How to Help an Insecure Person

When insecurity becomes a personality trait, the person experiences discomfort and suffering. Here's how to help them get over it.
How to Help an Insecure Person

Last update: 21 June, 2022

All of us, at some point in our lives, have felt insecure. Especially when we’re faced with challenging situations. However, in some people, insecurity is a part of their personality, which causes them a great deal of discomfort.

Therefore, if you recognize this trait in a loved one, it’s important that you know how to support them. In this article, we’ll take a look at the best way to help an insecure person.

Characteristics of an insecure person

According to the American Psychological Association, insecurity is a feeling of inadequacy, lack of self-confidence, and an inability to cope with various situations.

As a rule, insecure people don’t feel capable and are afraid that others will judge them or discover all of their weaknesses. This promotes states of shyness, paranoia, or social isolation.

On the other hand, insecurity can lead to compensatory behaviors such as aggressiveness, arrogance, or narcissism. In these cases, insecure people might be really critical of others or make fun of them to put them down. In fact, emphasizing the defects of others becomes a failed attempt at raising their own self-esteem.

Man's hands showing his insecurity.
Insecure people tend to have many doubts, both about how to act and about themselves.

How to help an insecure person

If you recognize these characteristics in a friend, partner, or family member, you should, ideally, know how to support them. Below are some strategies to help.

1. Be empathic

Being empathetic means identifying the feelings and thoughts of others, and experiencing them as if they were your own. In other words, it involves putting yourself in the place of the other in order to genuinely understand them.

That said, if you want to help an insecure person, the first thing you need to do is understand their situation. To do this, you should try and understand where their insecurities come from. In general, the trait of insecurity tends to develop in the first years of life, especially when bonding with primary caregivers.

Therefore, you could try asking the person what their childhood and adolescence were like. Talking about it will not only help you to understand, but they’ll also be able to understand where this trait of theirs originated.

In addition, you must avoid judging or criticizing them. Insecure people place an excessive value on the opinion of others so, ideally, you should be in tune with their feelings and thoughts. Make sure you listen carefully and show interest in their problems.

2. Ask how you can help

You may well have the best intentions, but if they don’t correspond to what the insecure person needs, then you won’t really be helping them. It’s best to ask them how you can support them.

Sometimes, they may simply want you to listen to them. Or, they might want to express themselves in another way or need you to do something small to help them. This is what empathy is all about, recognizing what the other person needs at any given time.

3. Recognize their insecurities

This doesn’t suggest you should put up with their complaints about your own complexes or shortcomings. It means asking them to tell you what’s bothering them, how they feel, and who they think are criticizing them. This will also help you understand their situation.

Take time to listen to their response and support them. They may say that they feel anxious about work, school, or their physical appearance. The important thing is to listen and be open to what they say.

Ideally, you should find out what’s worrying them and analyze, together, what’s real and what’s not. As a rule, insecure people believe that others speak ill of them, or that they’re not capable enough to face certain situations. However, in reality, this isn’t the case. When this happens, they’re experiencing paranoid ideas. Therefore, it’s important that you make them understand that they’re not true.

4. Highlight their strengths

Another way to help an insecure person is by making them see their positive qualities. In fact, they’re often really critical of themselves and find themselves blinded by negativity bias. Your task is to show them all their talents and abilities. By doing this, you’ll help them build feelings of security and self-confidence.

5. Model self-compassion

Self-compassion means being kind to ourselves, not punishing ourselves for our past decisions. After all, we’re only human and we make mistakes. Nevertheless, insecure people tend to be obsessed with perfectionism. In other words, they want to do everything to the best of their ability. If they don’t, they feel worthless.

The problem is that they never reach perfection and they get frustrated. This causes their self-esteem to sink even further. Therefore, you must let them know that nobody’s perfect and even great achievers make mistakes.

Help them be aware that making mistakes is an important process in life, as it allows us to learn and develop personally. You might want to give them examples of mistakes you’ve made in your life that have taught you lessons. The kinds of mistakes that, if you hadn’t experienced them, you wouldn’t be where you are today.

6. Be patient

If you want to help an insecure person, it’s important to cultivate patience. This is because it’s likely that they’ll start to complain about what they think is happening to them and express a series of biased thoughts. For example, that they’re worthless or useless etc. In addition, they may defend themselves with hurtful comments or negative criticism toward you.

Whatever their attitude, you must be patient and understand that it’s due to their personal functioning. This may be the hardest part, but if you give up the first time, you won’t ever be able to help them.

Woman comforting her partner
Understanding how the insecure person works will help you know how to act with them.

7. Encourage them to seek professional help

As much as you want to help an insecure person, sometimes your efforts aren’t enough. Indeed, many people have these traits so ingrained in them that they require a therapist to overcome them. A mental health specialist is best suited to address these types of issues.

Try and make them see that they shouldn’t view therapy as an obligation. Introduce them to its benefits and how it’ll help reduce their feelings of discomfort.

Finally, we must emphasize that helping an insecure person is often no easy task. Especially if they’re reluctant to accept any help. However, it’s not impossible. Remember, the support of their environment is vital for them to overcome their problems.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.