Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and thought, “This dress would have looked better on me if I wasn’t so fat!” Or what about this thought – “Maybe if I acted more confidently or were a little more like [him or her], I would have been married by now.” Indeed, it might not be exactly in these words, but as soon as you start to doubt yourself because of your being, that’s insecurity. It’s common for human nature to feel insecure occasionally — we can’t all be perfect. But if you cannot seem to kick out that depressing thought for a wave of self-confidence or self-worth, then it might become a problem. In this article, we’ll define insecurities, talk about the signs that come with it, the common causes, and how you can overcome it. So let’s get into it!
Oxford Language Definitions define insecurities as uncertainty or anxiety about oneself — a lack of confidence. Merriam-Webster defines it as a deficiency in assurance, beset by fear and anxiety. But what about a definition from the medical experts? In other words, what does insecurity mean in the medical world? According to WebMD, insecurity is the sensation of unease and inadequacy. It is a mental ailment, according to a different medical website, that is connected to other mental health issues like dependent or addictive personalities, paranoia, anxiety, or narcissism.
So again, what does insecurity mean? Here’s the simple answer. It is an illness that requires both diagnosis and treatment. This condition should not be disregarded. It might be shared and seem normal, but it shouldn’t be the normal state of mind. When you constantly feel insecure, it is a sign of self-inadequacy, anxiety, with a dash of low-self esteem. That’s why there is a need to seek help. But you cannot get any help until you know there is a need for help. Right?
Signs of insecurity
Before going into your different personal experiences, let’s look at the common signs of insecurity.
- Constant low self-esteem in oneself.
- Excessive self-consciousness down to the tiniest details.
- Bragging or the constant need to prove your worth to others.
- The constant desire to be alone.
- Awkwardness around other people with no social connection.
- The constant need to compare yourself with others in an unhealthy manner.
- Being too critical of others.
- Dulled emotions at most times.
- Excessive worry about most things (anxiety).
- The desire to be perfect and a constant dissatisfaction in oneself.
- Being overly sensitive or negatively taking jokes.
- Never seeing yourself in a good light.
- Being quick to judge yourself negatively with little or no positive self-affirmation.
In a relationship or at work, an insecure person may show the following signs of insecurity:
- Excessive or constant jealousy, even when there is no solid need for it
- Feeling the need always to please people
- The constant need for appraisals. Insecure people feel less of themselves if others do not praise them.
- Over-controlling of people or an environment.
- Excessively seeking reassurance, especially in a romantic relationship.
Why am I so insecure?
People are not born insecure. Truly, we live in a narcissistic world where social media standards and excessively high-expectation of self can make you question your worth or your achievement. But this should not make you think less of yourself. It should not make you doubt your abilities and certainly should not make you forget your uniqueness and special abilities. So it’s time to ask yourself the question that has an answer – why am I so insecure? Why do I find myself worrying about tomorrow – about the future? Why am I not happy with myself? Why do self-worth and self-confidence seem too far-fetched?
What causes insecurity?
These are the things that can cause insecurity:
- Past Experiences: Victims of bullying, segregation, or other similar experiences might grow up to become insecure themselves. This possibility is more common among those who have been bullied. While some victims eventually recover from the feeling, others grow to think little of themselves, feeling the need to please people or remain socially awkward.
- Societal Standards: For some people, it is not about the past but current trends. Women are expected to be beautiful (and curvy), and men are expected to be millionaires. But the reality remains that most of the population does not fall under these categories. However, it does not cross out the fact that some people start to doubt their chances of success because of these standards.
- Childhood Upbringing: Another reason you could feel insecure is how you were raised. Children start developing self-confidence and self-worth when seen for who they are. But if the children are forced to be what they are not, seen for what they are not, or not allowed to do what makes them happy, the result is usually an insecure adult of either the controlling and bragging type or the retreating type.
- Recent Experiences: In rare cases, insecurities could develop along the line of adulthood. For instance, if you worked hard for a promotion and didn’t get it after many tries or job hunting seems unsuccessful (repeatedly), it could cause insecurities, anxiety, and uncertainty in your talents.
- Mental Health Conditions: Patients who suffer from anxiety or depression have symptoms that include insecurity and feelings of worthlessness. The same goes for anxiety patients and those with cluster C personality disorder.
- Toxic Relationships: Relationships with a controlling or abusive partner or friendships with other insecure but controlling people can make you feel less of yourself. This is the same for those with an insecure attachment style.
How Insecure Are You?
As you might already know, insecurities have levels and types. There are extreme cases, and there are minor cases. Some people are jealous, controlling, and highly defensive even when there is no need to be. These people always brag and, at every slight chance, talk about their accomplishments (which, most times, are already obvious). Then there are also the people that always want to please others and require appraisal and reassurance. Finally, some people choose to stay away from others. They refuse to try because of fear of failure and become negative Nancies. So what level are you? What makes you ask yourself, ‘Why am I so insecure?’ Which of the three cases do you resort to?; and most importantly, are you ready to stop being insecure?
How to Stop Being Insecure?
The first step to stop being insecure is to acknowledge that you are experiencing insecurities. Look at the signs we mentioned earlier and ask yourself if you experience any of those symptoms. Do you ask yourself questions that show your self-doubt? Are you always anxious or worried? Do you need to please others or prove yourself to others? Do you constantly seek appraisal and reassurance? Are you socially awkward? Your response will determine your next step.
How to overcome insecurities?
After acknowledging the need for a change, you need to overcome it. Here are the possible steps to overcoming insecurities:
- Forget about perfection and embrace progress: Instead of chasing after being the best or better than another person, focus on your growth and progress. Remember that you are good enough and doing the best you can.
- Accept your insecurities: Speaking of not being perfect, you must accept that some parts of you might feel awkward. It could be your physical insecurities or an emotional imperfection. Whatever it is, you shouldn’t judge yourself because of it. Instead, if it is something you can work on, work on it.
- Don’t compare yourself to others: You can look up to people or have mentors. But when you start to measure yourself up with another person, then it becomes unhealthy. Everyone is special, unique, and, most importantly, different.
- Take care of yourself: Whether it is positive self-affirmation, meditation, keeping a journal, or acts of self-love, you need to love yourself to become confident in yourself. Exercise, eat healthy, take some time out to rest, do something fun, and most importantly, validate yourself.
- Develop social skills: Sometimes, the reason for insecurities is social awkwardness. So instead of retreating into the background, learn how to interact with others. When you become more socially confident, insecurities will become a stranger.
- Let go of nasty comments: Surely feedback is essential; sometimes, you might get a negative reply on your work. But that does not define who you are, just your work. In that case, practice letting go of nasty comments and negative words.
- Remove yourself from toxic relationships: Whether it is letting go of friends or a partner, you need to remove yourself from obvious triggers of insecurities. So it is not just about practicing self-love; it is also about surrounding yourself with people supporting your new self.
Seek Support from a Therapist
While you can do all of the above yourself, getting support from a qualified therapist can make a huge difference in your healing process. A therapist is already experienced and can give you tips on what might be causing your challenges, how you can fix them, and what you need to stay away from.