Insecurity about yourself or your relationship can cause you to feel a variety of uncomfortable emotions. You might experience jealousy, which may cause rifts in your relationship or bring up shame.
If you have an insecure attachment style or deal with personal insecurity, this may lead to feeling envious of others or unfairly comparing yourself or your life to others.
You don’t have to stay stuck in cycles of jealousy and insecurity, or live with shame. With a little effort, it’s possible to free yourself from insecurity.
Jealousy can be a sign of insecurity. Jealousy is a fear of losing something you already have, like a relationship or friendship.
People who deal with jealousy may often feel threatened by other people. You may also feel that you are in competition with others, even if you’re not.
Jealousy can stem from feelings of insecurity, especially if you have an insecure attachment style. One 2017 study found that attachment styles and jealousy are closely related.
According to this same study, insecurity and jealousy may also be associated with:
While jealousy can be a sign of insecurity, this isn’t always the case. A variety of situations can also cause insecurity. For example, criticism can lead to feelings of insecurity or inadequacy for some people.
Common signs of insecurity can include:
- feelings of inadequacy
- anxiety within relationships
- low self-esteem
- feeling unworthy
- lack of confidence
- striving for perfection
If you don’t feel confident in yourself or your relationships, this can lead to jealousy. People with insecure or anxious attachment styles may also experience jealousy in their relationships.
For example, you might view other people as a threat to your relationship, or worry excessively about your partner’s feelings for you.
Insecurity can also come from lack of communication or constant criticism from your partner in a relationship.
Usually, jealousy relates to people, while envy is often about things. Jealousy can be perceiving another person as a threat to you or your relationships. With envy, a person might wish they had something someone else has.
For example, you could become jealous if your mother confides in your sister instead of you, but you might become envious that your best friend has a nicer house than you.
Jealousy and envy can both become destructive if you don’t deal with the root of where they come from.
Jealousy can stem from shame. For some people, feeling shame — because you made a mistake or said something hurtful, for example — may trigger jealous feelings.
Most people experience shame at some point in life. However, shame can sometimes transform into more harmful emotions. Addressing shame can be essential to preventing more negative feelings like insecurity and jealousy.
Jealousy and envy can have negative effects on relationships. Sometimes, jealousy can signal a bigger problem, such as:
- lack of trust
- past traumatic experiences
- experiences with unfaithfulness, either in your current relationship or a past one
It can be challenging to build relationships when these factors are present. Understanding attachment styles and working through past relationship experiences and trauma can help overcome jealousy and envy in relationships.
For many people, the first step in overcoming insecurity and jealousy is becoming aware of those feelings.
Some jealousy can be common in relationships. However, jealousy can also be distressing and destructive to relationships. Being able to detect jealous thoughts and feelings may help you recognize their impact on your mental health and relationships.
Jealousy in relationships can often result from insecurity. If you frequently feel jealous in your relationship, it may be helpful to take a deep look at how you feel about yourself and what could help fulfill you.
Do what you love
Placing all your self-worth in your relationships may lead to feeling unfulfilled. Engaging in activities or hobbies you love may help you:
- improve self-esteem
- become more independent
- build confidence
Talk about it
Having a conversation with your partner about your feelings can be a powerful step in overcoming insecurity and jealousy. Addressing the problem directly can help alleviate feelings of insecurity and jealousy.
Staying calm and setting boundaries with trust can be crucial when addressing jealousy. Initiating relationship talks during cool, calm times — rather than directly after a heated or triggering situation — can be helpful.
Manage negative thoughts
Talking to a therapist about your feelings can help you understand where your thoughts are coming from and help you find a resolution. A therapist may also help you explore ways to boost your confidence or improve your self-esteem.
If you find yourself feeling trapped in a cycle of jealousy and insecurity, you are not alone. Everyone feels jealous and insecure occasionally, which can be a painful and distressing experience.
Sometimes, these feelings can stem from shame or a lack of trust. But how you address your emotions often makes all the difference in a healthy relationship — both with your partner and yourself.
Overcoming jealousy and insecurity is possible with self-awareness and effort. And remember that there are resources that help with dealing with complex emotions like envy and jealousy, including:
If you’re ready to seek support, visit Psych Central’s guide to finding mental health help.