts their self esteem. It is too much hard work to do that women are not built for that. It is true that with competition they earn something and that could help with their self esteem but at the same time, they are not emotionally so strong because of their physiology and the way they were raised. Therefore, being under so much pressure and at the same time having to keep a balance between their femininity and working outside like a guy hurts their confidence. It is something like an emotional confusion for women. That is my is just my thought.

girls says:

Hi Leo. Did you mean women are not made for creativity works such as engineering ? And they can only progress in their relationships and girly matters ? Well then as a girl I would start hating life and It’s complete injustice to be this way ! I love to be creative and make a change in life. This is what your other videos talk about. And should I supposed that you were just talking to men about that ?
I don’t think there is any rule that says every woman is forced to be a woman! or always have a relationship ! Or always be as emotional as men think.
you said about some biological differences . Can you talk more about that ?

Leo Gura says:

Of course women can be creative. Many women are more creative than men. But a man’s sense of identity is usually more connected to his work than a woman’s. It’s a generalization. There are many exceptions.

Stephanie says:

I just LOVE this video, from a guy!!!!! Listen to it, especially if you are a woman!!!!it help me a 40-year-old to understand male female relationship. Awesome. Thank you Leo!!!!

Leo Gura says:

Thanks for the kind words

Melody says:

Your mojo is non existing in this clip. Are you going through hard times? Hope not.

Angie Eissa says:

I have decided to setup a non-profit Organization for helping abused women in Egypt because you would not believe the amount of emotional, mental abuse as well as physical that is been practiced on women over here. To start on the right track, I have decided to do extensive researching, not just about abuse and toxic relationships, I felt I must start with my own personal development. I had so many unanswered questions and needed to fully develop before I offer help to others.

Your videos are truly helping me get all the answers that i was looking for. I have done some reading but I wasn’t as captivated and convinced as I am now with your explanations.

Thank you Leo. You are not just helping me become a more stable, confident, mindful person but eventually this message will help many women out in a third world country where all (majority) of women are treated as doormats and accepted with a smile since there is no other option.

Ronda says:

Thanks Leo, I love your Videos,

Natasha says:

It took me some time of self-education to learn how men think and why they behave in certain ways. Not bad or wrong, just different. That knowledge helped me understand and appreciate men better, and to empathize with their struggles and pressures. Respect is #1 thing men need.

As far as low self-esteem in women, a lot of times our soft nurturing side is mistaken for weakness by men. Women tend to tolerate bs from guys not because women are weak, but because they are driven by their maternal instinct that wants to comfort, hope, wait, ease pain, nurture. They see an angry man as a wounded man, not someone who would purposely want to hurt them. Unfortunately, there are lots of men out there who neither understand nor appreciate that maternal side in a woman, often confusing it with control and disrespect. And if both partners live with low level of self-consciousness, a vicious cycle of spiraling fear and dis-function becomes unavoidable.

Same can be said about women not ‘getting’ men psychologically. So the key is really to become more mindful and appreciative of each other differences, and treat those with a large measure of compassion and respect.

Anna says:

Hi Leo,

After listening to this video, I’m curious what your opinions are concerning gender as a cultural construct?

I’m not disagreeing that, biologically, men and women do have inherent differences, but gender (being “male” or “female”) is then assigned to each person based on sex, and is continuously learned over one’s lifetime. You did refer to that somewhat, per your discussion of how boys are pushed to be competitive, aggressive, etc. and girls to be nurturing, compliant, and so forth.

However, saying women increasing their self-esteem through “feminine” means makes them authentic – I don’t necessarily agree. Isn’t that simply perpetuating gender stereotypes of what makes men “masculine” and women “feminine”? Can a woman who displays masculine attributes therefore not feel like her authentic self, and vice-versa? This concept also feeds back into the gender binary – that there are one two possible genders: male or female. And whatever gender you are assigned at birth determines what physical and psychological traits you’re expected to display throughout life.

I haven’t heard you touch on this topic, so I would be really curious to hear your thoughts and opinions.

That being said, thank you for the thoughtful videos, and for all the others. I only discovered actualized.org a few days, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far!



Leo Gura says:

Masculinity and femininity are not binary. They are a spectrum with poles on opposite ends. Some men are more feminine than some women. Some women are more masculine than some men. But this is the exception. Most men are quite masculine and most women are quite feminine.

I’ll shoot a video about this cause a lot of folks get confused by it.

Taylor says:

Excellent video Leo…. very helpful. I really appreciate your videos

Sara says:

I’ve really been enjoying all of the videos and getting some growth from them. Of course I respect all the work Leo has put into educating himself in so many areas. But as a woman I feel like I have a little more experience on what it’s like.. being a woman. This isn’t the 1950’s where the expectation is that women keep up the house, raise the kids, and know how to make a meal. Women fought like hell so that we could have the same privileges and opportunities as men. So when Leo says that women aren’t out there challenging themselves, they are just sitting at home and their brains start to atrophy and that that is why women have low self-esteem… that’s horseshit. And I’ll to tell you why. Women fought for, and gained a lot of rights so that they could get on equal ground with men. So women are now able to, and are also expected to go to work, “contribute” to society. But we didn’t get a break from that other huge role we have, which is to keep up the home, raise the kids, take care of a man. Oh yeah, and we still have to be feminine (translation… you still need to look good). It’s 2016 and women are still only making .77 per every dollar a man makes for doing the same job. Women have to work harder than men to get credibility, to move up the chain. Men and women have this unconscious belief that women are not as competent as men. Men are more valued than women are in the workplace, which is not only evident by the pay differences, but men get preferential treatment over women in the workplace by male AND female administration. Women are expected to succeed in multiple roles now and at the same time we have to be careful not to be too driven or assertive in the workplace because then people will accuse you of being a shitty mom. But don’t call in to work just to stay home with your sick kid either, because then you aren’t committed to your job. I’m blown away by one of the comments saying that women are emotionally weaker than men. What in the hell? If you want to know what GRIT and real emotional strength are then go talk to a single mother that is hustling her ass off to survive. This is why women have low self-esteem… little girls are inundated from birth that their appearance is the number one thing that they will be valued for. Every Disney Princess movie is about a beautiful princess and the plot is always how she gets a man. And you have the evil stepmother and the ugly stepsisters hatin on her. So while boys have that whole comradery/bro code thing going on from team sports… girls are pitted against each other as potential competition. Women have all these expectations and standards but when it comes down to it, we still can’t get paid right, we still don’t get acknowledged for all the shit we do (but let’s get another video of a dad doing his daughter’s hair to go viral because somehow that is going above and beyond). And at the end of the day a woman can accomplish some really, really incredible shit but all the media is going to talk about is how ugly or hot or fat she is. Women’s self-efficacy is shit because no matter what accomplish, it still isn’t good enough in this society.

Sceptical woman says:

agree 100%

Khrystyna says:

Couldn’t agree more.

Sceptical woman says:

I am a woman with self confidence issues and I felt offended by your video. You have some valid points, but then you connect them together in a way which is really generalising, simplifying and missing a lot of important things on the way.

I have been raised in the way that my parents always told me that I have to be strong and earn my own money, and the sooner I start the better as they will not provide for me. I had no brothers, I was the oldest child, and had the most expectations towards me. I currently live on my own, I am able to out aside more than half of my salary for savings, I have accomplished way more than other people from the environment that I grew up in, many people give me compliments that I can do so many things and I do them well – not only work, but also arts – and still I have fu..ing huge self confidence problems. And I know why I have them. Because I have been growing up hearing constantly that WOMEN ARE WORSE THAN MEN. I think for me that was the biggest problem, not my brain having degenerated (as one may think after watching your video). This is still in the society (at least here in Europe, don’t know about other places), it is still the notion. Woman always has to prove herself before anyone that does not want to fuck her listens to her. In the country where I live women are paid less than men for the same job. I feel like second class citizen, all my life I felt so. This is the reality, and even if people say “we are equal” they still have in the back of their heads “of course I mean equal in the way that a woman can possibly be, right”.

Lucy says:

Your dedication and passion for the truth is deep and beautiful.
And because of your amazing work, I can’t help but feel “Love” for you…

I wish and hope, all of what your desires and dreams to come true for you…

Eternally greatful,


Jess says:

Very tricky territory you’re exploring Leo… I notice it is only a 10 minute video. I am a grateful admirative fan of your work but here you seem to have got things mixed up, in my view.

Come on Leo, women are not brain dead from enduring their cultural circumstance! Women’s minds are not “turning to mush” whilst men go fight and gain strength..! Can’t you see it’s rather the other way around?

Question: Have you researched into whether you have more female or male viewers…? I bet you have more women Because we are the ones learning, challenging ourselves, curious, and naturally resiliant. Men have none of this to do, as they are plainly and simply handed over the tools and trainings to accomplish stuff from an early age, as you said. Therefore, this is made ‘easy’ for you.. We, on the other hand, are the ones to have to go snatch these keys cleverly and cunningly from the masculine clutch, whilst acing all other aspects of life such as relationships, appearance, whatever.

So, I ask you, which is REALLY the stronger gender here, psychologically speaking??


I Am Not Pretty Someone who’s considered pretty thinks of themself as ugly.
An attractive woman (usually) insists they are not attractive. is a very attractive woman, but insists she is just plain. has slightly above-average looks, but thinks herself to have slightly below-average looks. has body image issues is told she is beautiful, she seems more confused than pleased.

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