9 signs that show a person is insecure

Do you ever wonder if someone you know is feeling insecure? 

It’s not always easy to tell, as insecurity can be masked behind a smile or hidden beneath a confident facade. 

But if you pay attention to their behaviors, you might spot the signs. 

In this article, we’ll explore nine common signs that show a person is feeling insecure.

1) They constantly seek validation

The first sign that someone is feeling insecure is if they constantly seek validation.

They may hold off on making decisions until others tell them it’s the right one. Or, they may try to get praise or compliments for others in order to feel that they did something well.

When I feel insecure, I know that getting acceptance and validation from others makes me feel better.

But I didn’t want to ask for it clearly, because I was worried that would make me look even more insecure. (Ironic, right?)

If you notice someone doing this, give them the validation they need but encourage them to find more confidence in their own decisions and feelings.

2) They criticize themselves excessively

We’re our own worst critic — and doubly so when a person feels insecure.

It becomes nearly impossible to see our own strengths and accomplishments.

You might see this when colleagues put themselves down, downplay their achievements, or say they could never get a promotion because they’re not good enough.

There’s something to be said for self-reflection and recognizing our own flaws. But this takes it a little too far.

You need to be willing to forgive yourself for your mistakes in order to learn from them, and always looking for negative things about yourself doesn’t set you up for a lot of success. 

If you find someone being very critical of themselves, ask them what they would think about the situation if it was someone else.

Often this switch can help a person realize that they are being mean to themselves in a way they would never dare be to someone else. 

3) They can’t accept compliments

Insecure people have a very hard time accepting compliments. I know, because I was definitely one of them.

Anytime someone said something positive about me, I would be worried that too much attention is being drawn towards me.

I even sometimes doubted if they were being honest or just poking fun at me. 

You can tell if someone struggles with this, because they will visibly feel awkward and not know what to say.

Alternatively, they may downplay the compliment or even outright reject it. 

This reaction may catch you off guard, but remember it’s not because the person is dismissing your words, but rather because they’re struggling with insecurity

Show them some empathy, and tell them that you really mean the compliment you gave them. You could try backing it up with some objective facts that you noticed, and this could help the person see themselves in a better light too.

4) They compare themselves to others a lot

Does this person seem to compare themselves to others, constantly?

That’s another sign that shows they are insecure.

They measure their worth and success based on external factors, rather than recognizing their own unique journey and achievements.

The problem with this is that there is always someone who is better than you, and there are millions of us on the planet. 

Getting trapped in the comparison game is a truly neverending story. What’s more, it is completely pointless as each of us has our own journey to walk. 

When you see someone comparing themselves to other people, you probably won’t be able to break this habit immediately.

So instead, try to bring their focus to comparing themselves with their past self instead. Ask them where they were when they started, and what milestones they’ve completed so far. 

This method of comparison is actually healthy and can help them appreciate their progress. 

5) They are perfectionist

A person who is insecure often has an intense desire to be perfect at everything they do.

They set impossibly high standards for themselves and feel anxious or inadequate when they fall short.

I’ve seen this perfectionism firsthand in a good friend. She always put immense pressure on herself to get perfect grades, and when she started working she wanted to be the top performing employee at the office.

She had to put her all into every little task, even if it wasn’t that important. A lot of people admired her drive, but the truth is it made her feel exhausted.

I learned that the most helpful approach is to help her, and other perfectionists, celebrate their efforts and not just the outcomes. 

If they open up to you about their imperfections, help them see the beauty in them too. 

6) They need constant reassurance

This is a sign that you may only see if you’re in a closer relationship with the person. They will need constant reassurance.

It’s most obvious in romantic relationships, but you can see it even with a family member, a coworker, an employee, or a close friend.

Here are a few examples I’ve noticed:

  • A family member wants to hear “I love you” very often
  • Your partner keeps asking you if you find them attractive
  • A coworker asks your opinion on their work every time they’re about to hand it in

It’s tricky to know what to do in this situation.

On one hand, giving them the reassurance they need will help them feel better. But on the other hand, you’re also supporting their dependence on other people’s opinions.

You could try instead asking them what they themselves think about the situation, and how they perceive things. Feel free to share your own point of view on the situation, but tell them that their own feelings are what’s most important.

7) They avoid taking risks

It’s true that most people don’t like risks. But an insecure person will be all the more careful about them.

They’re too afraid of failing to try things when they see a chance that they may not succeed. 

They may also be afraid of other people’s judgment if things don’t work out in their favor. 

Risks are called risks for a reason, so it’s good that they don’t throw themselves headfirst into every whim that comes to mind.

However, the behavior described above can hold a person back, trapping them within their perceived safety zone.

A colleague of mine had this so bad that she even hesitated to voice her ideas during team meetings. She was afraid of being criticized or ridiculed, so she preferred to stay silent even when she disagreed with something. 

If you know someone like this, you could take some time with them to consider the pros and cons of the risk, and weigh whether or not it’s worth it to try. 

8) They over-apologize

A person who is insecure will over-apologize, even for minor things that are not their fault.

This shows they’re afraid of making others unhappy or being seen as inadequate. So they constantly apologize to avoid conflict.

I know someone like this, and to be honest most people like this person because he’s very non-conflictive.

But I’ve also seen how upset he feels in some situations where his boundaries are not respected, and his opinion isn’t heard.

So when I see him apologizing for something that he really doesn’t need to, I try to defend him and make sure other people take responsibility for their own mistakes. 

If you see someone struggling with something similar, you could try doing the same.

9) They are very defensive

The last of the 9 signs that show a person is insecure is being very defensive

This is another sign that I recognized in myself, so I know it very well. Several experiences in my life made me sensitive to criticism, and sometimes I even misunderstand things people say as hurtful even when they’re not meant that way.

When this builds up in a person, they start to develop a very strong defense reaction in order to prevent more pain. 

The only solution to this, honestly, is to work through the traumas that hurt you in the past

If this person is someone close to you, you could try asking them if they want to talk, and you might be able to help them yourself.

Approaching them with empathy and patience is key, understanding that they are experiencing very difficult feelings and that it will take them time to heal. 

Is someone close to you feeling insecure?

Now you know 9 signs that a person is insecure.

Do you recognize these signs in someone close to you? The best thing you can do for this person is show them lots of love, empathy, and compassion.

Insecurity is something a lot of people struggle with, but we all have our unique and priceless value. When we allow ourselves to see that, we can tap into it to make the world a better place

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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