We all know that it's not good to be insecure. We hear scornful remarks about insecure people in the dating world, we see how insecure people fail to realize their potential at work, and those of us who have felt insecure ourselves know that it also makes for a tense, melancholy emotional life.
However, insecurities can seem overwhelming – we may be scared to look at them, and fearful that we'll never change.
That's why it's so important to have something lead you through the process.
In this guide to overcoming the key starting signs of insecurity, we'll begin by defining the concept and examining how it develops.
We'll then go through six key signs of insecurity, and consider how you can identify them in yourself.
If these signs sound familiar, don't worry – we'll also offer four powerful strategies for moving forward.
Finally, we'll close by looking at ways to tap into your subconscious and change the underlying beliefs and feelings that drive insecurity.
So, what is insecurity? In a nutshell, it is a sense of not being good enough. Insecurity may be general, causing you to doubt that you are deserving of love.
Alternatively, insecurity can be case-specific – you might feel confident about your intellect but insecure about your body, or you might think you're great at your job but lack confidence in social situations.
Crucially, insecurity also holds you back. The examples of insecurity listed above would all hold people back from being their best selves, and from truly enjoying life.
Where does this warped sense of self come from? Everyone has a different story, but insecurities commonly originate in early life – in experiences with caregivers, in school, or in our first relationships.
When our minds and self-concepts are especially vulnerable, we can assume all negative judgments are true. In this way, the words of a school bully may live on in us forever, keeping us stuck and small.
None of us enjoy perfect self-confidence, so how do you know when you're insecure enough that it's likely having a negative impact on your life?
Look out for these six major signs of insecurity.
Body language communicates more than our words do, giving others clues to our feelings and intentions. Eye contact facilitates understanding and helps people connect with each other.
However, if you're insecure, even just making eye contact for a few seconds can cause you to feel profoundly uncomfortable.
You may find yourself making up excuses to avoid eye contact, such as sitting next to others instead of across from them or fidgeting with something on your lap.
Why do insecure people find it so hard to hold eye contact? Firstly, you might be afraid to let others see the real you – experts estimate that we can communicate as many as 50 distinct mental states through our eyes alone.
Secondly, you may be nervous about seeing other people's reactions – because what if you pick up negative feelings about yourself?
Another one of the signs of insecurity is one that can easily be mistaken for overconfidence – defensiveness. This presents as stubbornness and as an aggressive instance of winning arguments.
You may fight to the death over the smallest issues and be especially defensive if someone tries to see past your facade to what you really feel and think.
This can look arrogant because it's easy to assume that only an excess of confidence would make someone so dogmatic. However, the truth is that such defensiveness is all about the fear we feel when our core beliefs are attacked.
We feel like our very nature is being criticized, and we can become frightened that we'll discover ourselves to be a failure.
A more obvious one of the signs of insecurity is an intense need for reassurance.
When you're in a romantic relationship, this can manifest in sending constant messages or calling up to hundreds of times a day, just to find out what the other person is doing and to check they still care about you.
In extreme cases, this can extend to checking up on partners out of a fear that they're unfaithful.
Deeply insecure people may feel an urge to read their partners' email or phone or even begin showing up in places to “catch them out.”
Even if you're single, this need for reassurance can show up in friendships or at work. You might need to hear that your friends still like you, that your boss still values you, and so on.
Silence can give us space to reflect on what's happening inside us.
For example, therapists make deliberate use of silence in some sessions, and people who are close to each other may enjoy long periods of companionable silence.
In contrast, if you're insecure, you probably feel like you're coming out in hives whenever you have to endure a three-second silence.
This can lead you to talk too much – about what's happening, about the weather, and even about yourself.
This is another way in which insecure can be misidentified as arrogant due to the faulty assumption that talking a lot about yourself means that you love yourself!
Why is silence so painful? Often, it makes insecure people painfully aware of themselves, increasing anxiety. You may also think you're under pressure to be interesting or funny at all times.
Your body language can also help you figure out how insecure you are. In particular, insecure people tend to nod constantly, indicating agreement even when they don't feel it.
This is usually all about a desire to be liked – you want others to think you're entirely on board with whatever they're saying, and you want them to feel like you're listening to them.
In truth, failing to challenge those you care about can keep the relationship shallow, denying both parties chances for growth.
Other body language habits that indicate insecurity includes moving your hands a lot, jiggling your knee up and down, and chewing your fingers.
Basically, if you can't sit still when you're in public, you're probably dealing with some pretty serious anxiety about something.
Finally, since insecurity is deeply uncomfortable, it's natural that you would look for ways to soothe yourself.
This may often manifest inhabits, such as choosing a particular chair every time you're in a room or hugging a pillow to hide your body.
Maybe you have a ritual you need to perform before you go out, or perhaps you feel like you need to wear loose or dark clothes, so you're unobtrusive.
Experts call these types of behaviors “closing the windows.”
As well as helping you feel better due to the familiarity of habits, closing the window can also reassure you that people won't judge you.
You use all your energy to distract attention away from yourself and ensure that those looking at you can't actually see anything real.
Now that you know how to spot signs of insecurity in yourself let's look at building confidence.
These four techniques will help you build self-esteem and put yourself forward.
The first step toward battling insecurity is to challenge your negative thoughts about yourself.
You likely have a critical inner voice that constantly tells you how you're not good enough – you're not smart, you're not attractive, and no one really wants to be around you.
Start noticing when you do this. Perhaps you might write down the thoughts that occur to you. Then, write or say something that stands in opposition to your negative thought.
The critical belief “Everyone will be laughing when I give the presentation” can turn into the affirming statement, “I am prepared for this presentation and will do the best job I can.”
When thinking about how you should talk to yourself, focus on the voice you'd use speaking to someone you love. Would you say these things to your friends – or even think them?
If not, don't say them to yourself. Learn, over time, to offer yourself empathy and compassion.
Several psychology studies show that we give the negative more weight than the positive.
It takes several good things to balance out just one bad thing in our eyes, and beliefs about ourselves are no exception.
To combat the negativity's power in and around you, take a concentrated effort to focus on the good.
A few exercises you might try include:
An especially effective tactic is keeping a positivity jar. Keep writing down positive things about yourself, fold them, and put them in a jar.
When you need a confidence boost or are struggling, open up as many pieces as you need to feel better.
As noted above, changing your mindset and perspective is crucial when you're working to overcome insecurity.
Here, you can draw on some of the techniques used by the Law of Attraction, who believe that like attracts like – in other words, if we give out goodness and joy, that's what we get in return.
In particular, try reciting daily affirmations. These are statements that you say to yourself, ideally into the mirror. They should focus on reasons to feel good about themselves. Some examples include the following (though do feel free to amend any of these as you wish):
Finally, insecurity breeds codependency. We can easily find ourselves in unhealthy relationships, and we'll often hand our agency to other people.
In other words, we don't trust ourselves, so we outsource decisions – and sometimes even beliefs – to a partner, colleague, or friend.
However, this prevents you from ever building true confidence in yourself, as you never see good reasons to believe in your own power.
To escape this pattern of living, commit to doing more things yourself.
This is something to build up to overtime, as it can feel jarring at first.
Pick a couple of things to take control of this week and add more as the weeks pass.
You might begin just by choosing your own outfit without input or by presenting something at work without asking for comments.
In time, you'll see that you can do a great job without leaning on anyone else.
Hopefully, you now understand your own insecurities a bit better, and you feel equipped to work on becoming more confident.
However, this is a challenging endeavor, and in many cases, we feel like we need a bit of extra help. This is where self-hypnosis comes in, helping you to rewrite the limiting beliefs and negative emotions that are holding you back.
This process can get to some of our deepest memories of feeling judged and criticized, helping us to create a new narrative where we are proud of ourselves and believe we can succeed in all we do.
Our self-confidence hypnosis program leads you into a deeply relaxed state where you become more receptive to positive suggestions that can transform the way you see yourself.
If you want to feel good about yourself and ready to take on the world, why not try it today? There is little to lose and everything to gain.