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7 Habits of Insecure People, and How You Can Change

The author of, "You're Not Crazy-You're Codependent," an Amazon bestseller that is helping people around the world.

Insecure behavior

Insecure behavior

Characteristics of Insecure People

Insecurity is as common as a cold. Sadly, so many people wander through life saddled with the effects of damaging childhoods, traumatic relationships and events, or real personal shortcomings—all of which can burden a person with a lifetime of endless self-doubt.

But it doesn't have to remain that way. Change is possible if a person is fully committed to making it happen. Yet the tragedy is that deeply insecure adults often don't realize how obvious their problem is. Others become experts at faking it, but the very act of pretending usually highlights the issue to the rest of the world.

7 Ways to Spot Insecurity

1. Defensiveness

When a person feels she (or he) is not equal to others, the first way to respond is often to try to bring others down. That way, she will have a false sense of superiority. This defensiveness is conveyed in several ways, such as:

  • Putting others down
  • Always suspicious that people are looking down on her
  • Easily discouraged
  • Quick to defend herself even when no one has accused or made fun of her
  • Overreacts to authority in a negative way

2. Arrogance

A natural outcome of feeling less-than others is to develop false pride. This is manifested by

  • Bragging
  • Acting as if she is better than others
  • Needing to have more, be more, do more than others to feel worthy
  • Judgmental of everyone in such a way as to make herself superior
  • Unwilling to see her own shortcomings
  • Cruel, cold personality
  • Selfish

3. Needy

In order to feel adequate, many insecure people develop over-the-top needs that put them in the position of having to be treated differently. They are high maintenance!

  • Sick often with unusual or ongoing issues
  • Require constant validation
  • Often become highly jealous

4. "Quitter" Mentality

Insecure people often develop a track record of not being able or willing to finish things such as assignments, careers, school, or even long-term relationships. Why? Because they fear that if they do, they will be judged as not being good enough. Always afraid of rejection, they would rather quit than take a chance that getting to the end of things might reveal them to be a fraud or unlovable.

The opposite of this tendency is to be the 'suck up.' This is the type who has no boundaries and will do anything for approval. This bottomless need for validation causes some insecure people to be the butt of jokes in the workplace and victims of one-sided love affairs and friendships.

5. Fearful

Being constantly afraid and worried is a way of life for the insecure.

  • What if I fail
  • What if they don't like me
  • What if they find out what a phony I am
  • What if someone discovers my shameful secrets (the past, personal problems, etc.)

As a result, these types of people are never at peace, rather, they are highly stressed, easily agitated and usually pessimistic.

6. Angry

With all this negativity pulsing through them 24/7, it is no wonder insecure people are also angry. They're mad at the people who made them this way, at the people who they perceive are judging them (which is almost everyone), but most of all, they are furious at themselves for being such losers. This is a lie, but it's their perception.

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7. Tendency to either isolate or need to be the center of attention

People trying to cope with all these problems have two ways of coping - both are extreme. Some people who are so afraid of rejection and being discovered as frauds will find solace in isolation. By detaching from all that terrifies them, they settle for being alone. At least then, no one can hurt or make them feel worse about themselves than they already do. The truth, however, is that we cannot escape our thoughts. Those negative messages continue to play no matter where we are.

The other extreme are those that feed on being in the limelight—constantly. This means they must be the funniest, the sexiest, the loudest and sometimes the one who pays for everything. In their minds, the continual adulation by his or her admirers serves as validation that they are 'winners.' This helps them forget how badly they really feel about themselves.

Both extremes can lead to other issues of addiction, including:

  • Alcohol, drugs
  • Food
  • Spending
  • Sex
  • Television or other entertainment

They find that isolating and being the center of attention are just short-term ways of escaping their thoughts. They must 'numb out' with addictive behavior in order to function.

Ack! That's Me! Now What??

The truth is most of us have some degree or another of insecurity embedded in our personalities. It's not a death sentence. A little can actually make us more determined to be a better person, while too much can easily leave us feeling helpless and like a lost cause.

If you know that insecurity is running your life and causing you to make one bad decision after another, you have already begun the painful process of changing. Realizing it's a problem is the first step. Here are some steps anyone can take to become the person he or she wants to be.

  1. Be mindful of your actions. This doesn't mean being paranoid and consumed with yourself. Simply begin noting when your conscience tells you that what you're saying or doing is the result of insecurity. Then stop. Of course, it's hard. But you can do it.
  2. When you've hurt someone with your words or actions, get in the habit of apologizing. Not profusely - just simply. For example: "I'm sorry I did that. It wasn't right. I hope you can forgive me." "Oops. That wasn't right. I'm working on changing that, sorry" Don't berate yourself and go into a long reason why you're so messed up. Keep it clean.
  3. Get out of your comfort zone. If you've been talking too much, spending too much, isolating too much—whatever you are doing to make yourself feel better, stop. Instead, force yourself to be quiet and turn down the opportunity to look like a big wheel by buying or spending again. Go out - anywhere - if you've been alone too much. Just being around people will get your mind off yourself, which can be an addiction in itself. If you hate being alone, force yourself to sit quietly and read a book that is helpful to your recovery.
  4. Get counseling to work out your issues. If a traumatic past or childhood is holding you back, don't let another year go by in chains to it. People recover from their issues every day. You can, too.
  5. Surround yourself with people who are on a similar path. AA and all its offshoots are invaluable in offering validation, accountability and support. You'll soon see that you're not crazy and you're not alone.
  6. Seek a relationship with God. In doing so, you'll develop a new weapon: when you are dedicated to pleasing a loving God, you can no longer get away with negative behavior without regretting it.
  7. Be easy on yourself. Of all the people you pick on to feel better, no one gets more of your critical attitude than YOU. It's going to be a long process, but eventually, getting down on yourself will seem boring.
  8. Let yourself explore those things that get you excited, creative and feeling good about yourself. Art, going back to school, exercising, and going on a diet (and finishing it) are all examples of challenging yourself in a positive way. Above all, resist the urge to judge yourself on how well you are doing this.

Insecurity makes us self-centered in the worst way. To overcome it, we have to take our minds off ourselves now and then and develop compassion for others. In helping people around us be their best, we not only make them feel better about being around us, but we begin to see ourselves as giving instead of always reacting out of need.

© 2013 Jeanette Menter


Shane on August 09, 2016:

What i find interesting is that the pronouns she and her were used instead of them. I am not an angry feminist but i like when somebody is professional, especially when it comes to sensitive subjects like this one. It makes Jeanette Menter seem like she was angry at one of her insecure friends when she wrote this.

In my life i met many insecure people and i am an a pretty insecure person myself, but none of the people i met showed any signs of arrogance. They were not emotionless or cold etc. The fact is that some people feel insecure because they always have been put down and now feel as if they are worth less than anyone else. I feel like the majority of insecurity grew from there and that somebody who's insecure doesn't automatically have t0 be a coldhearted self centered angry person.

Rhea on March 27, 2014:

So interesting now i know the reasons behind why some people are too insecure. The only thing to deal with them is to understand what really lies behind. Thank you..

maggs224 from Sunny Spain on September 13, 2013:

I was one of those people but thankfully number 6 changed all that for me, I really enjoyed reading this Hub I will be voting up and hitting the relevant buttons on my way out :D

Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on September 03, 2013:

How true! I have battled with this problem all of my life. I tend to be one that isolates myself for fear I will be "found out." Fortunately, I have been able to recognize the problem, and do many of the things that you have suggested here. It has definitely been a help, especially, in getting out and with others, and helping those who are having difficulty. Now, I am much less apt to get down on myself.

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