Comments on
5 Things to Do When You Feel Insecure

German psychoanalyst Eric Fromm said, “The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.”

Everyone I have ever known — I take that back — every likable person I have ever known in this world has admitted to periods of sheer insecurity. They looked at themselves from the perspective of someone else — perhaps a person with no appreciation of their talents, personality traits, abilities—and judged themselves unfairly according to the perverted view.

I am terribly insecure much of the time. I grew up with bad acne, braces, and a twin sister who was in the popular group. The adolescent self-doubt had sticking power. At times I can pull off the image of a self-confident author and writer, but it usually lasts as long as the speaking event or lunch with my editor.

Lately the junior high inferiority complex has made a surprise visit, and I’m more insecure than usual. So here’s one of those lists that people are always writing — suggestions on what to do if you are feeling insecure, too.

43 Comments to
5 Things to Do When You Feel Insecure

The comments below begin with the oldest comments first. (If there's more than one page, click on the last comments page to jump to the most recent comments.) Jump to reply form.

  1. A great article! really helped!

  2. Therese, this is really well done. I clicked on the article not really expecting to learn anything new, but by the time I read that well-chosen and rather amazing quote from Stephen Fry, I knew I was in the hands of someone who could treat this important subject with more panache than it usually receives! Thanks for this.

  3. These steps are very helpful and I greatly appreciate the time spent. I’ve been wondering about my teenage daughter, and now I was able to define her needs
    better. I truly had a ” a ha moment” Awesome!!

  4. Are you kidding? This is absurd. Insecurity is not humility, it’s not invisible (hint: attention seeking behavior that goes along with insecurity is INCREDIBLY obvious, and usually obnoxious), and advising someone insecure to become a shut-in is pretty much 100% counterproductive.

    • I agree – avoiding what make you insecure is giving into weakness. It’s self-limiting behavior that keeps you from flourishing. Ladies and gentlemen, I respect that Therese has the guts to open up about how she deals with insecurity, but please know that there are better ways then “hiding.”
      Like . . oh I don’t know. . . giving yourself an internal “talk” to boost your self esteem . It is called, after all SELF esteem. Not OTHERS esteem.
      Look your insecurities squarely in the face and then bravely plow right through them until they are no more. This can take a bit of practice, but I promise you: You will eventually conquer those feelings – – you WILL flourish — Know it!

      • I agree with your response. I was very insecure after a lifetime of being put down…..not any more ! I deserve to be content with myself for who and what I am. Hiding our feelings leads to outbursts of anger fuled usually by resentment which can be avoided by facing things head on …then moving on. We all are the person we make ourselves to be, strong or victim- I know which I would rather be. :)

  5. Thanks. Made me feel better.

  6. Thank you, this was a lovely article. I’m still trying to figure out where my insecurity stems from, but this will help when it hits. The biggest struggle for me is being in a relationship. When I am single, I have all the confidence in the world. When I am with another, not matter how loving this person may be, I struggle with feelings that I am not good enough. I don’t understand.

    • I too am noticing this about myself. Thanks for shedding a little light

    • Your self worth does not come from another person! You’re giving men the power to determine your worth. That’s why your insecurities show when you’re in a relationship.

  7. Being insecure is NOT something invisible. In fact, women, children, human bullies and even animals can detect it easily and lunch an attack on the vulnerable person. Our body language give us out, so does out tone of voice, etc, etc. When one is insecure, people can read it, smell it, sense it. I was looking for the solutions that would help me with NOT coming across as such, so I’m dissapointed with this post.

  8. I really needed this. I appreciate your experiences and ability to make them into something positive. I started out searching for an article that would have had a lot of medical mombo-jumbo in it and probably theories and scientific studies about people with insecurities but this was so much more helpful for me. The take you have on insecurity makes me like myself a little more. Thank you.

  9. Thanks Therese. Really good advise on a tough day. I will keep your article close.

  10. 0h.,, thanks f0r this article, i learn much,. .

  11. the last one really helps me feel better. Thanks!

  12. While this may make people riddled with insecurity *feel* better – it will not actually help them.

    I find that often insecurity is very much wrapped up in pride – albeit in the blanket of bruised ego. Humility is about understanding one’s limitations and being ok with that. Insecurity is about feeling crippled by the fear and loathing that you don’t measure up to other people. We may feel sorry for insecure people because they appear weak – but underlying that insecurity is often a mean streak when they lash out in passive-aggressive ways against people they feel they fall short around. Why feel insecure about average looks or intelligence unless you crave to be one of the most attractive/smart people in the room?

    Humility says you don’t care when you are not at the top and don’t obsess over it. The insecure people I know very well are the most self-absorbed, obsessed over their perceived shortcomings and annoying everyone around them.

    • Hi Annie,
      While I agree whole-heartedly that this article is soothing rather than helpful, I do think that you may be mixing up the feelings of insecurity with how people may express those feelings. I get the feeling that the article is directed at people who are doing their best to keep their insecurities hidden and maybe feel too shy to speak up in social situations. Whereas you’re referring to people who externalise their insecurity by constantly looking for reassurance and validation and, as you say, their real need is for attention.

  13. This was really very helpful, thank you. told me that i am not the only person who is that way. I understand what you mean by insecurity being equivalent to humility. insecure people in a way can understand their weaknesses.

  14. This was a treasure to find after a very disheartening conference call at work.

  15. A mixed bag here. Ok, a little different and more specific tips than the usual ‘just love yourself, simples!’ stuff. But as has been said already, encouraging people to avoid challenging situations and only surround yourself with people who flatter you (which is NOT the same as supporting you), really?? This kind of article is fine for people who just want to feel better for half a second, but for more critical thinkers, nope! Self-reflection and in the meantime, just power through!

    • I think avoiding certain people is excellent advice. Especially when you realize they are getting something out of trying to make you feel more insecure. Of course if you have to deal with them at work or at family functions, then it is time to learn some verbal self defense. But if you are on your “off” time, there is no reason to spend it with people you have to be on guard around or otherwise make you feel unhappy. Also the author said if you are having a real bad day, to give yourself a break. She didn’t say to always shirk these kinds of challenges.

  16. Thank you. Your article saved my life. It’s strengthening, putting me in control of my own life, and yet being sensitive and caring of others. We do have to protect ourselves in this world. Some of us do it better then others. But giving myself permission is the first step, and your article gives me the direction in which to step. Thank you.

  17. I love this article. It made me understand myself more and understand how human it is to feel insecure. I’m going through something right now and this opened my mind; I feel better already. Thanks ♥

  18. Very lovely article, you point of view is… realistic. Being in public sometimes, I experience a rush of anxiety from being so insecure. Though only sometimes, it’s still annoying.. so annoying I decide to not give any f**ks because nobody can see I’m insecure unless I make it obvious and awkward. Thank you again for the insight (that’s something you can add). Don’t ever obtain a filter, makes life easier and is very refreshing.

  19. I agree with all but the third one, although some people naturally won’t get along or click, in my experience when you spend some serious time with people that you may feel inferior too and or feel insecure around you eventually begin to realize that they are not so different from you, then again im only 19 and maybe you know better but this has time again proven to be true in my experiences. Then again I’ve really only had these opportunities on spiritual retreats or service trip/shared living experiences, where your forced to live with and get to know people you might not have otherwise. I’ve been on two and I always come away more confident and secure in knowing that I’m not the only one who has fears and insecurities even those people who emit great confidence and seem overly secure.

  20. Theres more to this than I feel some of us are seeing. Yes, it is how to deal with the feeling of insecurity at that moment (paracetamol for a headache, rather than analysis of what is causing the headache), yet it touches on the deeper aspect of insecurity…if you can perfect these tips you can build mechanisms to prevent insecurity beong more than a passing sensation in the future. Those of us who say you need to learn to drive through insecurity and barge the naysayers out of the way don’t, in my opinion, fully understand insecurity as a chronic issue. And only as an occasional feeling… If they did they’d know that when you’re insecure you don’t have the gusto to do that and some of us may never be able to rise above it and charge forward. This article is good, basic self help to get you through a bad patch… Its not a magic wand to prevent you from feeling insecure ever again. Regarding humility – this is spot on, in my view. Feeling insecure from time to time and being aware of it stops us from becoming arrogant and overly bold…therefore it’s part of our longer term cure – the more frequently we feel low and bounce back, the easier it is to not allow ourselves to get stuck in a rut next time.

  21. So it is being encouraged that if you feel insecure to simply void people who MAKE you feel this way? Last I cheked that’s surrendering responsibility for YOUR feelings. Nobody can make you feel anything. That statement alone wreaks of insecurity. The solution is to face those people. Surround yourself with those who’ve overcome this nasty bad habit of feeling insecure. I have not overcome much insecurity by isolating myself from people stronger than I am, but by enveloping myself within the confines of their wisdom and actions.

    The more you run, the worse it becomes. That kind of behavior breeds lonliness which leads to depression often times. Sometimes this begets suicidal behavior.

    You have to tell yourself the truth. Insecurity is a compilation of lies you beat yourself up with.

    I’ve found this article to be ill-inforned and full of enablement for unhealthy behaviors.

  22. Thanks for the article. I’ve been insecure for a long time and I’ve realized that others feel the same way and that I have to also realize that everyone has flaws and that some people can’t notice them; only you can. I would always point out all my flaws and never focus on my gifts that I have. You need to ignore it; stop thinking about it because nobody is perfect and I mean NOBODY. But this article made me see that others may not look at me the way i do. I just have to keep pushing forward and love who I am. Thank you so much for writing this. It’s good and I really don’t give a crap what any haters think because honestly it helped me and that’s all that matters. So haters, SUCK IT.

  23. Wow this is interesting, somehow this text is so much better than anything I ever found on the internet.
    Anyway, I loved this inspiring text

  24. Thank you.

  25. I’m someone that has been trying to get rid of those insecure thoughts. Reading this article was really an eye opener. Thank you!

  26. What if the people that are making you feel insecure are your closest friends? I love them to pieces but at the moment every time I see them if reminds me of that party I want invited to, or how stupid I look in every photo, or how we all ‘share’ each other even though we all know we have a favourite friend.

  27. Thank you. I too need to surround myself with those who want to see me succeed and appreciate my talents. Also I have to groom my dog on a Tuesday night to avoid certain people. I needed that laugh..thanks

  28. Hi everyone, my name is Phil. I just wanted to share a couple thoughts I had. There is one main thing that I wanted to voice that I think is extremely important in my opinion. I think the goal in dealing with insecurities, as someone who is insecure personally, is to move towards relationship and intimacy and not away. Intimacy and shame cannot coexist. Insecurities lead to shame along with all the other negative feelings that we all know too well that make us want to run away and hide–and not “join in,” as said in the number 1 quote. What goes hand-in-hand with intimacy and the full life that lies in relational intimacy with those around you is vulnerability. Vulnerability is humility in action. Vulnerability is letting others see your insecurities and offering them the chance to still accept you in relationship. This is the only way to let people know who you are to come close to the true you and to have the joy that comes with being known and mutually accepting one another. I share all of this because I got the vibe that maybe this article or some commenters (at least some people in this world!) instead of pursuing patient growth and change towards these good things, ends up moving away from vulnerability and moving away from relationship. Most times in life, the people we should move towards and be vulnerable with are exactly those who make us feel insecure!!! That is why number 3 should be taken, in my opinion, to be helpful only if those people are in fact harmful or not a good match for you. Insecurity comes from within and is made up of our perceptions and self-made stories whether true or not, rather than it being a judgment that someone from without actually believes or projects on you, as the number 5 implies. The problem does not lie outside ourselves, but people worth relationship with us do. All the more why I want to “join in” with those who make me feel insecure! In fact, I personally believe I need to make strives towards joining in if I want to push against the cycle of isolation and become someone who grows towards intimacy and vulnerability. The second reason I shared this is because of trying to shed light on number 1. Insecurity is not humility, but it’s what you do with your insecurity that gets the humility stamp of approval. Humility is a decision and response that you can have towards your insecurity and those who make you feel insecure. This is what I meant by vulnerability is humility in action. Many people with insecurities just stuff them down, which is an expression of fear, not humility, which, when leading to true vulnerability, results in the most brave thing you can do. I wish you all the best in your journeys, hoping you pursue life to the full, rich with the love of relational intimacy, resolved to not settle for tempting substitutes in despair when much more lies at the doorstep of those willing to risk it in the messy foray of relational vulnerability.

    All the best, Phil.

  29. I’ll add something for your self-esteem file… you helped me by writing this! A total stranger! And I really appreciate it. :)

  30. This is going in my self-esteem file! Thanks!

  31. I somewhat disagree with some of the points in the article, I know from experience that you cannot avoid negative people, their everywhere. I was hoping this article gave more details on how to conquer the insecurities in oneself rather than cover the up because no one can see them. I have insecurities because of past life and current life experiences and have avoided people all my life, I was always the quiet person. I decided not to run anymore, not to hide my feelings and confront them by only focusing on the positive people and things in life.

  32. Whilst I do agree with some of what is said in this article, I do not think it is necessarily always a good thing to blurt out exactly what we are thinking, apparently without any thought about the effect our words might have on others.

    Nor, except in a very narrow range of circumstances, would I consider it a particular virtue to be able to insult at least two other people in 10 seconds flat.

    I’m truly glad to hear you have friends to support you but I believe we all need to try to keep in mind that feeling good about ourselves does not mean making others feel bad about themselves.

  33. Seriously?? When I’m in high school, I developed acnes, wears braces, and had a twin in the popular group too!
    Okay, this article helps, BTW. Thx so much!!

  34. Amazing article. I feel like you and I could be great friends. Thank you for sharing your gift!

  35. I am a Member of a Closed Group on Facebook. We have 8000+ wonderful people, Most of us are very open with each other about things that are bothering us. We all band together when one of our members is having a rough time. Because of this we have a Feeling of a family Atmosphere in our group. I am the Second oldest member (as Far as I know) of the group which Range from the ages 11 to 49.

    I have already Posted my Views of Ego and how there is a healthy Level of Ego and an Unhealthy Level Of Ego. Many of the Members Have a dangerously low Level of Self-Esteem, Self-Pride, Self-respect or as I referred to it as Low-Ego. I have noticed that The insecurities of the members is what is causing these low levels of healthy Ego. I am Running out of things to post to help them through their rough times. I guess, because of my own insecurities, I am afraid I am going to say the wrong things and make a situation worse.

    I am Thinking about Sharing this Article with the members and I would like to get the members to Participate in the Self Esteem File you mentioned, but we are talking about 8000 people here, I have no idea where to start.

    Sorry this Comment is so Long, but I want to Share with you the Post I made about Ego, I hope you Don’t Mind:

    The intention of this post is to INVOKE thought….
    NOT to Provoke an Argument or Hate Comments.

    I have kept this in the first person because this is My understanding of the Word EGO, My Opinion.

    Let’s talk about Ego …

    The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of EGO is as Follows:

    a REASONABLE or JUSTIFIABLE SENSE of one’s worth or importance:

    Synonyms of Ego in the Healthy Context of the word are as Follows:

    pride, pridefulness, self-esteem, self-regard, self-respect

    There is nothing wrong with having an Ego,
    until it reaches an unhealthy level.

    an often UNJUSTIFIED feeling of being pleased with oneself or with one’s situation or achievements:

    Synonyms of Ego in the Unhealthy Context of the word are as Follows:

    amour propre, bighead, complacency, conceit, conceitedness, complacence, egotism, pomposity, pompousness, pride, pridefulness, self-admiration, self-assumption, self-conceit, self-congratulation, self-esteem, self-glory, self-importance, self-love, self-opinion, self-satisfaction, smugness, swelled head, swellheadedness, vaingloriousness, vainglory, vainness, vanity.

    There are Two Ways I perceive the word EGO:

    1. In a Positive Manner: When I notice an individual has a low Self-Esteem, and all the other Synonyms of the Healthy Context of the Word EGO…

    …I feel it is a good idea to help that person to feel better about themselves, to say a few kind, and loving words, and I will continue to do so.

    In My opinion this world has way to many absolutely wonderful people with a Low-EGO and those wonderful people deserve to have, at the very least, a Healthy Level Of Ego. Why do These Individuals Deserve it? ….


    2. In a Negative Manner: To be Perfectly Honest with you, I have no Understanding of Ego in negative manner. This is Extremely difficult for me to express in words, because of that lack of understanding. It is an enigma to me.

    I do not see a single individual as any better than myself or any other individual…

    … and I certainly do not see myself as any better than any other individual,
    I feel we are all Equal.

    Thank you for Taking the Time to Read my Very Long Comment, it is greatly Appreciated.
    Any Guidance I could be given in my Endeavor to Help a few really wonderful people would be greatly Appreciated also.

  36. good article. but I disagree on some things. putting things on your list people say is not a good idea in my opinion because that is approval seeking behavior. your basically saying these people like me so I must be good. which is fine. but then you are more likely to feel down if they say something bad about you. I think its better to realize you are good regardless of their opinion on you. this has helped me.

  37. Geez, pipe down people, it’s just an article and an opinion of one person. I thought it was great and very helpful.



Join the Conversation!

We invite you to share your thoughts and tell us what you think in this public forum. Before posting, please read our blog moderation guidelines. A first name or pseudonym is required and will be displayed with your comment. Your email address is also required, but will be kept private. (Please note that we use gravatars here, which are tied to your email address.) A website/blog/twitter address is optional.

Post a Comment: