We’ve all dealt with insecurities at some point in our lives. Some of us are just better at hiding or dealing with them than others. You worry that you’re not intelligent or fun enough, you worry that you won’t have a future as bright as someone else's, you worry that you’re not attractive or that you’ll never find your dream job. In short, you worry that you’re not good enough to lead the kind of life you want. These self-critical thoughts or pangs of self-doubt slowly enter your mind and attach themselves to you like nasty parasites. But is that right?
A few years ago, a study by Rescue Remedy in London revealed that we spend a minimum of one hour, 50 minutes daily (accounting to 12 hours, 53 minutes a week and 4 years, 11 months in our adult lifetime) worrying about things that aren’t meant to bother us after a certain period in our lives. It’s okay for us to reflect on ourselves, but if these thoughts of self-doubt and insecurities fester for longer, they can kill our self-confidence and complicate our relationships with people we love with such relationship insecurity. At some point in your life, you might have asked yourself, why am I so insecure and how to overcome insecurity to lead a happier, healthier life? We may help you with all the answers, let us start by understanding what’s making you so anxious and why.
Insecurity arises from the fear of not being ‘good enough’ or ‘having enough’ to be happy. Thinking negative thoughts about yourself every day can take a toll on your life. Before you know it, they’ll take up pretty much the entire space in your mind and become toxic. So, how do we recognise the common signs or characteristics of insecurity in us? Let’s find out.
1. One of the most common signs of insecurity is of being constantly anxious. Since you’re always afraid of what people might think about you or how they’ll judge you, you become too scared to mess things up. So, you tend to shut yourself down in situations that require social interaction or fail to participate in important tasks. When you find yourself making a mistake, you beat yourself up constantly, indulge in self-pity and begin to doubt yourself even more.
2. Another sign of being insecure is when you can’t help but try to control everything around you. When you fear you might not be able to cope with whatever life throws at you, you try your best to control all the situations in your life. You don’t like to go with the flow of life. So, if someone doesn’t give you a predicted response or something does not go as planned, you freak out and start feeling stressed.
3. If you feel insecure about yourself, it’s obvious that you’ll try to look for validation from others, which is why you’ll constantly try to impress them. You boast about your achievements and qualities and try to gain as many compliments as you can, for it’s the only way you feel good about yourself. No matter what you do, deep down, you fear that you’re not good enough for anybody, so you become desperate for others to like you even more.
4. A clear sign of being an extremely insecure person is when you try to please the people around you, all the time. You constantly try to make others happy and believe that’s how it’s meant to be. You’re always ready to help them, leaving your own comfort and feel more responsible for others’ happiness than your own. If you say no to them, you end up with guilt and resentment and feel that you’re a horrible person.
5. When you feel that you’re not doing something well, you spend an excessive amount of time in trying to get things done ‘just right’. This way, you end up getting stuck with a particular task, take way too much time in completing your work and fail to meet your deadlines. When you realise that you’ve failed to do your work correctly and have let people down, it makes you feel bad about yourself without realising the root cause of it all.
6. When you become too fearful of everything and everyone in your life, this buildup of emotions convinces you to isolate yourself from the world. You do this because you feel that by withdrawing yourself from people, you will not be judged, criticised or hurt.
There are always reasons for the way we are, the way we think and the way we behave. We may have stayed oblivious to these reasons for a long time but deep down, certain experiences from our past or a few things that we do every day have the ability to shape us in a way that we never thought. When something hurts or bothers us in a way that cannot be expressed effortlessly, it gets stored in our subconscious. When this gets bottled up over time, it begins to get expressed through our thoughts and behaviours and affect our routine life. So, what, in fact, leads a person to become insecure?
As children, we face situations that we can’t control or change. There are decisions that are not in our hands and sometimes, we can’t express what’s affecting us. Someone who has been bullied in school may continue to have a deep-rooted fear of being judged or made fun of by people around them. This may cause them to stay subdued and reserved, making it difficult to form new relationships quickly. Someone who dealt with an abusive parent or guardian may feel fearful of those in positions of power - it may remind them of everything bad that could happen if they refuse to obey them. Even small incidents from our childhood like failing tests, or life-altering decisions like divorces or losing a loved one, can make a person insecure.
When we’re young, we see ourselves through our parents’ eyes. We don’t know what’s right or wrong ourselves, so we believe whatever they try to make us understand. Their compliments become important to us, so when they disapprove of something, we take it so seriously that they tend to stay with us. So, someone who was expected to top every subject in school/college may begin to feel like a loser if they’re unable to overachieve at work. Similarly, if a child was body-shamed or told to perfect certain standards of beauty, they would grow up feeling insecure about their body and looks and they will find it difficult to be comfortable in their own skin.
We lose faith in people when we don’t have any friends who’d stand up for us and be there for us. Lack of friends we can depend on is the reason we end up people-pleasing our way through lives by trying to fit in groups or letting others take advantage of us. We know how it feels to be alone. So, we’re almost always apprehensive of being left out. We’d rather hang out with a bunch of people who secretly judge us.
One of the most common reasons for insecurity stems from toxic relationships. Chances are that if you’ve been betrayed, cheated on or dumped by someone you loved, you will find it extremely difficult to move on. No matter how honest or loyal your new partner might be, you wouldn’t be able to trust him completely. This is why your fears either stop you from opening up to the idea of new relationships or when you do enter into one, these bottled up emotions make you feel possessive and commitment-phobic.
The worst thing that we can do to ourselves is underestimating our own abilities, demeaning ourselves and engaging in negative self-talk that leads us to believe the worst things about ourselves. When we start thinking that we’re not smart enough, attractive enough or good enough, then we stop loving ourselves.
From bad childhood experiences to lack of good relationships, it’s obvious that there are many things that negatively affect our lives. Here are some of the few ways through which our insecurity starts becoming self-destructive:
1. You’re mistakenly perceived as an arrogant person as you tend to withdraw yourself from everyone, participate less in conversations and refuse to come out of your shell.
2. You’re almost always fearful of losing people you love because you believe that you’re not good enough for them and will soon be replaced by someone better than you.
3. You find yourself panicking easily over the smallest of issues and blow things out of proportion.
4. You become indecisive and face trouble handling every decision-making situation as you’re never satisfied with your own thoughts or opinions.
5. You become paranoid, possessive and overprotective of your partner because of which you end up getting involved in a lot of unnecessary fights, arguments and misunderstandings.
6. You overthink every little situation and create problems even when there aren’t any.
7. You become hypersensitive and take offence to every criticism/comment to heart, even if it’s light-hearted.
8. You feel unloved, unappreciated and unaccepted by everyone around you because you fail to love, accept and appreciate yourself.
9. You avoid all kinds of social contact and spend more time sleeping, day-dreaming or getting lost in your own fantasy world to seek an escape from reality.
10. You become overly-guarded, which makes it difficult for you to communicate your feelings and thoughts with anybody around you and establish healthy, long-lasting relationships.
The most important question is - how do we overcome insecurity in the different phases of our lives? Let's find out.
Find out what’s really bothering you and speak to your partner about it. Is it something that they did that is troubling you? Is it something to do with your own interpretation of a situation or do they feel the same too? Let your partner know what you’re thinking and work it out instead of overthinking and immersing yourself in self-doubt.
Give Your Partner The Benefit Of The Doubt
Give them a chance to tell you their side of the story too, rather than believing the worst of them. It’ll help if you let them express themselves and listen to their side of the story patiently, without cutting them off or shutting them down.
Stop Comparing Yourself
The worst thing that you can do is compare yourself to other important people in your partner’s life or their exes. Understand that there’s a reason why they are with you, not them. It’s because they love you and adore you for who you are. It’s okay to feel a little jealous, sometimes, but not to such an extent that it creates a toxic environment for you both and drives him away due to your never-ending doubts, accusations or misunderstandings.
Give Love Another Chance
Don’t dwell on things that you can never change. Just because you loved and lost someone once, doesn’t mean it’ll happen again. An important step in overcoming insecurity is accepting ‘what’s done is done’ and being positive about what’s going to happen next. Not everyone is lucky enough to find someone (again) who loves them back. If you have, try to break down your walls, gradually, and welcome this love with open arms.
Find The Ones You Can Be *Yourself* With
When you’re trying to make new friends, make sure that you’re not dependent on anyone entirely for your happiness or hold them responsible for making you feel good about yourself. Seeking reassurance from others in life is like making them the author of your story. Instead, listen to your gut and go with the flow. Find the kind of people whom you feel comfortable with. You want friends to love you for who you are and not for someone you think they want you to be.
Don’t Wait For Them To Initiate
Don’t keep waiting for your friends to take the first step or initiate a conversation before you do. If you want this friendship to grow stronger, you have to put in equal effort to get to know each other better and show them that you want to take an interest in their lives.
Focus Quality Over Quantity
Be friendly with everyone but don’t expect to find real friendships everywhere. Don’t try to calculate your worth by the number of friends you have. Instead, reflect on the quality of the friendships that you have formed. If they are the kind of friends you wish to have by your side forever, then these rare gems are the only ones you should be thankful for.
Don’t Give Up On Your Friends Easily
You can’t expect to have a close friend in your life without having a few ups and downs in your journey. It’s okay for friends to fight sometimes. As much as you love and care about each other, you both are different individuals and have a unique point of view. It’s okay for you to disagree, argue or be upset. It doesn’t mean that your friend has ‘changed’ or doesn’t love you anymore. In fact, some fights end up making your bond stronger. So, instead of giving up on your friendship or shutting yourself off, give each other some time apart to think about what happened and then talk to each other.
Learn To Differentiate Between Healthy & Unhealthy Worries
When you’re trying to work on a challenging project or task, you’re bound to feel a bit worried in the beginning. Sometimes, these feelings give us the kind of push we need to discover our limitless potential and become the stepping stones to our success. But you must learn to distinguish between the kind that's healthy for work-life and the one that slowly ruins your peace of mind. Don’t let it interfere with your ability to get the job done, but use these emotions to drive you to greatness.
It’s Okay To Have ‘Blah’ Days
Not every day is going to be YOUR day and you need to be okay with this. You may walk into the office some days and exceed all your targets. Other days, you may feel you lack motivation or take longer than usual to finish your daily tasks with efficiency. Instead of beating yourself about it and giving up, have the courage to accept it and move on. Each new day gives you the opportunity to prove yourself again.
Learn To Applaud For Yourself
Learn to take every criticism constructively. Don’t estimate your worth on the basis of the number of compliments or praises you receive for your work from your managers or boss. You don’t work for others; you work for yourself. So, the only person that you need to satisfy is yourself. Instead of comparing yourself to others, compare your current situation to where you were a year ago and be proud of all the progress that you’ve made. Learn to appreciate yourself and value your work.
Change The Way You Feel About Yourself
The first step in overcoming your personal insecurities is by facing all your fears upfront. Take a journal and list down all the things that make you feel anxious, worried, fearful or not-so-good about yourself and give reasons for each. Take as much time you need to pen down these thoughts. Once you’re done, turn over the next page and now mention all the things that make you feel happy, blessed and proud of yourself. It can be your positive qualities, strengths, achievements, favourite moments or even important people in your life you’re grateful for. Now, remember: whenever you feel overwhelmed with insecurities, make sure that you read these points and reflect. Sometimes, when we overthink, we tend to forget our strengths. With everything written, it’s impossible to do that!
Love Your *Perfect* Imperfections
It’s important to feel comfortable in your own skin and be HAPPY with yourself. Nobody is perfect in this world. We all have flaws and that’s what makes us unique. If you want to change or improve something about yourself, try to find a solution and start working towards it diligently. But if there’s nothing you can do about it, learn to accept your imperfections and be content with them.
Think, Reflect, Act
Learn to forgive yourself. When we get hurt, we often get carried away by our own thoughts and jump to conclusions, judgements or decisions that are bound to make us feel worse. We feel that’s the only choice we have, but that’s not true. Before you make any assumption or react to something, try to understand if this situation is worth your time, attention and energy. Give yourself time (at least 24 hours) to reflect on it. If it still bothers you after one day with the same intensity, then do something about it. If it doesn’t, don’t spend more than five minutes worrying about it.
Do Something That Makes You Happy
Find something that makes you happy at the end of the day. Whether it’s your favourite activity, passion/art or even if it’s something as small as talking to someone you love for a few minutes. Do something that brings you peace and helps you relax. Make sure that you take out at least five minutes from your busy schedule every single day for these few moments of happiness.
Self-introspection is important. Take it one step (and day) at a time and fall in love with yourself.
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