We all have insecurities.
I’m insecure about my public speaking abilities. That guy over there is insecure about his beard, and the woman on the opposite side of the street is insecure about her voice.
But there’s a difference between having a few insecurities and drowning in insecurity so deep that you no longer see the light.
Of course, some people mask their low self-esteem better than others, but that doesn’t mean they’re any more confident. It just means they have mastered the art of pretense.
So, here goes…
People who are deeply insecure but mask it well often display these 7 subtle behaviors.
1) They hide behind a veil of mystery
If there’s one thing insecure people share, it’s that they are afraid of rejection.
This is because rejection would only confirm to them their self-doubts are true, making their confidence plummet completely.
Therefore, they are very hesitant to open up and show vulnerability.
And while some people isolate themselves or make themselves appear cold and unapproachable, those who hide their insecurities well employ a different strategy altogether.
They use the magic of mystery to increase their charm and decrease the need for vulnerability.
After all, we all love a bit of mystery, don’t we? It adds spice and flare to our lives.
However, most people get bored of mystery after a while because they ultimately yearn to forge an authentic and strong connection with others.
So, here’s how you can tell an insecure person apart from others: they strive to remain mysterious forever. You simply never get to know them properly.
2) They are hyper-independent
Since many insecure people who mask their low self-esteem struggle to open up, it makes sense that they also prefer to remain as independent as possible.
If you’re completely self-sufficient, you don’t need anyone, right?
If you only ever count on yourself, you don’t need to put your trust in other people, right?
Well, that’s all true… to a point.
Even independence can be taken too far, unfortunately. And if it is, it can give rise to loneliness, which has a highly negative impact on our physical and mental well-being.
If you want to be able to tell whether the person you’re dealing with is secretly insecure, pay attention to their lifestyle and opinions.
Do they always seem busy? Do they glamorize the concept of independence? Do they take on too many tasks, thinking they can do it all alone?
3) Once they make up their mind, they refuse to change their opinion
What if I told you that people who are insecure may actually be the ones who pretend to be most confident?
It’s ironic, isn’t it? And yet there are many such cases.
I used to have a friend who struggled with her self-esteem and who stubbornly stuck to her opinions no matter how much evidence to the contrary was presented to her.
When I talked to her about it during one of our more vulnerable conversations, she said that she often incorporated specific opinions as parts of her identity to make herself feel more whole.
Finally, it made sense to me why she defended all her views tooth and nail. If an opinion of hers was questioned, she saw it as an attack on who she was as a person and automatically placed herself on the defensive.
A person who sticks to their guns no matter what may seem extremely confident, yet sometimes, the opposite is the case.
4) They build their relationships upon validation, not connection
This one’s a bit more difficult to recognize because many people can hide their intentions extremely well, and what’s more, they may not even admit those intentions to themselves.
One way to tell if someone’s hiding a deep sense of insecurity is to look at the overall pattern of their relationships and analyze the dynamic they have with others.
For example, the friend I mentioned earlier used to frequently place herself in relationships where she had the upper hand.
She would show off her intelligence, make subtle remarks to put others down, and look pleased when you came to her for help.
Looking back on it now, I realize that she secretly looked for validation through her relationships with others, which then had a negative impact on the connection itself.
Deeply insecure people want to feel better about themselves. This in and of itself isn’t bad at all. But some of them may use unhealthy power dynamics to boost their confidence, which is where stuff gets complicated.
5) They hide their competitiveness behind a mask of ambition
Another great way to get validation is to compete against others… and win.
However, sore losers are very obviously insecure, which means that people who mask their low self-esteem well will not make their competitive nature too apparent.
Instead, they’ll pretend it’s all about their own ambitions.
They don’t care about beating others; all they care about is beating their past selves. Right?
Wrong. They absolutely do want to be better than their competitors. They just don’t let it show.
6) They pretend they don’t care in order to avoid confrontation
Back when I absolutely despised conflict and felt very insecure about my rhetoric skills, I decided to simply pretend I didn’t care.
It was easier to just go with the flow, let others make all the decisions, and portray myself as the easy-going friend who went along with everything.
It didn’t last long before my resentment and bitterness grew so strong that I knew I had to make a change. I needed to trust myself more, become assertive, and say what I thought out loud.
I’ve come a long way since then, and one of the many things this experience has taught me is that pretending you don’t care isn’t going to make you any happier.
It’s better to have strong friendships that withstand conflict than to hide who you truly are.
7) They make self-deprecating jokes
Self-deprecating jokes can be a sign of both confidence and deep insecurity.
If you’re very comfortable in your own skin, you might make self-deprecating jokes to lighten up the mood, make others feel relaxed, and show high levels of self-awareness.
If you’re insecure, on the other hand, self-deprecating jokes serve as a shield of sorts.
When you make fun of yourself, it becomes very difficult for others to make fun of you, too. You’re already owning it, after all.
Therefore, self-deprecating jokes in and of themselves aren’t enough to tell whether someone is trying to hide their insecurities.
When paired up with the other behaviors on this list, though…
You might very well be dealing with someone who is very good at masking their low self-esteem.
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