Insecurity, or a tendency to lack confidence or certainty in oneself, may be experienced by most people regarding some aspect of their lives. However, for many, feelings of insecurity can be resolved before they have a lasting, harmful impact. When one deals with generalized insecurity for a long period of time, however, the doubt and negative feelings experienced may have a significant effect on life.
What Is Insecurity?
A person experiencing high levels of insecurity may often experience a lack of confidence regarding many aspects of life. It may be difficult for that person to form lasting relationships or attend to daily tasks, due to a self-perception of helplessness or inadequacy. Insecurity often causes negative thoughts about one’s ability to fit in with peers, reach goals, or find acceptance and support. The condition often accompanies anxiety: Individuals who experience the feelings of fear, worry, and self-doubt that characterize anxiety may easily feel similarly helpless to meet the challenges of daily life. Thus, they may find it easier to resist dealing with stressful situations, feeling inadequately equipped to handle them.
Insecurity can also be seen with other conditions such as narcissism, schizophrenia, and borderline and paranoid personalities. Deep-seated feelings of anxiety and insecurity often characterize these conditions, although the individuals who have these conditions may not appear to be insecure. People with a narcissistic personality, for example, may boast about accomplishments and abilities, exhibit extreme arrogance, and clearly appear to believe in their own superiority. However, these traits often conceal deeply hidden feelings of insecurity and self-doubt.
People with borderline personality often experience insecurities, as well, especially insecurities pertaining to their own sense of identity. Individuals with this personality type may fear abandonment and doubt their own ability to form lasting relationships with other people and come to depend excessively on others as a result.
What Causes Insecurity?traumatic event, crisis such as divorce or bankruptcy, or a loss. It can also result from one’s environment, as unpredictability or upset in daily life can cause anxiety and insecurity about ordinary, routine events. People who have recurring insecurities may also have low self-esteem, experience body image issues, lack direction in life, or feel overlooked by others.
Insecurity also tends to surface in adults whose parents pushed them excessively in childhood, often due to their parents’ desire for success rather than their own, and in adults whose significant others drive them to excel, often to an unrealistic level, regardless of the individual’s own desires or goals.
The attachment bond, or a child’s first love relationship, formed with the primary caregiver, also plays a large role in the development of insecurities. An insecure attachment may result when the caregiver does not respond to the infant’s needs adequately. An infant may develop an insecure attachment from abuse, but also from simple isolation or loneliness.
Children with a parent who is inconsistent or self-absorbed may grow up unable to form lasting emotional connections and be anxious and fearful, not knowing what to expect from life just as they did not know what to expect from the parent. Studies have also found people who commit violence against their partners are more likely to have experienced an insecure attachment as a child.
Effects of Insecurity
Insecure individuals, in addition to struggling with the formation of healthy relationships, also may find it difficult to share emotions or be forthright about important aspects of daily life, such as those pertaining to work or school. An individual who is too anxious or insecure to speak up about abilities may never receive a promotion, which in turn may facilitate further insecurity due to a perceived lack of ability. Those who have difficulty forming relationships or meeting others because of chronic insecurity may become too shy or anxious to face anyone at all, which can lead to a distancing from people in general.
Coping With Insecurity
People who experience significant insecurities in daily life may attempt to overcome them by identifying the causes. For example, a man who dreads going to work because he feels he does not perform his daily tasks adequately may ask himself what led to that belief and attempt to identify ways in which he might become more positive and realistic about his own abilities.
Therapy might also help those individuals who experience significant insecurities. A therapist might help an individual identify strengths and focus on those rather than on
perceived failings. Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, such as talking through one’s insecurities or journaling about them, have also been shown to be effective in addressing insecurities.
- Buck, N. (2012, April 30). Explaining the relationship between insecure attachment and partner abuse: The role of personality characteristics. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22550146.
- Handling Insecurity. (2008, December 22). Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/14655-handling-insecurity/.
- Personality Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/personality-disorder.
- Segal, J., & Jaffe, J. (2015, February 1). Attachment and Adult Relationships: How the Attachment Bond Shapes Adult Relationships. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships/attachment-and-adult-relationships.htm.
Last Updated: 01-29-2016
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MudassirJuly 30th, 2017 at 6:57 AM
Anna GJanuary 11th, 2018 at 4:27 AM
Hi, I have been taking classes in this field, and I would like to learn more about these subjects. Thank you for your assistance.
LeeDecember 28th, 2018 at 1:15 AM
For years I have struggled with image issues. I’ve been called fat despite working out constantly. I can’t maintain significant relationships with males. I can’t seem to keep anyone that cares. I attempt to use my sexuality as a means of acceptance but they all realize that I’m just easy and use me and move on.
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