We all have hidden insecurities, some of us more than others.
There are many ways this can manifest:
Becoming aware of the signs of hidden insecurity can help you face these issues in yourself and notice them in others.
This isn’t about judging, it’s about becoming more conscious and self-aware.
As you notice your own hidden insecurities and those of others you can begin reducing the behavior itself and tackling the roots of the behavior.
Let’s dive in.
1) Trying hard to get attention online and IRL
When you seek attention online or in real life (IRL), it usually means you have hidden insecurities.
You want to be told that you matter and that you’re seen.
This can extend to even starting fights or arguments just so people acknowledge your existence.
What to do about it: Increase the time you spend outside or being active and decrease the time you spend seeking attention or on social media. Give attention more than you seek it.
2) Asking if somebody’s heard you over and over
I myself am very guilty of this, and often ask if somebody has heard me when I say something and they don’t respond right away.
This betrays an insecurity about being misunderstood or abandoned.
It’s the inner child asking if their guardian figure is still there, still cares about them.
It’s a sign that there’s still growing up to do and a need to build more trust in others.
What to do about it: Give people the benefit of the doubt. Let them ask you to repeat yourself if they didn’t hear you.
3) Saying sorry habitually for no good reason
This is a habit I used to engage in constantly, apologizing for no reason.
The word “sorry” can become a filler and be sprinkled into so many phrases it becomes almost meaningless.
At that point it becomes more of saying sorry just to make everything being said fuzzier and more polite, which is often unhelpful and sometimes inauthentic (“nice guy syndrome”).
What to do about it: Stop saying sorry so much. Don’t apologize unless there’s a real reason to do so.
4) Adding qualifier words to almost every sentence
Qualifier words are another issue that crops up.
These are words like “maybe,” “I guess,” “kinda,” “sorta” and “dunno.”
They show a lack of confidence and a tendency to doubt yourself.
What to do about it: Become aware of how much you’re adding qualifiers and stop doing it unless necessary.
5) Joking about everything, even serious subjects
The class clown is often crying inside.
When you joke about everything, even serious subjects, it usually shows that you’re repressing difficult experiences.
This is harmful, because it can lead to blocking out and denying the whole half of life that bothers you and missing out on potential opportunities and valuable experiences you could have on that side of life.
What to do about it: Humor can be a great way to express yourself, but try to stay sincere and straightforward sometimes, especially about serious subjects.
6) Using sarcasm as a shield from expressing deep emotions
Sarcasm is another form of joking or put-downs that can be used to hide from or deny pain.
Being a sarcastic person is great, and I like dry and sarcastic humor.
But when people are overly sarcastic it usually shows that they haven’t faced their own shadow or are in denial about the harder side of life.
What to do about it: Moderate your use of sarcasm. If you get the feeling you’re using it as a shield, reduce how sarcastic you are.
7) Mentioning credentials and accomplishments a lot
I’ve been around people in the past who dropped credentials a lot.
It’s actually kind of embarrassing.
Now and then mentioning your degrees or accomplishments is absolutely appropriate, especially in a description of yourself on an official site or at a conference, for example.
But people who pepper it into any conversation usually come across as insecure and seeking validation.
If you sometimes do it, think about why you want this validation.
What to do about it: Let your credentials speak for themselves. You don’t need to prove yourself to anybody, nor do you need anyone to approve of you or be impressed by you.
8) Avoiding risk-taking and trying to play it safe
If you tend to play it safe, you’re not alone.
Life is full of danger.
But if you don’t take a chance now and then, you won’t be able to shake things up and make a change.
There is no way to lock in a safe and predictable life, even if you follow all the rules.
What to do about it: Start by taking small risks and work your way up to bigger ones. Do your due diligence but realize that life will always entail some element of risk.
9) Chasing material success as a way to feel fulfilled
Growing up I was always so confused by celebrities or the ultra wealthy who became very depressed or mentally unstable.
They had it all, why were they so blue?
Reading and learning more since then has given me the answer:
Far too many put the cart before the horse and chased material success and the adoration of others as a way to feel fulfilled.
It didn’t work and they were left to feel even more desperate with the same basic questions:
“Why am I here?”
“Why do I feel so alone?”
What to do about it: Begin using your material success as a means to do more rather than have more. Use your money and possessions to make changes in your life and the life of others rather than to let money sit in an account or let possessions collect in a living room.
10) Pursuing spiritual ‘purity’ in an attempt to become ‘healed’
I know many people who are obsessed with the idea of “healing” from past trauma, and “healing” their anxiety and “healing” their pain.
I appreciate that society now sees mental and emotional struggle as important and real, but I do think this search to “heal” and become “pure” can create a cycle of unworthiness.
It makes us feel broken and always searching to be better or more enlightened, and the truth is that painful experiences and trauma are part of life and part of us rather than something we transcend or “clear.”
What to do about it: Own all your emotions and stop thinking of some as “unclean” or “bad.” Work on becoming more authentic and honest with yourself rather than the idea of purity or an ideal set by a guru or leader.
11) Putting other people down even when there’s no reason to
I’ve also engaged in this, I’m not proud to say:
Putting others down with mean comments or cutting critiques for no real reason. Just because I could.
I felt bad after, but reflecting on it I’ve come to realize that nobody who’s feeling OK about themselves really does this kind of thing.
It’s done by those who feel like crap or have hidden insecurities that are plaguing them about their worthiness and value.
What to do about it: Practice complimenting people even when there’s no reason to do so. Brighten up somebody’s day just because you can.
The journey from insecure to secure
The above behaviors that show hidden insecurities are nothing to be ashamed about.
Like I said, we all have things we’re insecure about and behaviors we do that show it.
But by becoming more aware of these things and following the advice I include in each item, we can all become much more secure. This allows us to face life on our own terms without self-sabotage.