Is Insecurity Affecting Your Mental Health?
A toddler learning to walk won’t let go of the furniture the first few times and want to hold your hand while navigating the world. In a few short weeks, they develop the confidence to cruise around without regard for steep inclines or occasional falls. They felt insecure initially but now have enough self-confidence in their walking ability to try running.
We all experience feelings of insecurity from time to time, especially when doing something new. That temporary lack of confidence while building new skills is typical. However, when insecurities become powerful enough to keep you from connecting with others or reaching your goals, it may be time to increase your confidence and rewire how your brain thinks about your insecurity.
At SMPsychotherapy, we believe that overcoming insecurities is an integral part of your growth journey. This blog discusses why people feel insecure and how insecurities can affect mental health. We also give you tools for combating your personal insecurities so you can overcome them and reach your potential.
What is Insecurity?
Insecurity is a sense of anxiety about your self-worth, abilities, and skills. Insecurity can cause low self-confidence and crushing self-doubt that stops you from improving your situation or chasing your dream. Insecurity can be physical if you lack the strength or endurance to do a particular thing. It can be mental when you worry about your ability to perform at work or school. Insecurity can be emotional if you fear the end of a relationship, wrestle with body image, or struggle to manage emotions.
Causes of Insecurity
Insecurity can be caused by biological factors such as an inherited trait or by your life experiences. Many people have mental health or physical health conditions increasing their insecurities. Insecurity can be caused or exacerbated by the following:
- Lack of emotional support from family and/or friends
- Not having adequate food, housing, and safety.
- Low emotional intelligence and an inability to monitor feelings.
- An inability to eliminate negative thoughts and self-criticism.
- Social anxiety or fear of being in new situations or meeting new people.
- Underlying mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and personality disorders.
- Being too dependent on other people or relationships causes relationship insecurity or an intense fear of a breakup.
- Issues with body image leading to feelings of inadequacy.
- Perfectionism, or unusually high standards for yourself and others.
Insecurity Affects Your Mental Health
The levels of insecurity you feel about something can differ depending on the meaning you attach to that insecurity. For example, if you carry insecurity about your ability to meet new people or about the shape of your nose but don’t allow it to affect your self-worth or how you go after your goals, your mental health isn’t likely to suffer.
However, suppose your feelings about your nose become a swirl of negative thoughts saying you’re ugly or not worth as much as others. In that case, it can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression. Suppose your insecurity about meeting new people causes you to avoid most social interactions or makes you worry that you’re unlikable. In that case, it’s likely to trigger social anxiety that worsens over time.
Insecurity affects your mental health when you give power to the insecurity and when it lasts for a long time. That means the key to overcoming insecurities and protecting your self-esteem is reducing the power of your insecurities and working through them as soon as possible.
How to Overcome Insecurity
Overcoming insecurities is essential to your overall well-being. We feel more powerful and in control when moving toward our goals and enjoying life more than worrying about it. The following steps can help you get a handle on your insecurities, reduce their power over your life, and find a way to eliminate them completely.
Identify Your Insecurity
Most people have more than one thing they are insecure about. For this exercise, focus on one that bothers you but not necessarily your biggest one. We’ll save the heavy hitters until you’ve practiced on insecurities with less power. Label the insecurity in a journal, or even on a scrap piece of paper, or the notes app on your phone. Maybe your insecurity is your thighs, or perhaps it’s sharing your opinions.
Next, we need to figure out where that insecurity originated. Did social media portrayals of stick-figure airbrushed models cause you to feel insecure about your thighs? Did family members tell you you were too loud or too opinionated? Did your first boss talk over you whenever you shared an idea? What is your first memory of feeling self-conscious about this piece of yourself?
How Did The Insecurity Get Its Power?
Insecurities often have an initial spark followed by lots of reinforcement that gives them power. Maybe you saw many thin thighs in magazines and then had classmates, or family members call you thunder thighs. Maybe your aunts told you to keep your opinions to yourself, and then sometimes, when you shared one through high school and college, people laughed or ignored you. What experiences gave the insecurity more power?
No insecurity can take root and cause us to abandon parts of our dreams unless we let it. Our self-criticism is often the most influential force when creating or overcoming insecurities. Pay attention to what happens in your daily life that ignites this insecurity. Are you criticizing your thighs every time you look in the mirror? Do you tell yourself to stay quiet before you enter a meeting? What negative self-talk patterns encourage insecurity? Be honest here, but also exercise self-compassion. Remind yourself that it’s okay to feel how you feel right now.
Visualize a Life Without the Insecurity
Once we’ve uncovered the origin of your insecurity, it’s time to create a life free from it. The first step to creating anything is picturing the result. So, spend a moment thinking about your life without the insecurity we’ve focused on this far. What might you wear if you love your thighs? How might you walk into a room? What new things might you try? How would you behave in business meetings if you felt comfortable speaking up? How might you think and feel about yourself?
Remove the Power of the Insecurity
Once you know how you want to live without insecurity, we focus on systematically removing its power over your life. Removing the power starts with self-talk because that’s where most of its power grows. We need to shut down the inner critic. Take a moment to list all the negative thoughts you have related to your insecurity on one side of a piece of paper, and on the other side, create a positive affirmation for each negative thought.
For example, if you look in the mirror and always see your thighs as too big, maybe you start saying, “my thighs are powerful and help me do so much.” If you’re reframing a thought such as “My opinions are always stupid,” try “I am intelligent, and my ideas matter.”
Build a support system
Building a support system to help you work through insecurities is a vital step in the process. These people should be those you can be vulnerable with about your struggles, count on to encourage you rather than bring you down, and help you when you hit a roadblock.
Many people don’t feel comfortable sharing their biggest insecurities with anyone, especially when starting this journey. For these people, working with a licensed mental health professional can help. At SMPsychotherapy and Counseling Services, our providers can help you and your loved ones overcome insecurities and low self-esteem to build the life you want. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment and learn how overcoming insecurities can positively impact your life.
Looking for More?
For more about overcoming insecurities, get on the waitlist for the new book, Unbreakable, by Soribel Martinez, LCSW, CEO of SMPsychotherapy and Counseling Services. The book releases in Spring 2023. It’s a story of one woman’s journey through adversity and how you can use her principles to build the life of your dreams. Join the waitlist here!