Overcoming Insecurity: Complete Guide

 

Overcoming Insecurity. Insecurity, we all have insecurities, it’s natural. But sometimes our insecurities paralyze us and sabotages our personal growth and progress. How do we overcome insecurity? What are the signs and symptoms we need to look out for overcoming insecurity? What are the causes? Discover all this and much more in this article.

overcoming insecurity
Overcoming Insecurity

Overcoming Insecurity: What is emotional insecurity?

Emotional insecurity, or insecurity in oneself, is a feeling of anxiety or nervousness caused by the perception of not being valuable, loved, or good enough, especially compared to another person.

Being emotionally insecure means constantly worrying about not being good enough. Lack of confidence, low self-esteem and all kinds of doubts about oneself can trigger many psychological problems such as impostor’s syndrome, anxiety, depression, etc. It is also a characteristic of personality disorders such as borderline disorder.

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The opposite of emotional insecurity is emotional security. Emotional security is the ability by which a person is in control over their emotional state. They are psychologically resilient. Dr. William E. Blitz was the first to develop a theory on emotional security. According to him, safety is a state of mind in which the individual accepts the consequences of their behavior. This meant that all aspects of behavior, in all areas of life, are interpreted in terms of safety.

Emotional security is very much related to self-esteem, self-efficacy, self-acceptance.

Overcoming Insecurity: Signs and Symptoms

1. Defensive attitude

A person who feels threatened or pressured will act defensively. However, this is a natural reaction and it does not mean we are emotionally insecure.

Nonetheless, the reason why a person behaves defensively is that their emotions are probably related to their identity or self-esteem. There is an impairment in managing emotions and the full-on expression of some emotions frighten us. When we are afraid, we can react by fighting or running away from that threat, somewhat like a flight-fight response.

Emotional insecurity is identified when a person responds defensively without listening or accepting differences in point of view because they feel that their self-esteem and identity are shaken.

2. Redirect the blame

Typically, emotionally insecure people attribute guilt or mistakes to factors other than themselves. They do this in order to protect themselves from possible damage to their self-esteem. Acknowledging mistakes can sometimes be the key to overcoming insecurity.

3. Comparing Yourself

Comparisons are very common in our world. Due to social networks, people are constantly comparing eachother with public and non-public figures. However, manyHowever, what we see is not real life, it is the plot they want to share. But we never know what might be behind it.

Each one of us has a personal journey, which is nothing like that of our friends, neighbors, etc. The same way we cannot compare a dolphin with a horse because they are completely different, it doesn’t make sense to compare each other. Especially when it is based on comparing our difficulties with people’s successes. It’s a comparison that we will lose for sure.

4. Invalidating others and ourselves

Invalidation is about belittling or criticizing another person or ourselves for feeling the way we feel. Often insecure people have been invalidated by someone close to them, and have believed it to, so that they become invalidated themselves.

It is a very subtle form of self-abuse, and can be difficult to identify. It can be expressed through phrases or thoughts such as: “You’re being too sensitive”, “It’s no big deal”, etc.

5. Jealousy

Jealousy is a sign of emotional insecurity, whether it’s jealousy towards your partner, friends, siblings, etc. Jealousy towards your partner can seriously affect the relationship and is a risk factor for partner abuse.

6. Dependence

Dependence on others is also a sign of insecurity. If you cannot do anything without consulting your parents, your partner, your friends, if you need their constant validation means that you do not consider your own opinions as valid and acceptable.

7. Low self-confidence

As we have mentioned, low self-efficacy or low self-confidence is very much related to emotional insecurity. An insecure person is likely to believe that he or she is not good enough to perform certain tasks. Sometimes, one way to handle this unpleasant feeling is to compensate with a dominant and even abusive attitude.

Overcoming insecurity: Causes

inseguridad
¿Cuáles son las causas de la inseguridad?

There is no specific cause for insecurity, it will be different for each person. Both past experiences and an innate tendency to have confidence in oneself have an influence on how we look at life.

The experience

We are not born with insecurities. They usually appear as we grow and receive information from the environment and interact with others.

Our experiences leave marks behind. That footprint can be encouraging and supportive and can sometimes be harmful, affecting our emotional well-being.

Messages we receive from our loved ones are very important in developing a sense of identity. Experiences of teasing or bullying can undermine our safety, as can parenting style.

If a child is overly flattered, he will grow up depending on other’s validation and ignoring their own. This is visible when the person does things for others, and not themselves.

Negligent and overprotective parents will harm the child’s safety. A parent who does not take care of the child’s needs will encourage the child to internalize the message that they are not worthy of being loved. An overprotective parent sends the message that the child is not able to do things for themself, that they need constant help.

For our children to grow up confident, they need to perceive that they are loved for who they are, not for what they do or what they accomplish. They need to be treated with acceptance and compassion, not with criticism and hostility.

Internal Dialogue

Our internal dialogue acts both as a cause and a consequence of insecurity, and serves to perpetuate our feelings of self-doubt.

A negative and critical inner voice is often the cause of internalizing messages we have received in the past during our lifetime. Some of the most common messages are:

  • You’re stupid
  • You’re not attractive.
  • You’re a failure
  • You’re not doing anything right.
  • No one is going to love you.
  • You’re fat
  • You’re such a loser.
  • You’re never going to make friends.
  • You’re never going to get X
  • Why should I try?

Like an evil coach, this voice tends to get louder as you get closer to your goals. We often react to these thoughts before we realize we have them, so if we don’t start to become more aware of them they will take over our lives.

Overcoming Insecurity
Overcoming Insecurity

Overcoming insecurity at work

Insecurity can affect us in many areas of our lives. You can be very secure in your work, however not in your love life. Most of us at some point have these thoughts of self-sabotage towards ourselves or our professional career. Some examples are:

  • You don’t know what you’re doing.
  • Who do you think you are? You’ll never succeed
  • You can’t take that much pressure.
  • You’re not gonna get it all done.
  • You better make it perfect or you’ll get fired.
  • No one’s gonna hire you.
  • When are you gonna get a real job?

How does job insecurity influence us?

How can we overcome insecurity with an unstable job? According to research, job insecurity has a more negative impact on health than job loss, especially for men.

Employees who fear losing their jobs enter a “proactive phase” where they are aware that their position is threatened but have no further information.

Job insecurity leads to stress, increased alcohol and tobacco use and increased medical appointments. Prolonged job insecurity can also lead to cardiovascular problems and even cancer.

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Overcoming insecurity within Couples

Whether you’re single, have casual relationships, or are in a long-term relationship, there are many ways your inner critical voice can sabotage our love life. Relationships can arouse many insecurities and emotions that we do not expect. Fear of intimacy and being vulnerable can hinder overcoming insecurity.

Listening to that negative inner voice can damage our relationships with others. It can cause us to feel desperate towards the partner or to try to walk away when things get serious. It can intensify feelings of jealousy and possessiveness, or leave us feeling rejected and worthless. Some internally critic phrases may be:

  • You’re not gonna find someone else who understands you.
  • Don’t get too attached.
  • They are too good for you
  • Keep pleasing them you have to keep them interested
  • When they find out how you really are they’ll leave.
  • You’re going to get hurt

Overcoming Insecurity

Once we are aware of our insecurities, we can begin to challenge them.

In the following video, you will discover more about how overcoming insecurity is important and how it relates to our inner critical voices.

Overcoming insecurity: Write down your critical thoughts

This may be difficult at first, but it is very important to do this to be aware of what situations trigger them and what they tell us. This way we can start handling them. Once we have managed to write some, instead of writing them in the first person, change them to the second person. Instead of writing “I’m not a good person”, write “You’re not a good person”. This will help us to distance ourselves from these attacks, seeing them as an external enemy.

Overcoming insecurity: Reflect on them

Think and reflect on your reactions to these negative thoughts. Do they remind you of someone or something from your past? Discovering how these thoughts have formed can help us to distance ourselves from them, feel compassion and reject these attitudes.

Overcoming insecurity: Question your thoughts

This step is often difficult because it is hard to turn against those beliefs and insecurities that we have held for so long. Respond to these self-attacks by expressing your real point of view. It can be very useful to write down rational and realistic statements about who you are.

Overcoming insecurity: How do these thoughts influence your life?

Reflect on how these negative thoughts affect you at work, with your partner, as a parent, in your personal goals and personal growth, etc. What triggers your insecurity? What areas are you most affected by insecurity?

Overcoming insecurity: Change those thoughts

The final step is to make a plan to change those thoughts. If your insecurities are preventing you from doing things you want, then its time to start pushing against these. Ignore those thoughts. At the beginning it won’t be easy but it will get better with practice.

Mindfulness meditation can be useful to see those thoughts as something more external to us, as something with which we do not fully identify and as something that comes and goes. These thoughts are not a reflection of our reality or who you are. Don’t believe them.

Once you identify them, replace them with something you would tell your best friend if they had those thoughts. Treat yourself with compassion.

Overcoming insecurity: Children

The most severe emotional insecurities in children are caused by some kind of attachment disorder. These disorders form in childhood and can have serious effects on children’s well-being, behaviour, and social relationships.

Overcoming insecurity
Overcoming insecurity

Attachment problems occur when the child’s primary caregiver fails to meet the child’s emotional needs, and/or parental hostility is shown towards the child.

If a child develops an attachment problem, this does not necessarily mean that the caregiver has not cared for the child properly, it simply means that certain needs have not been met as needed. This is especially true when the child has been under great stress very early in life, such as in neonatal units, for example.

However, this does not mean that insecure attachment cannot be repaired. It is possible to modify the type of attachment with time and patience.

To heal attachment, you need to provide an environment and a secure relationship where you feel that you are loved for what you are and not for what you do or what you accomplish.

Alejandra is a clinical and health psychologist. She is a child specialist with a diploma in evaluation and intervention in autism. She has worked in different schools with young children and private practice for over 6 years. She is interested in early childhood intervention, emotional intelligence, and attachment styles. As a brain and human behavior enthusiast, she is more than happy to answer your questions and share her experience.