Sometimes, insecurity is obvious.
That guy who can’t stop boasting at a party? That’s insecurity speaking.
The woman who keeps putting other people down just to feel better about herself? Yep, she’s insecure.
However, not everyone can hide insecurity behind a strong mask of confidence. Many insecure people show their true doubts and worries in nothing but hints and subtleties.
Want to know the 8 subtle behaviors of people who secretly feel insecure?
Let’s jump in!
1) They nod along to everything you say
Firstly, a big sign someone is secretly insecure is that they don’t dare contradict you – even if their opinion differs from yours.
This behavior is very subtle because oftentimes, you won’t even realize the person you’re talking to disagrees with you. They’ll put on such a good show that you’ll think they are completely on your side as they support all your claims with nods and positive exclamations.
“That’s so true because…”
“I never thought about it that way but you’re right…”
“Yes, and also…”
Quiet agreements – such as “hmm, yes” and “interesting” – also go a long way.
The reason insecure people resort to this behavior is that they don’t possess enough confidence to face conflict head-on and argue their point, so they just prefer to go with the flow – even though this behavior ultimately stands in the way of forming a genuine connection.
2) They will do you one favor after another and wave it off as “no big deal”
Insecure people tend to have one thing in common: they can’t find it within themselves to validate their own sense of significance, and so they seek it externally.
This manifests in a multitude of behaviors, including people-pleasing. The more people like them, the better – it means that they’re doing something right after all, that they get to earn love, and therefore gain in importance.
People pleasers will bend over backward to receive positive energy from others – at their own peril.
If you ask them whether they can cover your shift tomorrow, they’ll say yes even if it’s actually very inconvenient for them.
If you want to reschedule the Friday dinner, they’ll say it’s no problem although it now means they have to reorganize all their plans.
And if you need them to come to yours immediately and watch a movie with you because you’re feeling a bit sad, they’ll give you their time and energy despite the fact they really need to get some work done.
They will always prioritize other people’s needs above their own because the desire to be liked is bigger than the importance of personal well-being.
3) They play the game of social media highlights
Seeking external validation has never been easier. Nowadays, all you have to do is post a picture of yourself doing something cool online, and the number of likes will provide a nice little dopamine boost.
This is why many insecure people tend to post snippets of their lives online, pretending that they live in a movie where nothing bad ever happens.
That cool hipster bar that’s just opened up? They’ll go there just to show the world of social media that they frequent the best places in town.
That person who has a lot of followers? They’ll do their best to befriend them so that they can bask in their light and improve their own social standing.
Even though lying in bed and reading a nice book is what they’d really like to do, they’ll agree to attend an event they have no interest in just because it’d look more exciting on their feed.
They live their lives for others, not for themselves.
4) They humblebrag
Bragging is loud. Humblebragging, though? Not so much. It can actually be quite subtle.
Humblebragging is essentially bringing attention to one’s impressive qualities by putting yourself down. It sounds like an oxymoron, but it actually works quite well in practice.
“I can’t believe I won that award, I think I was just lucky!”
“It wasn’t that big of an event, there were only a few celebrities.”
“It’s really exhausting being such an overachiever.”
“I got an A on the exam, but it’s not that big a deal. Chemistry just comes naturally to me.”
See? Bragging of this kind is much more difficult to pinpoint because it’s such an interesting mix of bragging and self-depreciation that you’re never quite sure what the person’s true intentions are.
5) They chase perfection
An insecure person might be so dissatisfied with themselves that they’ll chase perfection in order to compensate for the lack of confidence.
If you get enough awards, maybe you’ll finally prove to yourself you’re worthy of love.
If you only have straight As, you’ll see that maybe – just and only maybe – you’re smart enough.
You collect external accomplishments like badges of honor, racing against time, your past self, and other people. And somehow, it just never seems like enough.
Yep, that sounds a lot like insecurity.
6) They are competitive
This brings us to the next point – competitiveness.
The truth is that genuinely confident people rarely feel the need to compete with others. They are on their own timeline, pushing their own limits, and every time someone else achieves success, they offer nothing but support.
An insecure person struggles to feel truly happy for others because they view other people’s successes as further proof that they are not good enough.
This pushes them to work harder, be better, strive higher – and while those are all great things, they don’t come from a genuine place of love and joy. They’re based on bitterness and grudge.
If this sounds like you, know that you are not alone in feeling this way, and remember that anger or self-hatred won’t get you there. It all starts with self-compassion.
7) They don’t react well to negative feedback
No one likes criticism. But what separates secure people from insecure ones is how they deal with those feelings.
While a confident person understands that negative feedback is important in order for them to grow and become better, someone who doesn’t believe in themselves will either get defensive and refuse to hear it or will crumble under all that weight and drown in misery.
It’s important to keep in mind that you are not just your weaknesses – you are so much more.
If someone points out that you’re too impatient or self-centered, for example, they aren’t saying you’re a bad person. They’re just talking about specific traits that can be changed over time.
8) They say “sorry” all the time (or never at all)
Insecurity usually manifests on two opposite sides of the spectrum.
Either you apologize for every little thing you do, or you don’t apologize at all because saying sorry would mean accepting you did something wrong, which would in turn make you feel even worse about yourself.
Both aren’t great. The right approach is somewhere in the middle – say “sorry” when the situation truly calls for it, but don’t overuse it and don’t avoid it.
It’s okay to admit you were wrong. It doesn’t mean you’re evil. It means you’re human.