Insecurity is a common emotion that’s associated with a lack of self-esteem.
Maybe you’re a woman who feels like you’re battling with insecurity, or perhaps your partner or friend seems to be insecure, and you want to understand why.
There are many reasons for it: here are 10 that cause women to face this emotion.
1) Trying to meet a beauty standard
There’s so much pressure on women to look and be a certain way in the world.
Historically, the value of women has been intrinsically linked to their physical appearance.
The most beautiful women are some of the most celebrated; take Marilyn Monroe as an example.
Even if a woman tries to push back against this societal standard, the conditioning runs so deep that it affects her on some level.
Trying to meet a beauty standard can make a woman feel incredibly insecure, as she compares herself to others continuously.
This could include comparing herself to adverts, social media, and friends. The opportunities for comparison today are endless!
Unfortunately, the pressure of trying to meet a beauty standard and overcome insecurities leads some women to making changes to their appearance. This is where surgery like botox and lip fillers come in…
Women who choose to make these changes to their appearances do so because they’re trying to get rid of their insecurities.
They think that they wouldn’t have so many insecurities if their lips were just a bit bigger or their teeth were a bit straighter, but that’s not true!
Feeling good about yourself comes from within.
2) The need to be a perfectionist
Another pressure women are faced with is to be perfect in everything they do.
This comes back to the beauty standard.
There is a societal pressure that successful women need to have it all – the body, the job, the partner, the home, the kids, and the list goes on.
The woman who is the ‘full package’ is supposed to be all of these things.
Not only is she smart, but she can bake a mean loaf while she’s also got the most toned stomach you’ve ever seen.
A widespread, unattainable standard of perfectionism can cause insecurity to run deep in women. It can cause a feeling of being ‘less than’ if things aren’t perfect.
But here’s the thing: perfectionism is a ruse.
It’s impossible to be perfect! If you really think about it, what does it mean to be perfect? Who is setting this standard?
Women will continue to feel insecure about who they are if they’re constantly judging themselves against a standard of perfectionism that literally isn’t real.
The best thing a woman can do is to be herself and to work on being the best version of herself.
3) Comparison to other women
Since when was comparison ever a good idea?
I’ve been guilty of comparing myself to other women – whether it’s someone I see in the street or someone I stumble across on social media.
My day could be going just fine and then I see a chic, beautiful woman and think I look crap.
On the other hand, I can judge myself against other women and think I look better than them, which in turn makes me feel good for a brief moment.
Neither are good; they both come back to comparison.
It’s an unhealthy way of existing in the world, but it’s what women have been taught to do in the patriarchal system. We’ve been taught to compete with each other and break the next person down in order to get up!
But comparison just breeds insecurities.
Instead of letting the mind go to this place, women need to make a point of getting in control of these unhelpful thoughts.
If you think about it: comparison will literally just go on forever and ever if you don’t get a handle on it.
You could spend your whole life looking at other people and judging yourself against them. There are enough people to do this forever!
If a woman wants to be free of insecure thoughts, the only person she should compete with is herself on her journey to being the best version of herself.
4) Not feeling smart enough
A woman might feel insecure because she doesn’t feel smart enough.
Someone might have made a comment in the past or even a teacher might have said something that’s stuck with her.
For example, someone could have said: ‘you don’t know how to spell that?’ and implied she was stupid.
There could be numerous reasons why a woman doesn’t feel smart enough and it can lead to feeling incredibly insecure about her intellect.
However, not feeling enough in any area is symptomatic of a low self-esteem.
If a woman doesn’t feel like she’s smart enough, and she makes this insecurity known, it suggests that she doesn’t feel good about herself more broadly.
It points to insecurities running deep in all areas of her life.
If a woman recognizes that she struggles with the insecurity of not feeling enough, the best thing she should do is to reach out to someone who can help her get a perspective on her thoughts.
5) A lack of self-love
If a woman has a lack of self-love, it can manifest as feeling like she doesn’t deserve things in life, including love from another person.
A lack of self-love can be a vicious circle that causes her to spiral. While she’ll crave the love she doesn’t give herself, she won’t feel worthy of it when she gets it.
A lack of self-love will affect a woman’s entire outlook and cause her to feel insecure.
I have a friend who had such a negative relationship with herself for years and her lack of self-love manifested as feeling like she wasn’t deserving of any of life’s goodness, including a healthy relationship.
I could see how insecure she was in herself because she didn’t have a foundation of self-love.
But this changed when she put the work in to make positive changes in her life.
She started to big herself up and focus on all of her positive traits – and a shift happened.
You see, when a woman has a lot of love for herself, she’s in her power and radiant. Her self-love can be felt by others.
6) A lack of trust in someone else
A woman can feel insecure because she lacks trust in someone else.
If a woman feels like she has a reason to not trust another person – be it a friend or romantic partner – this can manifest as being insecure.
Let’s take a romantic partner:
A woman might worry her partner has eyes for other people. This is a valid worry, but what’s important is to consider whether this insecurity is valid.
It needs to be interrogated.
By this, I mean a woman needs to look at what evidence she has to feel like this.
Having a lack of trust in people is something I’ve dealt with in my adult life, and it’s shown up in my romantic relationships.
You see, I’ve grown up with my dad looking at other women incessantly – almost to the point of making me feel invisible while wanting his attention – and it’s cemented the belief that all men look at women without any restraint.
I’ve unfortunately carried this forward into my relationships, and ended up accusing all of my boyfriends of having wandering eyes.
It’s caused so many confrontations because they’ve said they haven’t been doing something that I’ve been sure to have seen.
I’ve literally convinced myself of this so many times.
It doesn’t matter where your lack of trust in other people comes from, but what’s important is that you recognize it and let it go so you don’t carry this insecurity forward in your life.
7) Negative past experiences
A big reason for a woman to have insecurities is negative past experiences.
This could have been something that was said to her on the playground or an action by an ex-partner.
It could be trauma with a small ‘T’ or trauma with a big ‘T’, which is to say it could be something that was just slightly or incredibly traumatic.
She might have been burned by something that happened in the past and it’s put her on high alert.
You see, negative past experiences can fester and stick around with us if left undealt with. These become what’s called ‘emotional baggage’.
This baggage can manifest in unfortunate ways in relationships throughout our lives and how we navigate the world – if we don’t acknowledge it and release it.
It’s a big reason why someone might feel insecure.
A woman can start to work through negative past experiences by first acknowledging her situation and committing to talking to someone regularly, who can hold space for her.
8) Having a critical parent
I touched on the significance of how a parent can cause insecurity earlier in the article; now I want to focus specifically on how having a critical parent can cause insecurity in a woman.
Let’s say a woman has grown up with a parent that’s always said they’re not good enough or they’ve always highlighted their shortcomings.
Maybe she was told that she was a failure because she didn’t make the first team for her chosen sport, or maybe she was called ugly when she experimented with different hairstyles in her teens.
She’ll carry this through her adult life.
Truth is, what’s expressed to us in our formative years is hard to shake off.
Simply put: negative comments from someone as significant as a parent, who a child seeks approval from, will inform how a person sees the world.
Even if the parent has made a comment in a semi-serious way, it will still stick around and plant the seed of insecurity.
I remember my mum telling me I looked like a bull because I got my nose pierced as a teenager. I was simply expressing myself and finding my identity, but this comment made me think I should take it out and stay in line with the beauty standard.
In making that comment, she made me feel like I shouldn’t seek to stand out in any way and seek to look palatable and pretty.
Her criticism stayed with me long after the event.
Comments like this from a critical parent have the potential to cause many long-term insecurities in women.
9) A setback in life
Life is full of hiccups and setbacks – small and big.
There’s getting fired from a job, getting negative feedback on something you’ve done, the breakdown of a relationship and so on.
These can all cause a woman to become highly insecure and unsure about herself.
They might cause her to think that things can’t seem to go right and she might even find herself affirming that nothing goes her way in life.
When things go wrong in life, it can cause someone to feel like a massive failure and insecure in themselves.
But here’s the thing: setbacks do happen, so it’s all about perspective.
A woman can combat feelings of insecurity by changing her perspective to see setbacks as a chance to rethink and reframe things.
Rather than quantifying things as good and bad, a woman can benefit from seeing setbacks as new opportunities.
10) Being exposed to infidelity in her family
You’ll see a pattern here with insecurity: a lot of it comes back to childhood.
If a woman comes from a solid family unit – where her parents haven’t cheated on one another, or she’s never been exposed to tales of infidelity – it’s less likely she’ll be insecure about it happening.
On the other hand, if a woman has been exposed to infidelity then she’s likely insecure about it repeating in her relationship.
Now, this is something I have personal experience with: my mum cheated on my dad and left him for another man, so I know what people are capable of.
Even though I’ve always said that it hasn’t affected me, I can see that it has made me more anxious and insecure than some of my friends.
So, if you’re a woman who’s also been exposed to infidelity (or if you know your partner or friend has been), the best way to navigate this is with compassion.
There needs to be an emphasis on compassion and understanding of the situation. Knowing that a person is capable of doing that imprints on the subconscious – whether or not the person thinks it has affected them.
Seeing the situation from a compassionate place, you’ll be able to see where the insecurity comes from.
Acknowledgment is the first step to letting go of it for good!