All of us experience insecurity from time to time. The type and degree of insecurity one experiences vary among us because we are individuals with personal backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, and emotions as unique as our fingerprints.
Understanding our insecurities is the best way to overcome them.
Sometimes feeling deeply insecure about something, whether it’s a relationship, our job, our body image, or our social life, can prevent us from taking risks and enjoying life.
Even though it’s normal to feel insecure sometimes, you don’t have to let your insecurities stop you from living your best life.
Below we’ll take a look at different types of common insecurities. Later we’ll focus on relationship insecurity, one of the most common types, and how to help yourself overcome it.
Types of insecurities
Personal insecurities can take on many forms. Here are some of them:
1. Relationship insecurity
Relationship insecurity is one of the most common types. It’s characterized by an unwillingness or reluctance to allow another person into one’s heart.
Vulnerability feels scary and even dangerous, so the person either clings to their partner or neglects them. Both approaches stem from insecure attachment, an attachment style learned in childhood that persists into adulthood until resolved.
Relationship insecurities often come from a combination of other types of insecurity, which we’ll explore below.
For example, if you experience body image insecurity, you may worry that your partner also does not like how your body looks. As such, you may feel insecure in the relationship because you fear that your partner will prefer to be with someone else, someone who looks different or ‘better.’
2. Physical insecurity
Physical insecurity, also known as body image insecurity, or negative body image, is a sense of insecurity based on your physical appearance.
Those with body image insecurity constantly compare how they look to others. Often, the focus is on one or a couple of major perceived flaws, such as the shape of their nose, level of body fat, or face shape.
Body insecurity can affect your relationships because you find it hard to understand how the other person sees you in a positive way. When they tell you you’re beautiful or that they like certain parts of your body, it’s hard to believe them.
Your insecurity and anxiety may make you react negatively to compliments, which can negatively affect the relationship.
3. Financial insecurity
Financial insecurity refers to a feeling of dread or anxiety about your finances. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re broke, though being broke may make you financially insecure.
One experiences financial insecurity when their bank statement doesn’t align with the financial goals they have for themselves, and they don’t believe that things will get better soon.
We often set financial goals for ourselves to which we tie a sense of self-worth. When we don’t meet those goals, our understanding of self-worth also takes a hit.
4. Emotional insecurity
Emotional insecurity is one of the leading causes of relationship breakdown. When you feel emotionally insecure, you experience a sense of not being good or worthy enough to be loved.
Your self-esteem is low, and you struggle to understand how your partner loves you. You may not believe them when they tell you they love you and even come to think that they’re lying or have some hidden agenda.
Emotional insecurity often stems from childhood experiences where a parent was neglectful or overly critical.
Many potential causes of emotional insecurity stem from childhood, and most of us experience this type of insecurity at some point in our lives.
5. Professional insecurity
Everybody wants to live with a sense of purpose. Equally, we want to be recognized and validated for our contributions.
Professional insecurity, or job insecurity, can arise when you don’t feel that your job gives you purpose or feel like your work isn’t meaningful enough. This can manifest in your relationship when you notice how passionate and connected your partner is to their work.
6. Social insecurity
Social insecurity manifests as the belief that you don’t have the social support or level of friendship you feel you need and struggle to attain it.
It’s a lack of confidence in your social skills and the belief that others won’t like you. Social insecurity co-occurs with social anxiety and can significantly hinder a healthy relationship and life in general.
What causes insecurity?
As mentioned earlier, most of our insecurities stem from our childhood experiences.
No parent is perfect, and it’s normal for a child to grow up with at least some insecurities.
If you’ve ever met an adult who is completely secure in themselves, then you’re probably not seeing the bigger picture, the side of that person that they’re not showing.
The problem lies more in how we deal with those insecurities rather than the insecurities themselves.
Children who receive loving support when going through difficult experiences are more likely to be able to regulate themselves as adults. In contrast, children without adequate support during tough times struggle with self-regulation and self-soothing in adulthood.
Beyond childhood experiences, understand that our society is not designed to help people feel secure.
Consider the absurd beauty standards based on magazines, movies, and television. It’s a shame that it’s not even surprising that a person, regardless of gender, may feel insecure when they compare their looks to those hyper-edited images we see in the media.
Similarly, our society hypes productivity.
Unless we hustle and grind 24/7, we tend to feel bad about our productivity levels and genuine need for rest.
To live authentically and without insecurity in today’s world is no easy feat, so don’t feel bad if you’re not a completely secure person right now. Don’t expect yourself to be perfect, and understand that your work on yourself is an ongoing life project, not something to be fixed and never considered again.
How to not be insecure in a relationship
When it comes to romantic relationships, insecurities become amplified.
It’s easier to avoid or ignore our insecurities when alone, but when faced with the vulnerability that comes with the presence of another person, it’s hard to hide from oneself.
In relationships, all types of insecurities can rise to the surface. Concerns about sex, money, and emotional attachment can crop up and affect the relationship quality unless both partners can approach the issue mindfully and compassionately.
1. Get to know your insecurities
It’s not easy to drop your insecurities just like that, but overcoming them with practice and patience is possible. The first step is to get to know your insecurities.
Start by journaling or speaking to a trusted friend about your experience. Sharing our insecurities can feel scary, but with a trusted friend’s love and compassion, you can at least get your insecurities off your chest.
Keep a journal to help you better understand your insecurities and what triggers them. Use your journal to reflect on your feelings and explore what you think causes them.
The more self-awareness you can bring to your feelings, the more power you gain over them.
2. Practice healthy communication
Good communication is the foundation of any healthy relationship.
As scary as it seems, it’s essential to communicate with your partner about how you feel. Do not make your insecurity a problem for your partner to fix, but ask them to listen to you and support you.
If they’re a good partner, they will be happy to listen and help in whatever way they can. If they don’t want to hear and frequently invalidate your feelings, consider that they may not be the best partner for you in the first place.
3. Cultivate self-love
Self-love is a prerequisite for a healthy relationship with others. Being comfortable in your own skin is a start.
Even though your insecurities may make you feel unworthy or unlovable, remember that you are inherently worthy. You naturally belong here, and your flaws and imperfections are a normal part of being human.
As much as you can, cultivate self-love. That means prioritizing your needs, learning how to communicate honestly to yourself and others, and doing things that make you feel good about yourself.
Instead of spending hours or days at a time wallowing in your perceived sense of unworthiness, turn your attention to your passions and hobbies.
What makes you feel alive? What ignites a spark in your soul? Identify these things and follow them ruthlessly.
The more time you spend doing things that make you feel good about yourself, whether exercising, hanging out with friends, painting, singing, or dancing, the more connected you will feel to your authentic self and apply that self-love to your everyday life.
Further, authenticity leads to greater self confidence, which ultimately improves your relationships.
4. Seek professional support
Though we all experience insecurity from time to time, persistent feelings of insecurity can drastically deteriorate your mental health. Not feeling good enough can lead to mental health issues when combined with stress.
Research shows that persistent stress is toxic to your mental and physical health, so it’s essential to manage it.
If you find that your insecurities are getting in your life, causing feelings of low self-esteem, self-doubt, and negative self-talk, you must seek support. A licensed therapist, counselor, or other mental health professionals can offer a safe space for you to open up about your feelings and support you in exploring them.
Therapeutic modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are proven to help people explore, understand, and effectively manage their insecurities in a way that prevents them from taking over their lives.
Feeling insecure is normal, so having these feelings is not a sign of something inherently wrong in your life. Still, your insecurities carry messages, and it’s wise to heed them.
For example, if you feel insecure about your finances, the message is to get secure by doing what you need. That may mean working differently or shifting your entire perspective on what financial security looks like.
If you feel insecure about your body image, that insecurity is an invitation to work on those feelings. It may also involve exercise, diet, and a shift in perspective about what ‘health’ and beauty mean.
If you take anything away from this article, let it be that you are bigger than your insecurities. Your personal insecurity does not define who you are.
The fact that you can recognize them means that your awareness is bigger. Cultivate that awareness and approach your insecurities from that place.
Learn to identify with the witness, the one who sees the insecurities, not the insecurities themselves.
Understand that overcoming your insecurities will take practice and patience. Still, once you apply those and seek support, you can overcome them and live the life you want.