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Warning signs of insecurity and overcoming its grip

Updated on April 3, 2013
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Michelle is a professional freelance writer who loves music, poetry, pets, and the arts. She is a techno-geek as well.

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Overcoming insecurity and self-doubt in relationships

“If it wasn’t for you, things would have gone smoothly!” Does this refrain sound familiar?

We all have issues with insecurity or have met highly insecure people. In the statement above, blaming others other than looking at oneself is a sign of entrenched insecurity. The grip of insecurity can be strong and at times even devastating. Indeed, dealing with insecurities is an overwhelming and challenging task.

What causes these insecurities, how do we recognize them and best handle them as they make an unwelcome appearance?

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What causes insecurity?

In a relationship with our spouse, family and friends, the insecurity can stem from a few sources.

Trust issues from past relationships or experiences

The person may have been let down before in a relationship or experience. The hurt could have cause a fear and distrust of others.

Self-guilt

The insecurity can also come from feeling guilty about previous mistakes made and perhaps forcing the self correction on others.

A poor feeling of self-acceptance

Though he may not admit it, an insecure person has a strong inferiority complex and cannot accept himself as he is. It causes him to make negative remarks about everything.

A fear of being overshadowed

This is the greatest cause of insecurity. More often than not, people have a fear that others will do better or out shine them in areas of work or relationships. This fear of being overshadowed creates insecurity.

Poor body image

At times, the outward appearance puts a bearing on a person’s sense of security because they are often told negative things about it, eg, “You’re too fat,’ “You’re too skinny” or “too short.” The body image may have even led to circumstances of bullying in childhood.

Body image definitely causes a few security issues. For some, working on one’s outer image, dress sense or fitness can help to develop a better sense of security.

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What are the signs of insecurity

The first move anyone has to make to overcome insecurity is to recognize its presence and signs. Not knowing or denying that there is insecurity can be a stumbling block to overcoming it.

Inability to give a compliment

An insecure person usually has difficulty giving others compliments because their very insecurity, or perhaps one among a few, is the fear of being out done by others. So they refuse to see the good in anything that others do and keep compliments to a minimum. In extreme cases, this may even lead to negative, destructive criticism.

Inability to make eye contact

An insecure person always looks down rather than makes eye contact with others, for fear of revealing too much to the other party or out of sheer fear of being seen for who they are. I am sure you have seen this many times - an insecure person will try not to look at you.

An insecure person has a lot of self-doubt.

One sign of insecurity is doubting one’s own abilities. When you have fear of completing tasks or overcoming challenges, it is a sign of lack of confidence in the ability to do so.

Challenges present insecurities that we have to overcome all the time. This is why they do the tough job of bringing us out of our comfort zones.

A sign of insecurity is the need for control.

An insecure person has a need to be sure that he or she is in the know about everything. They believe that if not, all hell breaks loose. They need to know that circumstances are occurring in the way they deem fit.

Have you met the person in the office who needs to be sure that you follow the procedures he or she has set to the letter, or the boss who is so afraid of being overshadowed that he puts measures in place to curtail his subordinates’ progress? Familiar, and insecure.

An insecure person is defensive.

An insecure person assumes that everything that is said is an arrow ready to be aimed at him. His fear of criticism is very much greater than others’, so he has the belief that everyone is pointing fingers at him. Statements he makes tend to be defenses of his actions.

An insecure person is not willing to share personal information

An insecure person does not share much about himself to anyone. He fears that any weaknesses he has will be on display as well. He hardly, if ever, tells the truth about himself.

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When a person is insecure, he always needs to be right.

Have you ever met the person who needs to be correct about everything? That is Mr. Insecure. He is afraid to be seen as the loser in an argument and his point always has to come across as the winner.

This is sometimes true of arguments between parents and children. The parent sometimes does not want to admit that his child may have a point for fear of losing control.

An insecure person is not willing to share his or her happiness.

When a person is insecure, he or she feels uncomfortable witnessing the success of others around him. He runs that success down with criticism for fear of being overshadowed.

I know of someone who criticizes the children of her friends when they seem to have more success than her own. They are either not smart enough or beautiful enough and anyone who has children who prove their success in certain areas evoke deep seated fear.

An insecure person has bouts of frustration.

An insecure person has occasions of frustration when he thinks that he has not achieved enough or when he has been surpassed in relationships or at work. The frustration can cause him to be unreasonably critical of others around him.

An insecure person is always fault finding.

An insecure person always sees faults in everything and is also Miss or Mr. Perfectionist.

Nothing is ever good enough for this person.

I know of someone who recently criticized a friend’s apartment, well-swept and kept, for being very dirty. She insisted on coming down personally to clean the apartment until my friend had to put a firm stop to it.

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How do we deal with an insecure person?

An insecure person, whether conscious of it or not, can have a toxic presence. He either makes you feel negative about him, or worse still, about yourself and your abilities. So how do we deal with such a person?

Have a little understanding and empathy.

When you feel angry or irritated by the behavior or unnatural criticisms of an insecure person, try to look beyond the anger and into the reasons why that person might be behaving in such a way. A little empathy helps to quell your own anger.

In the example of the lady who forced her presence on my friend’s “dirty” home, the same lady has deep seated health and relationship issues. Often, issues that are difficult to resolve cause some unstable behavior.

Be kind.

With such knowledge on hand, be kind to the insecure person and try to understand that he or she has issues to deal with. Sometimes a word in kindness might serve as a prompt for him or her to change any toxic behavior.

Learn to ignore the insecure person’s criticism.

While this is a challenge, it sometimes has to be done, especially when the insecure person is your own parent or sibling. Knowing that the criticism they give has no grounds, try the best you can to ignore it. Remember that it has no actual bearing on yourself or your ability.

Give them a little help.

Sometimes a kind prompt might serve to help the insecure person realize the negativity of their own actions. Or, if amenable, talk them through the issue that is bothering them.

Watch out for yourself.

Do not get drawn in by an insecure person’s toxic remarks and remember that in trying to help them, these negative remarks or actions can also hurt you.

I had a good friend who had deep seated insecurities that caused her to distrust everyone. When I approached her, she locked me out of her home. Thus I learned the valuable lesson of having to watch out for ourselves when helping the insecure person, for their problems may require assistance we may not be equipped to give.

Provide a listening ear.

When a person opens up to you about insecurities, be kind and offer a listening ear for it is not easy for someone with insecurity to trust anyone. Shutting him out closes the doors to trust and thus, change.

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How do I overcome my own insecurity?

Much as we do not like to admit this, we all have issues that challenge our sense of security. If not addressed or dealt with, these issues can consume and make us the toxic persons we dislike. We can set ourselves up for failure if we do not deal with our insecurities.

Address it honestly.

It is understandable that addressing insecurity is very uncomfortable, yet it must be done. When facing insecurity, do not deny the problem. Instead, face it and find positive sources to conquer the negative feelings.

Accept who you are.

Each one of us, with our insecurities, has something to contribute to society and life. With that knowledge, accept ourselves and be proud of that! Our inner beauty is our own and must be cherished.

We may be the victims of toxic remarks and insecurity, and when we are, we should remind ourselves to prevent our thoughts from veering towards the negative. Remember that the retention of a positive attitude is of the essence.

Find the source of our insecurity.

Is there something that triggers irritation or perhaps brash behavior? That would be the source of our insecurity. Sometimes, it requires a little digging to get through to the root of the problem.

The lady who tried to force my friend to let her clean her home not only has health problems but also has a fear of facing the illness alone. The actual source of our insecurities may run a little deeper that we may be aware of.

Ask how the fear or insecurity can benefit you.

Feelings of insecurity do not benefits us, so once we recognize it, take a step back and ask how the self-doubt can benefit us.

Make some practical plans to conquer your insecurity.

Once we know that we suffer from insecurity, make some practical plans to conquer it. Perhaps it is enrolling in a class, or daily meditation. It could even be a daily walk.

Examine your thoughts.

Examine your thoughts and determine whether these thoughts are based on fact. Challenge them and ask whether they have any basis.

Take small steps.

It may not be realistic to overcome your insecurity at once. If your insecurity has to do with not having enough knowledge, enroll in courses that increase that knowledge. If it is with a relationship, give yourself time to talk to the other person.


Conclusion

In conclusion, insecurity is an all too prevalent problem that should be addressed before it gets out of hand and hence, toxic. If you know someone who is insecure, try, if possible, to give them a hand.

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    • profile image

      shachi 2 years ago

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    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      It is, Jackie. Thing is, the only people who can help us avoid our insecurities are ourselves. Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      I think everyone has something that they are insecure about. WIth things we are sure of, we'd be sure, confident...when she face our fears, our insecurities make themselves present. Thanks for sharing, Glim.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I agree with this completely. We must be quite independent to avoid this. Sad way to be. ^

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Interesting article. I see characteristics mentioned here in people I think are quite secure too so I wonder if they are insecure in certain situations only. Shared.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Mary! Everyone has their insecurities, it's just whether we address them healthily or not. Thanks for sharing!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      When I was a very young person, I was insecure, but that was because I was such an introvert. I don't think I was ever guilty of the bad traits you mention though.

      I have known people with the traits you do mention.

      Voted UP and shared.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      We all have them! Thanks for sharing, jhamann.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Eddy.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      That's true....these insecure feelings just sink you and do not leave you an option to raise yourself higher. Thanks for sharing, Tess.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      I certainly hope it helps because feelings are things that many just ignore. Thanks for sharing!

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 4 years ago from Reno NV

      Thank you, I battle with my inescurities every day and this was very enlightening. Jamie

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      A brilliant share Michelle and thank you so much for this gem.

      I vote up here.

      Enjoy your day.

      Eddy.

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image

      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      When you're in a boat full of insecurities, jump ship before it takes you down to the underworld. If you're around insecure beings, don't let them gobble you up; stand for yourself, your backbone should be stronger.

      Hi Michelle!!! Very useful and interesting hub. Have a pleasant day!

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 4 years ago from Chennai, India

      A wise hub! You clearly described the feeling of insecurity as well as highlighting the reasons behend it & stating the sensible ways on how to overcome this unwanted feeling. Well-done!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Awesome & Interesting. Voted up & shared

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hey, Joelle, thanks! Yes, it is not easy, especially when you are connected to a relatively close knit Asian family. Thanks for sharing, that means a lot!

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Hi again Michelle,

      When insecure people are close to you it's even harder because they try to manipulate you and play the victim while you are the bad guy and that's why it drains so much energy. What is sad, if you take your distance especially with a close member of your family or a close friend you feel that you loose anyway.....but it's the price to pay for inner peace. Those people are vampires and they suck the energy out of you. I know...I've been there and it's not easy.

      I hope that you can find a peaceful solution!

      Joelle

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Correct. Insecurity stems from not wanting to be hurt. I believe in roundedness.....it usually takes both hands to clap. Sometimes the signals we give others cause insecurity too. Thanks for sharing, Ruchira!

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

      When love, understanding, is misunderstood or bruised...insecurity kicks in. It is a terrible feeling and you gave the both sides of the coin well.

      Interesting approach, Michelle.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hello, kidscrafts! Oh yes, they are emotionally draining. I am dealing with people close to me who are this way at the moment. Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, insecure people turn bullies because they are afraid of being overshadowed. Good strategy! Just ignore them and let them be, since it's not easy to address it unless a person is close enough to you to want to address it. Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hi livingsta. There are many things that make us feel insecure and can generate much fear. It is dealing with it in a positive way! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Bake like a Pro, you have said it well. This is something we deal with almost on a daily basis, either with ourselves or with someone else. Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Oh, it definitely takes time to reach to a closed mind, Mary. I am experiencing this myself, hence this hub. Though it is not easy, with the blessing of God and time, it gets through. Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Martie. I think you speak for all of us. We all have this veneer of what we want others to see.....polished, secure, put together. But each of us have our insecurities to deal with and we have to keep them in check before they get out of hand! We are we, special as who we are, like no other.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, we often do not know what the insecurity is. Going deeper into it takes a little therapy....this is when the issues are deep seated. Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, it does, Rachna. And it creates a huge problem in relationships if not kept in check. Thanks for sharing, Rachna!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Janine. Oh, tell me about it, these insecurities come up a lot especially as teens! Thanks for sharing!

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Excellent tips Michelle! Insecure persons can be wolves eating all your energy. When you are surrounded by such people, you have to protect yourself!

      Voted up and interesting!

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Ahh, I've met few people on this category from the workplace and mind you, they can be bullies too and they get into my nerves--sorry.

      How did I deal with them? I simply ignore them since they are actually hungry for attention. So, I just don't feed their hunger.

      Good points and tips Michelle. You have my votes up and across ('cept funny) and will share.

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Some valuable information here. I have come across these situations quite a lot, and I totally understand why they feel so. I have myself been in that stage of life and later recovered. Thank you for sharing this. Voted up and sharing! I am sure this will help benefit many!

    • Bake Like a Pro profile image

      Bake Like a Pro 4 years ago

      Great tips. This is one issue a lot of people are dealing with either about themselves or others they know. These tips will help overcome it. Pinned and sharing. Thank you.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      This hub comes at a time when I am dealing with a very insecure person but have exhausted all human ways of trying to reach this person. Hours of sitting and talking ended with a dead end...metaphorically she's locked the door on me.

      You've give some good suggestions here that will hopefully work with more open-minded people.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

      This is a superb and comprehensive hub about insecurity with excellent advice.

      For too many years I''ve been for all these reasons and more so pathetically insecure, though hiding behind a front of self-confidence. I am so glad I have finally conquered all my issues, although they are not dead and easy to set alight by a person who reminds me of the bullies I once knew.

      I think there will always be people and events powerful enough to arouse our insecurity; it is a full-time job to believe in ourselves and our abilities. And also to accept the fact that we are not perfect and that there will always be people better than we.... to be respected and admired without feeling incompotent and insecure.

      Awesome, midget!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Finding the source of insecurity is not always easy but it is very important. You have made some valid points here. Well done!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Great tips on how to overcome insecurity and also how to deal with those who are insecure. Could have totally used this one in my youth, when I knew and even dated many that were just like this. This really is a great resource Michelle and thanks for sharing. Have, of course, shared and voted up!!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      An article on the signs of insecurity and overcoming it.