10 Signs That Insecurity Is Getting In Your Way + How To Change The Pattern
Do you sometimes feel insecure and uncomfortable in your own body? Many of us do. A lack of self-love can stem from growing up in a family where love was conditional, being in a partnership where you weren't valued, or a number of other triggers. If you've been feeling insecure and out of sorts lately, know that you're not alone. And know that there are strategies that you can use to come back to yourself.
Here are 10 signs that insecurity is getting in the way of your life, and ideas about how to turn it into acceptance. This advice is not a replacement for therapy or other mental health services: If negative feelings persist or you are considering self-harm, seek outside support.
1. You love to please others.
When you’re not rooted in your own worth, you go out of the way to make others happy. A lack of inner love translates into a need for constant approval and appreciation by others.
Take note of the times you go against your own will and do something you don’t want to do. Start to become aware of this behavior. The first step to ending the people-pleasing game is to acknowledge that you're playing it. Once you acknowledge it, you can start to practice standing up for yourself and drawing boundaries where you need to.
2. You have a difficult time saying no.
Not only do you want others to be happy, but you also want to be agreeable. You show up to help, go out of your way to be there for someone, and are enthusiastically present for the people you care about.
Practice saying “no” to small, inconsequential things. Practice saying no to requests from acquaintances and work colleagues. Work your way up to saying “no” to people you love and care about. (It's can be a tough thing to do, but here are some ways to become more comfortable saying "no".)
3. You don’t believe you’re enough.
You are sensitive to criticism and your feelings are hurt quickly. Sometimes, you're not sure if you even deserve to have a good career or be paid what you’re worth.
As cliché as it may sound, the only way to change your beliefs about yourself is to change the thoughts you allow yourself to have. Capturing your thoughts via a journal, sharing your thoughts with a professional, and being more mindful of your thinking are ways to change the pattern. Once you recognize these thoughts, you can substitute negative messages with more positive ones.
Work on healing your heart and building up your self-worth. Find activities that help you feel good about yourself. Take part in sports or other activities that build up your self-image. Practice opening your heart to accepting gifts, compliments, love, and compassion.
4. You compare yourself to others every chance you get.
You immediately feel the urge to compare yourself to others. You’ll go out of your way to look for people who are smarter, kinder, better-looking, healthier, nicer, friendlier, etc.
Remove yourself from situations where you feel like you’re comparing yourself to those around you. This may mean spending less time on social media and unfollowing people who make you feel worse about yourself. Spend less time with people who intentionally or subconsciously make you feel less than.
5. You don’t believe you can do anything right.
You focus on your mistakes, faults, and inadequacies. You imagine the worst-case scenario in every situation and expect that you’ll screw it up.
Reflect on all of your wins, both big and small. Think about all the times you got it right, solved the problem, and met the challenge at hand. Acknowledge that you’ve succeeded far more often than you’ve failed.
6. You're self-conscious of your body.
You don’t love looking in the mirror, and you often engage in negative self-talk when thinking about your body.
Ask yourself if this is really about what you think of your body or if it's more about what you're afraid others will think of your body. If it’s about you, ask yourself what is causing the self-hatred. Past thoughts, experiences, or negativity? Remember that your body is yours, and nobody else's.
7. You feel ashamed of yourself.
You are embarrassed often and frequently want to hide yourself or fade to the background of social situations.
Create an image in your mind of your most empowered, positive self. Ask yourself what it’s going to take to get to that place. Take action to embrace your vulnerabilities, let go of your negative feelings, and affirm your worth. Employ all the tools available to you—from mindfulness and journaling to exercise and therapy—to help you embrace your self-worth.
8. You don’t believe people like you.
Your default thought is that others don’t care for you.
Don’t make these assumptions based on your skewed view of the world. If your default assumption is that people don’t like you, explore it. Pursue those relationships. Look at the actions of others objectively and try to understand their intentions without bias. Spend more time with people who care for you and cut ties with people who don’t.
9. You’re drawn to others who don’t love themselves.
You choose relationships where your partner is also self-sabotaging and takes their pain out on you.
If you’re drawn to relationships like this, become aware of the pattern of attraction to partners who are self-sabotaging. Know that if someone can’t love themselves, they're not going to be able to love you.
10. You treat others poorly.
Your negativity spills out to others and you treat them poorly, even though you feel bad about it later.
Treat yourself gently. Repeat positive affirmations to yourself. Read uplifting books and surround yourself with encouraging people. Treat yourself the way you would treat someone you care about. Exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep. Once you treat yourself with love, respect, and kindness, you’ll start treating others the same way.
Vishnu Subramaniam is a writer, coach, and author of nine self published books, including The Sacred Art of Letting Go: Walk 12 Steps with Spiritual Masters to Let Go of Past Relationships and Find Peace Today. He attended UCLA and worked as an immigration lawyer, but left the legal professional to help people overcome breakups, get out of a rut and build a life they've always wanted.