Confidence is something I’ve been battling with for a long time. In the past, I was deeply insecure and shy.
This made my school life a living hell at times. In fact, it wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I finally committed to improving my self-confidence and rooting out my insecurities.
Along the way, I learned a thing or two. That’s why I’m going to teach you about the behaviors deeply insecure people often display without even realizing it.
1) Excessive self-criticism
The inner dialogue can be relentless and, for deeply insecure people, even more so. They often replay conversations or situations in their minds, focusing on missteps, lapses of judgment, or errors.
They do this even when they did nothing wrong, and what they did can be viewed as harmless by others.
This self-scrutiny creates a relentless and constant undercurrent of stress. Without checking it, the insecurity only gets worse and worse, and they end up isolating themselves as much as they can.
2) Social withdrawal
Social withdrawal isn’t just about enjoying solitude. It’s a defense mechanism against potential social pitfalls.
Solitude means safety and becomes preferable to the uncertainties of social interaction.
I mean, when I was deeply insecure about myself, I stayed in my apartment as much as I could. This “saved” me from embarrassing myself in front of others.
I was in my safe space, playing video games and interacting with others online.
The issue I had was that I was overthinking and blowing some things that happened out of proportion.
So, for example, if I said something wrong or stupid to someone, I’d think about it for a long time instead of forgetting it at the same moment, as they probably did.
Online, you don’t have to worry about such things.
3) Constant comparison to others
Another incredibly harmful behavior of deeply insecure people is that they compare themselves to others too much.
They look at social media and see that everyone else beside them is doing great in life. That’s complete nonsense, of course.
People only put their best moments online, and, unfortunately, many people don’t realize that.
They (naively) take things at face value.
Another issue is that the comparison game is a relentless pursuit of validation. They don’t just compare accomplishments but also aspects of their identity, creating a distorted sense of self-worth.
4) A constant need for reassurance and validation
A need for external affirmation can stem from a shaky internal foundation. Without that external validation, insecure people struggle to recognize their own worth.
What that results in is an endless cycle of seeking reassurance and approval because they have deep-seated insecurities.
Insecurities that are rooted in past experiences of rejection, criticism, or lack of emotional support.
And so, reassurance becomes a temporary salve for their underlying anxiety. Positive feedback becomes a coping mechanism, albeit a brief one, to counteract internal negative narratives.
5) Avoidance of risk
The fear of judgment or failure can be paralyzing. I know that all too well. It’s not merely a preference for the familiar but a strategy to avoid any situation that reinforces their internal narrative of inadequacy.
But the thing is, when you aren’t taking risks, there’s no chance to fail and no chance to make errors and confirm to yourself how “useless” you are.
But where does that leave them? It’s a well-known fact that growth occurs when you step out of your comfort zone.
Unfortunately, too many deeply insecure people are risk averse and therefore spin their wheels and don’t improve themselves regularly.
6) Fear of rejection
And then there’s the fear of rejection. It, too, can paralyze you, make you not come out of your shell, and isolate you from others.
This fear can be deeply rooted, often originating from past experiences of rejection or abandonment – just like many other behaviors on this list.
It colors their interactions, making them cautious about fully opening up to others.
7) Avoidance of conflict
Conflict avoidance isn’t just a discomfort with disagreements. For insecure people, it involves suppressing their own needs and opinions to sustain a harmonious environment, even if it comes at the cost of their own authenticity.
In other words, deeply insecure people don’t like shaking the cage. They’d prefer staying locked up than confronting people they disagree with.
What this often results in is, again, isolation or being a doormat to others and their needs.
Although it has never come that far in my case, I’ve always tried avoiding conflict and would rather give someone lip service and go on with my day than engage them.
Even to this day, I pick and choose my battles and only argue when it’s important. In other cases, I let people believe what they want. My opinion, sure enough, won’t change theirs.
Over-apologizing is like a reflex for those grappling with insecurities. They don’t simply apologize for genuine mistakes. For them, it’s a habitual response to many different situations.
Apologies even act as a shield against potential disapproval and a way to diffuse any perceived tension and uphold a smooth social facade.
But many deeply insecure people apologize for simply being present or taking up space.
They fear that their thoughts or opinions will trigger conflict or disapproval, so they preemptively say sorry for even having a voice.
They start a sentence with an apology. Or, on the other side, they act defensively.
Yes, defensiveness can also be a symptom of deeply rooted insecurity. It becomes a reflex against potential threats to their self-image.
Criticism, even when constructive, is seen as an attack, triggering a rapid response to protect their fragile self-esteem.
It’s almost a knee-jerk reaction because the moment they sense criticism, their defenses go up.
I’ve often seen this at work, where one colleague would give honest feedback to another.
Yet, they would dismiss the feedback outright and tell them that they know what they’re doing and they don’t need anyone’s input.
Again, defensiveness doesn’t help us improve ourselves. It’s just there to make our lives momentarily easier.
10) Inability to accept compliments
Another issue I’ve had in the past was simply not being able to accept compliments from others comfortably.
You see, I would meet each compliment with internal skepticism, and my mind struggled to reconcile the positive words with my ingrained negative self-perception.
So, instead of simply accepting the compliments, I would downplay my accomplishments. Sure, I was being modest a bit, but I would also attribute what I did to other people or external factors.
Among other things, I did this because I simply didn’t trust others.
11) Difficulty trusting others
Trust issues can be rooted in past betrayals. Opening up to others means you’re navigating a labyrinth of fear, making it tough to form deep connections without a lingering sense of skepticism.
Trust also requires vulnerability, and for someone who’s deeply insecure, the idea of opening up and exposing their true selves is terrifying.
It’s also a way to shield yourself from potential emotional pain. By keeping a distance, you believe you can prevent future hurt.
As a result, relationships suffer. By hesitating to trust people, you become more isolated and reinforce the belief that trusting others is inherently risky.
12) Fear of abandonment
And lastly, I’ll stop this article at the fear of abandonment. This fear of being left alone can manifest in clingy or dependent behavior.
Relationships become a source of security, and any perceived threat to that connection triggers anxiety.
That’s why many insecure people develop hyper-vigilance in their relationships. They constantly scan for signs of potential abandonment.
This results in overanalyzing behaviors and situations even when there’s no real threat.
In the end, they end up believing that their value as a person is intricately tied to the presence and approval of others.
Ultimately, all of these behaviors form a protective shell shielding insecure people from the vulnerabilities they fear facing.
To come out of this shell, you need to recognize and address these patterns as a crucial step towards boosting genuine self-acceptance and building healthier connections with others.
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