10 Signs of Insecurity

Some time ago I wrote an article about being more secure, but sometimes knowing the signs of insecurity (in others as well as ourselves) is equally important: if we don’t, we can leave ourselves open to making other people’s lives difficult, or to continuing in relationships that may actually be damaging to us.

Being secure is important primariliy because it gives us resilience. Castles, for example, were usually built with walls so when an enemy attacked they couldn’t threaten the castle itself. The walls still had gates so the right people could be let in, but when under siege, the gates were shut and the walls protected what was really important.

The story of the three pigs shares the same principle – their house of straw was blown down easily, but once they were secure in a house of bricks, the wolf couldn’t affect them. The same goes for people – the more secure we are, the less wavering we are when we come under attack. A secure person doesn’t let others throw doubt on their sense of self. They are less threatened and stressed when it comes to the inevitably difficulties of life, whether that be the thoughtless remark of a friend, or the deliberately malicious assault of a bully.

Insecurity, however, comes down to the need to prove one’s worth to others. But how does it show itself in every day life? Here are 10 examples.

1. The Under-Confident

Insecurity is traditionally identified in someone who has no faith in themselves.  Someone who is under-confident constantly questions what they’re doing and/or puts themselves down, often because someone else doubted/criticised them first (perhaps during childhood). The voice of doubt is planted in their mind and they echo the words themselves until they believe them. This then leaves them more vulnerable to the next attack on their identity and totally without confidence. 

This person may also find it difficult to say 'no' or to exert their own needs. Rather, they say yes to others' demands to try and earn their worth.

2. The Attention-Seeker

Someone who seeks attention, whether by loudly attracting notice or by being self-critical in hope of receiving a compliment, is also trying to meet a need – they are looking to others to get a sense of worth. People who sulk are also attempting to manipulate people with their moods, aimed at getting the attention they believe they need.

3. The Over-Confident

Other people are over-confident – they present their life as perfect and full of friends, success and fulfilled-dreams. Confidence in itself isn’t bad, of course, but when it’s over the top it can indicate the need to prove something. That need usually comes back to self-worth as well: ‘if everyone thinks I’m doing great, they will approve of me’. In reality people warm to genuineness, and the secure person doesn’t mind admitting when things aren’t perfect simply because their worth isn’t hinged on their success.

4. The Bully

People who deliberately hurt others are operating from a place of pain within themselves. A secure person doesn’t feel the need to put others down or hurt them, as they are not threatened by the thought of other people’s success. The bully, however, shows their insecurity by their need to keep everyone below them, lest they overtake them in power and/or success.

5. The Jealous

Bullying and jealousy are often interlinked, and both come back to the same insecurity. Someone who is jealous is again showing signs of insecurity: if they were secure, they wouldn’t be resentful of other people’s achievements. Instead, they would encourage and actively help others reach their dreams.

6. The Fake

People can usually sense when someone isn’t being real with them, but why would someone be fake to start with? It’s often because they’re not happy with who they really are, so they present a different person or a mask to the world in hope that will be more acceptable. Someone who is secure is willing and able to present their real self to the world, and is not threatened by other people’s criticisms.

7.  The Overly Needy

Like the attention seeker, the overly needy person looks to others for their sense of worth, but often to relationship-damaging proportions. They constantly require praise, declarations of love and promises of commitment to counterbalance their general lack of trust in others and in themselves. This can be exhausting for both parties and frequently places too much pressure on the one left trying to meet the needs. 

8.  The Arrogant

Arrogant people have an inflated view of their own self-importance and may be obsessed with their position, how much they make, what car they drive and how big their house is. In other words, they judge their self-worth by their success and other people’s opinions, and feel the need to continually declare how great they are in front of others. Alternatively, they may be too important to converse with others, or treat others patronisingly to ensure their importance is known wherever they go. Instead of judging themselves by what matters, they become conceited about the material things. Yet, behind the egotistical nature, there is often just another person feeling insecure about what they really have to offer.

9. The Selfish

Selfishness is a complicated issue that can have many causes, but it almost always results in an inability to offer help, praise or support to other people even when they need it most. Selfish people focus on themselves and their own achievements instead, all of which cleverly masks their need to prove themselves, i.e., their actual insecurity.

10. The Constant Talker & The Gossip

People who talk just to fill in the silence, talk constantly about themselves, or talk even when others are noticeably bored, are often desperate to be noticed.  A secure person is not threatened by silence and doesn’t mind actively listening to others instead.  

The gossip is also indicating insecurity: a secure person doesn’t feel the need to spread rumours for attention or to backstab someone, and would rather spend their energies on something positive and uplifting.

Insecurity shows itself in many ways, and being able to identify the signs can open the way to self-development and better relationships.

Related: 10 Ways to Feel More Secure