Insecurity creeps into your brain one day, makes itself comfy, and overstays its welcome.
Before you know it, you question your entire existence.
Are you wearing the right clothes? Listening to the right music? Being friends with the right people?
But while everyone struggles with insecurity now and then, some people have it worse than others.
Not only that, but they might not even grasp how much of a problem their self-doubt has become.
If you’re doing these 10 things, you’re probably more insecure than you realize.
Perhaps it’s time to make some positive changes.
1) Ask for advice before making any decision
While it’s natural to ask for advice when making important decisions, this behavior is problematic when it robs you of personal agency.
If you find yourself asking for other people’s opinions on a regular basis, even for minor things like what to wear or what to order for lunch, take it as a warning sign.
You trust others’ judgment more than your own, which means that your insecurity is at dangerous levels.
2) Never share an opinion first
Speaking of opinions, when was the last time you shared one of your own without waiting to hear what other people had to say?
Imagine you go to the movies with your friends to see a title dubbed a masterpiece.
Critics praise everything from the acting to the cinematography, but you find it lacking.
When you exit the cinema, do you start to bash the movie?
Or do you wait to see how your friends assess it and agree with the consensus, whatever that may be?
If it’s the latter, your insecurity is more severe than you think.
3) Compare yourself to others
While it’s understandable to compare yourself to others occasionally, it’s troublesome when it becomes a part-time job.
There will always be people who are more beautiful, more accomplished, more fun at parties than you.
That doesn’t mean you’re any less of a joy to have around or that your life will amount to nothing.
People accomplish their goals at a different pace – and someone else’s success doesn’t diminish your chances of reaching your full potential.
Here’s how to tell whether this comparison game of yours is an issue:
- It makes you set unreasonable expectations for yourself
- It leads to feelings of inadequacy
- It triggers jealousy or envy
- It makes you want to copy others just to “fit in”
- It gives you a sense of dissatisfaction with your own life
You know what’s better than measuring how you stack up against others?
Being grateful for what you already have.
4) Crave too much external validation
People who crave excessive external validation rely heavily on the judgments of others to determine their self-worth.
If friends, family, or strangers on the internet approve of their lifestyle and decisions, they feel warm and fuzzy inside. If not, they hyperventilate.
People who crave too much external validation also tend to seek reassurance from their partners often.
They want to ensure the relationship is still going strong, even when there’s nothing to worry about.
Additionally, they may rely on positive feedback and praise from superiors or colleagues at work or religiously check the likes, comments, and shares their posts get on social media.
They’re also hypersensitive to criticism and feel devastated whenever someone reprimands them or offers helpful suggestions.
Does all this ring any bells?
Then you’re probably more insecure than you realize.
5) Take everything personally
Whenever someone around me is in a bad mood, my first assumption is that I did something wrong.
They’re mad at me. They’re disappointed in me. They wish they were anywhere else but here with me.
This applies to boyfriends, relatives, friends, and random people who sit next to me on the bus.
About 97% of the time, the bad mood has nothing to do with me whatsoever.
If you’re in the same boat, there’s a chance you also interpret events, comments, or situations as direct attacks on your character when they’re anything but.
Turns out, your friends don’t secretly hate you.
That’s just insecurity showing its ugly head.
6) Put other people down
Insecurity isn’t content to simply chew you out from the inside.
Sometimes, it makes you lash out and hurt other people.
It can disguise itself as arrogance or, worse, push you to criticize and put others down to feel a little better about yourself.
Mocking others diverts attention from your perceived flaws and boosts your self-esteem for a 2-in-1 special.
Too bad it also makes you look like a bonehead.
7) Don’t say no
If you struggle with insecurity, you likely have a hard time saying no.
When you refuse a request, you fear the other person will think less of you.
Your feelings of inadequacy make you fear rejection or abandonment by others, so you overcompensate by trying to please everyone around.
Sometimes, you do it to the detriment of what you want, which is when you know you have a problem.
People-pleasing can look in a lot of ways:
- Taking on too many tasks at work, so your work/life balance goes out the window
- Doing what your friends want rather than what you want
- Volunteers to do others favors, even when they never reciprocate
- Abandoning your plans to assist a loved one with a minor task
- Apologizing when you haven’t done anything wrong
- Suppressing your emotions and hiding your problems not to make others feel burdened
Attending to others’ needs is nice, but you shouldn’t ignore your own.
8) Worry excessively about the future
If you constantly worry about tomorrow, you’re probably more insecure than you realize.
As a millennial, I’m tired of living in unprecedented times, which has been the case for… literal years.
There’s no real upside, but at least I got used to the uncertainty.
Another pandemic might be just around the corner. The economy could get worse. Aliens might not be as friendly as I imagine them.
The truth is, we have no idea what the future holds.
When you’re insecure, you doubt your ability to deal with whatever life throws your way, so you spend a lot of time planning for worst-case scenarios that might never happen.
You imagine a future filled with failure, rejection, and disappointment.
It’s a terrible attitude, and it’s likely keeping you up at night.
9) Engage in passive-aggressive behavior
Since insecure people tend to worry about what others think of them, they might avoid conflict altogether.
Or, they might develop unhealthy ways to deal with it, like passive-aggressiveness.
Instead of being open about what bothers them, they express their negative feelings indirectly:
- Pretend not to be upset or hurt when they are
- Make sarcastic comments that carry a hidden negative message
- Withhold communication or affection from people who wronged them
- Use guilt as a way to manipulate others into doing what they want
- Portray themselves as a victim
Not surprisingly, passive-aggressive behavior puts a strain on your relationships with others.
Fighting openly isn’t the end of the world.
On the contrary – it can help you solve a disagreement in a more productive manner.
10) Don’t try new things
I’ve been thinking about signing up for boxing lessons for a few weeks now, but I have a nagging feeling that I would suck at it.
I’m not an active person, and I fear that my clumsiness will cause me to get badly hurt, the coach will make fun of me, or I won’t be able to learn the moves as quickly as everyone else.
Of course, that’s my insecurity talking.
You don’t go to a beginner’s boxing class because you’re a pro. You do it to learn.
Feeling inadequate can keep you in your comfort zone and hold you back from attempting to expand your horizons.
Here’s a quick test to help you determine if that’s the case:
- If your partner suggests you engage in an unfamiliar activity, do you immediately refuse?
- If your workplace introduces a new productivity system, do you worry that you won’t be able to master it in a timely manner?
- If a colleague proposes a new approach to a project at work, do you dismiss the idea outright, assuming your way is safer because it’s familiar?
- If a friend encourages you to pursue a dream, do you cut them off?
- If you’re invited to a social event, do you consider skipping it because you’re concerned about making a good impression?
- If you come across an exciting business opportunity that involves financial risk, do you decline because you’re afraid of losing money?
If you have more yeses than noes, your self-esteem could use serious work.
Just because you’re insecure now doesn’t mean you’ll be insecure forever.
With self-reflection, support, and maybe therapy, you can build up your confidence and ditch your hesitant ways.
The more your insecurity shrinks, the more your life will change for the better.