Emotional insecurity or simply insecurity is a feeling of unease or nervousness that is triggered by perceiving oneself to be worthless, unloved or not good enough that they don’t measure up especially when compared to someone else.

Emotional insecurity is also mostly a big part of some mental disorders like borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. These types of mental disorders often result in low self-esteem and at times in too high self-esteem, which eventually manifests itself as arrogance or a sense of superiority.

And on top of that, being emotionally insecure, that is – constantly worrying about not being good enough, lacking confidence, and all kinds of self-doubt, can trigger depression and anxiety as well. An emotionally insecure person is pessimistic and sometimes antisocial. They also suffer from social anxiety, body dysmorphia and self-centeredness among other emotional states.

Most insecure people suffer from some degree of isolation. The greater the insecurity, the more isolated person will be. But before we dig deeper into knowing more about emotional insecurity, let’s get to know how it differs from emotional security.

Emotional security is the ability in which a person has a complete control over his emotional state. An emotionally secure person is the one whose mental and emotional health are free from any kind of distress, and are psychologically resilient.

Dr. William E. Blitz was the first person to develop a theory of emotional security. According to him, security is a state of mind in which one is willing to accept the consequences of one’s behavior; all aspects of an individual’s behavior in all areas of his life can be interpreted in terms of security. Unlike a person who is emotionally secured, an insecure person does not have control over his emotional state. They tend to be neurotic; and are generally selfish and egocentric.

Emotional Insecurity

So what causes insecurity?

The root of all insecurity is fear, but it’s generally influenced by your past experiences. Because as an infant, you didn’t come innately hardwired to think like you’re worthless or imperfect. But as you grew into adulthood, you received input from environment around you and the people you generally come in contact with.

Each time you interact with people, let’s say family friends, fellow students, co-workers, acquaintances, they leave you with some kind of imprint. That imprint can be supportive and encouraging, but sometimes it can be detrimental, which can negatively affect your mental well-being.

You may also come across people who are able to just shrug off negative experiences with you or whoever they come in contact with. They are the victims of their own insecurities, but they remain grounded in their sense of self and it doesn’t shake their self-esteem.

Some people find themselves deeply affected by negative interactions with other people and situations that may be difficult. And this can really take a toll sometimes on their sense of self-worth and their confidence.

When it comes to developing your sense of self perception and your sense about yourself and your competency, feedback or responses from your closed ones or loved ones are really important. However, if the information that you take in from their feedbacks is not positive or supportive as you’re learning to develop your sense of self, the roots of insecurity and self-doubt can begin to grow.

You know how destructive this negative type of self-perception can be. You begin to experience the world where you see yourself as incompetent and totally useless. And with each passing day, your sense of self-worth will begin to deteriorate, making you more and more vulnerable.

What are the traits seen commonly among people with emotional insecurity?

An insecure person is psychologically weak. He believes he has certain flaws and he is not as perfect as he should be. He starts compensating for those flaws or shortcomings by certain actions like bullying, aggressive behavior, conflicts, arrogance, jealousy and hatred. Many of us have self-doubts, but an insecure person will try to confirm his doubts by the way people treat him.

Let’s say a guy thinks he is unattractive and constantly worries that his wife will leave him for a good-looking guy. When he feels ignored by her, he concludes she is interested in another better looking guy than him. Now, he will try to compensate this by adopting abusive behavior towards her.

Also, most insecure people are selfish and self-centered. In a relationship, an insecure man will only be focused on his pleasures and desires. If his needs are not fulfilled by his partner, his insecurity will increase and will make it hard for his partner to survive the relationship.

Insecure people are defensive when someone points out their flaws and errors, because they simply can’t take criticism. They have controlling personalities, because they feel threatened by other people, they want to crush them. So they take out their frustrations on others.

Other signs of an insecure person include over-jealousy, being materialistic and too competitive. They just want others to be impressed by them. So they will do anything to make people believe that they’ve everything a successful and a perfect person should have.

Insecurity is not only dangerous for the person suffering from it, but also those around him. Insecure behavior can devastate relationships and ruin a person’s chances to have a happy and successful life. One should try to overcome his insecurities rather than hiding them.

Overcoming insecurities is not an easy task, because it is a complex mental issue with different reasons behind.  Just give these tips a try and see the changes they bring to your life.

  • First of all, you have to realize that you will get nothing by hiding your fear and insecurities, try to fight them.
  • Don’t try to be that ‘perfect image of yourself’ you have in mind. Just be yourself.
  • Don’t chase perfection, but improve yourself step by step.
  • Concentrate on your strength, not weakness.
  • Trust yourself.
  • Think positive. Identify your negative thoughts and get rid of them.
  • Don’t blame yourself for unfortunate events. Learn something from them.
  • Stop comparing yourself or what you have to others or what they have.
  • Focus on your aims and hope for the best.
  • Share your insecurities with people you are emotionally attached with. They will know how to help you once they understand you better.

Initiating the above mentioned tips requires practice. But in case you find difficulty doing that, here’s what you should do.

The first thing you should do is try to acknowledge your self-doubt, insecurity and fear when you feel them. If something comes up and it makes you feel afraid rather than calling it nervousness or anxiety, try to understand that it’s fear. Once you have acknowledged it, you can set a plan in place for some practical methods of dealing with it. Now take a moment to examine it and then ask yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, where you are on that spectrum. Take a look at how much fear or insecurity are actually experiencing.

The next thing you should do is ask yourself how insecurity or self-doubt or fear serves you. Do they keep you from taking risks or possibly being embarrassed? Have a look at that and examine the pros and cons of any behaviour. This is going to put you in a good place to be able to make healthy changes by acknowledging the whole picture.

The other side of examining thoughts that feeds self-doubt or insecurity is to begin to challenge those thoughts. Giving thoughts or feelings the power of fact can rob you of any sense of self-confidence or efficacy. In other words you become a victim of your thoughts and feelings which may have no basis in fact. So examining what’s going through your head, what’s going through your heart can help give you the tools to begin to dismantle faulty ways of thinking that have become unhealthy for you.

Now imagine how your life would have been if you were no longer held back by feelings of insecurity or fear or a low self-worth. Ask yourself “What would you be able to do that you don’t feel you can do now?” And then give one of those things a try.

As mentioned above, the root of all insecurity is fear. Realizing that is the first step to getting rid of insecurity. The next step in to dismantle your assumptions. You can probably create an entire scenario in your imagination but remember it’s in your imagination, it’s not happening in fact in real life. Also, no one knows yourself better than you; you know your strong and weak points.

Further readings and references:

[Image via DevianArt]