If you sometimes feel insecure like you are not good enough, not talented enough, not smart enough, that is completely normal. Having insecurities does not make you any less of a person. It is part of what makes you a human being. Still, if you consider yourself an insecure person, the good news is that you do not always have to feel that way.
There are simple yet profound tools and techniques you can apply to your thought process that can shift your perspective—from insecurity, fear, judgment, and low self-esteem to self-acceptance, self-compassion, self-confidence, and inherent worth and belonging.
This article about how to stop being insecure will help you better understand insecurity and what causes it. Also, this article will offer some helpful tips and advice on how to approach your feelings of insecurity healthily and adaptively so you can move on, rather than pushing yourself down and having to deal with them again later in a negative cycle.
What Are Insecurities?
Insecurities are deeply held thoughts and beliefs about ourselves, our worth, our abilities, or our looks that are negative and make us feel less than we are. We all get them, but some of us are more sensitive than others.
Some of us believe in our own insecurities to the point that it stops us from living a full life. Instead of immersing ourselves in the wonders of life, we are just trying to survive by coping with our insecurities as much as possible. The problem is that many of our ways of coping are unhelpful and can even be harmful.
Examples of Insecurities
- Someone insecure about their looks might socially withdraw because they do not want others to judge them.
- Some workers who are insecure about their skills and knowledge might not speak up and make their voices heard when working on a team project.
- Some students doubt their understanding of a topic and choose not to raise their hands and ask questions because they fear possible embarrassment.
All of these are avoidance behaviors, and they may offer short-term relief rather than anxiety, stress, and fear of insecurity, but in the long-term, they jeopardize the person’s greater good. Speaking up in a team project may improve your workplace confidence and improve workplace interaction.
Asking questions in class might be embarrassing at first, but you will be glad you asked those questions when exam time comes. Someone insecure about their looks might feel awkward or nervous at a party at first, but it might turn out to be a fun and enjoyable experience, and they will be glad they did not skip the party.
Why Am I So Insecure?
The way we have been taught to think and behave, especially in childhood, profoundly affects our perceptions and how we relate to the world in daily life. For example, some children who always received consistent care and affection from their caregivers and were encouraged to explore their passions and interests freely with loving support will likely feel curious and safe in themselves and the world around them as an adult.
Alternatively, some children whose care was inconsistent and who were discouraged from authentic play and self-expression may not feel that way at all. Instead, the latter might feel unsafe and even unworthy in the world as an adult.
Stress and Change
Just because your parents raised you with consistent care does not mean you will never feel insecure, and vice versa. Other impactful experiences in childhood and adolescence that can create insecurity include bullying and adversity. Sometimes it is consistent stress, unclear boundaries in childhood, or simply a series of challenging life events and major change.
So, a lot of the work involved in overcoming insecurity is less about tackling the insecurity directly and more about challenging the unhelpful values and beliefs we hold about ourselves and the world around us that caused the insecurity in the first place.
How to Stop Being Insecure and Finally Overcome Insecurity
One of the most challenging aspects of insecurity is the deep desire to avoid or escape the feeling. We tend to label feelings and emotions as ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ and insecurity is no different. We feel it and almost immediately judge it as ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ and try to avoid or deny it as much as possible.
Yet, any feeling denied and unprocessed is bound to return. Then, on its return, insecurity can be overwhelming because sooner or later, we realize that we cannot escape it through denial or avoidance. Still, that does not mean we cannot overcome it.
Accept Your Feelings
Instead of perpetuating it through judgment, denial, or avoidance, we can help ourselves eventually overcome insecurity by first acknowledging and accepting it. That does not mean giving up and believing what our equities are telling us—it means accepting that these insecurities are within us and that they will not get better by avoiding them.
You can get better at accepting your feelings, including insecurities that sometimes trigger feelings of anger, jealousy, and sadness, by practicing mindful self-awareness. Mindfulness is the art of bringing attention to one’s thoughts and behaviors without judgment or immediate reaction. It is about accepting thoughts, not trying to deny the ‘bad’ ones or not having any in the first place.
Challenge Negative Self-Beliefs
After acceptance, the next step is to understand that the way you feel (or the way your insecurities make you feel) may not be an accurate reflection of reality. Of course, your feelings are your own and are entirely valid, but there is much insight and freedom to be gained by investigating the disparities between your perception and reality. As mentioned, early childhood and even adolescent experiences can shape us and how we see the world to the point that they can make us believe that we do not belong anywhere and are inherently unworthy.
Keep a Journal
You can challenge the negative beliefs in your head as they come up, but keeping a journal might be more effective and helpful. Try to set aside 10- 15 minutes a week (or more if you like) to write down your negative thoughts and beliefs about yourself and the world. Also, do not stop there. Connect the dots by writing how that belief influences your thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
This practice is a form of self-administered cognitive behavioral therapy and can go a long way in helping you discover beliefs and values you hold that perpetuate your insecurity. This journal is a safe space for you to explore your insecurities, your inner voice, and your self-doubt, as well as your strengths and positive traits and characteristics. You do not need to show or tell anyone what you are writing about. Just make sure to write consistently and be as honest and transparent with yourself as possible.
Re-Learn Worth and Belonging
The important thing to remember is that the same mechanism by which we learn unworthiness is how we learn connection and belonging. A lot of it has to do with the neural pathways that we form and strengthen through repetition. For example, if you believe that you are bound to fail because you are not talented enough, then when you do fail, that experience will affirm your beliefs. However, by shifting your thoughts away from expected failure to openness, trying your best, and learning from mistakes, you will see the opportunity to learn and grow rather than criticizing and berating yourself.
One effective way of shifting our self-attitude away from negativity and towards loving care and positive regard is to practice self-compassion. Self-compassion is the act of treating yourself as your best friend by offering yourself unconditional love and support in times of need and times of abundance and choosing not to berate yourself with harsh criticism and self-loathing just because you made a mistake.
Connect with Good People
When you feel insecure, the company you choose to surround yourself with can make a big difference. The best people to spend time with when you feel insecure are those who have good intentions for you, which might be your family or some close trusted friends. It can also be a coworker you have nice conversations with at the office or a classmate you always talk to about deep topics while waiting for your next class.
Not everyone in your life will help you overcome your insecurities. Some might even exacerbate them, and it may take a long time for some to realize this. Also, just because someone is a family member or friend does not mean they are good for your emotional well-being. Part of developing emotional maturity and learning how to set boundaries in your life is understanding that you are entitled to set boundaries with absolutely anyone, including with your family, long-time friend, or otherwise.
Make a conscious effort to connect with people with whom you feel safe. If you are going through some relationship insecurities, try to reach out to a trusted friend or family member who knows what it is like to be in that situation. If you are experiencing doubts about your self-worth, reach out to someone who loves you and let them know how you feel.
Speak to a Therapist
It is always good to connect with those in our lives who have the best intentions for us. These people can offer much-needed support when we need it and remind us how much we are loved and supported. Still, everyone has their own life to live, and sometimes helping others through their issues can be demanding, especially when the boundaries are unclear. Instead of seeking counsel from friends and family, whose ability to help effectively may be limited, you may greatly benefit from speaking to a therapist.
Insecurities, though common, can indicate underlying mental health issues. Some of which may cause a risk to your physical health if left unresolved. Therapy can help you deal with various challenges, from relationship insecurities to low self-worth to anxiety and depression, so it is more than worth a try.