Feeling insecure may mean experiencing a sense of inadequacy and signs of anxiety when it comes to performing or interacting with others.
Most people have felt insecure at some point in their lives. You might think that you just can’t measure up or doubt yourself or your abilities.
These signs of insecurity can turn into negative actions which can prevent you from connecting with others. You might notice you’re also overly critical of others or worry about the state of your relationships.
But it’s possible to stop feeling insecure and improve your self-esteem and relationships.
The American Psychological Association describes insecurity as a feeling of inadequacy and the inability to cope.
People feeling insecure lack confidence and have anxiety about goals and relationships — and their ability to be successful in them.
Feeling insecure fills your mind with self-doubt which may then lead to negative thinking or a negative outlook on life.
There are many reasons why someone may experience insecurity. They may:
- have experienced one or more traumatic events
- lack support at home
- have been judged in childhood primarily on achievements, rather than values
- have anxiety or depression, which involve symptoms like worthlessness and insecurity
- work in an office that doesn’t promote psychological safety
- have absorbed societal messages about how you should be acting and aren’t (especially relevant for women and minorities)
- have an insecure attachment style
- be living with social anxiety symptoms
- have a cluster C personality disorder
- be in a relationship with an abusive or controlling partner
Dr. Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, a certified psychiatrist, says the following are common signs of insecurity:
- low self-esteem
- desire to be alone
- perfectionism or never being satisfied with yourself
- anxiety and excessive worrying
- dulled emotions
In other people
- being overly critical of others
- appearing awkward around other people
- taking jokes too seriously or in a negative way
- lacking emotional and social connection with others
- having high levels of anxiety
- making unhealthy comparisons to others
If you think you may be dealing with strong feelings of insecurity, there are many things you can do to overcome them.
If feeling insecure is impacting your relationships and the way you live your life, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. They can help you explore the root cause of your insecurity and develop coping skills.
Like anything in life that’s challenging, learning self-respect and self-acceptance takes patience and time. As long as you’re willing to put in the effort, you can overcome your insecurities.
Here are a few tips to help you cope and feel more secure:
1. Try to embrace your differences
“If you feel awkward, accept it as a part of you,” says Gonzalez-Berrios. “Remember that people are watching your inner goodness, and not how you look or showcase outwardly.”
You may even start to appreciate your quirks. Try to find ways to embrace what makes you feel uncomfortable, such as taking risks and trying new things.
2. Consider self-compassion
When you’re feeling insecure you may engage in negative self-talk, which can have an impact on your mental health. Gonzalez-Berrios suggests being kind to yourself and letting your inner strength come out slowly.
Working through insecurity is a vulnerable experience, so you may want to take things slow and praise yourself for your efforts.
Try to challenge your negative self-talk by looking at the facts and whether what you’re saying to yourself is actually true.
Self-compassion goes a long way.
3. Try to care for your physical health
Taking care of your physical health can help improve the way you see yourself.
4. Consider developing your social skills
Sometimes feeling insecure is linked to not knowing how to interact with other people. But you can develop people skills. The more socially adept you are, the more secure you’ll feel with yourself when you’re around others.
Gonzalez-Berrios suggests developing skills like holding eye contact and verbal communication. She says to note your body language when you’re around others and try to bring a positive attitude to social interactions.
Remember, it will take some practice to feel more confident and comfortable around others in social situations. Try to be patient and have compassion for yourself and how hard you are working to overcome your insecurity.
5. Seeking support from a therapist can make a difference
While doing things like learning to accept your differences and having self-compassion can be helpful, sometimes you need perspective and support from an outside source.
A therapist can give you insights into your challenges and help you digest your feelings of inadequacy and find their source. Often, facing the root of the problem is the most effective way to deal with feeling insecure.
Feeling insecure may involve a sense of not being enough or not having the skills needed to perform in some aspects of life. Most people feel insecure from time to time, but when insecurity starts to interfere with your daily life, you may want to get to the root causes.
Insecurity may come from your attachment style, a personality disorder, living with anxiety, or not having emotional support.
Working with a mental health professional can help as well as working on embracing your differences and developing specific skills like non-verbal and verbal communication.