The Most Common Causes of Insecurity and How to Overcome Them

There are many reasons why you may feel insecure: fear of failure, of being negatively valued or having little confidence in yourself. We suggest some strategies to make you feel more secure.
The Most Common Causes of Insecurity and How to Overcome Them

Written by Helena Sutachan

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Insecurity can have different origins. For example, you may feel secure in your intellectual abilities, but insecure about your social skills. Insecurity is also often manifested in behaviors such as excessive concern for physical appearance or for showing or hiding some particular personality trait.

All of us, at some point in our lives, will have experienced feelings of insecurity and lack of self-confidence. In this article, we’re going to talk about the most common causes of insecurity and propose some ideas to overcome it.

Causes of insecurity

Of course, everyone is different. We all have different personality traits, have undergone different experiences, and live in different social conditions. However, some of the most common causes of insecurity are as follows:

1. Insecurity due to fear of failure

Experiences of failure, especially recent situations, tend to negatively affect your self-confidence. Although everyone’s failed at some point and moments of rejection or loss are part of life, you’re not always in a position to manage them in the most constructive way.

As a rule, situations such as losing a job, a breakup, or an unexpected health problem often awaken feelings of failure and frustration in you.

The way in which your self-esteem is affected by circumstances like these causes you to start seeing yourself in a negative light. It also makes you imagine that other people are judging you with the same harshness and that they might even celebrate your defeats.

woman with doubts

2. Fear of negative feedback

Your insecurity may also be due to the fear of being evaluated in a negative way. For example, seeing yourself exposed or feeling that you may be the target of criticism or comments can make you feel anxious and, consequently, generate feelings of insecurity.

Much of this fear comes from negative experiences in your childhood or adolescence. For instance, if you were raised in an environment where abilities and grades were given a great deal of importance, you may have built excessively rigid and unattainable standards for measuring your own performance.

Similarly, the fear of negative evaluation causes you to cultivate negative beliefs about yourself and you focus on how you think others perceive you. This means you tend to have a vision of the world without nuances. In other words, you believe that things either go well or go badly. You see no middle ground and don’t allow yourself to even consider that certain things are beyond your control.

Finally, insecurity associated with the fear of negative judgments can lead to feelings of guilt and shame for not meeting your own demanding and, perhaps, unattainable standards. This will make you feel insecure and lack self-confidence because you’ll believe that you could always give more, that you could do better.

3. Self-confidence and perception of support

Feelings of insecurity often arise from the perception of having little support. That’s because feeling that you have effective support, whether emotional or material, is extremely important for your feelings of security and self-confidence.

If you’ve experienced situations in which you felt unsupported, that you were hanging by a thread and there was nothing and no one to cushion your fall, you may have seen your self-confidence diminish.

Feeling able to take risks, make brave decisions on important issues, or start over after a mistake are signs of having a secure personality and are closely related to the type of support (social, family, economic) that you have.

Sisters hugging

How to identify feelings of insecurity

Insecurity affects various areas of daily life but doesn’t manifest itself in the same way in everyone. Therefore, it’s useful to know the general signs of this condition and how to identify it.

  • Difficulty making decisions.
  • Need for constant external approval.
  • Fear of abandonment, rejection, and criticism.
  • Neophobia or fear of change, and difficulty adapting.
  • High self-demand and inflexibility.
  • Negative thoughts about yourself.
  • Difficulty with social relationships.
  • Feelings of envy and jealousy.
  • Low tolerance to frustration.
  • Inhibition when communicating your own needs and emotions.

How can you gain security?

Taking into account that, in most cases, there’s no single cause or variable that causes insecurity, here are a list of strategies to help you gain confidence.

  • First of all, work on your self-esteem. Be kind and patient with yourself. Try to take control of your inner speech.
  • Learn to take advantage of criticism. In fact, turn it into information to help you grow.
  • Try not to let social reinforcement become your main motivation.
  • Celebrate and share the objectives you achieve.
  • Reconcile with your past self. Accept your mistakes and leave them behind. Remember, they don’t define you.
  • Accept and acknowledge that you’re not perfect. You don’t have to be, nobody is. Allow yourself to explore your interests and reconnect with your curiosity.
  • Identify and evaluate what you can control and what you can’t. Bear in mind that any results also depend on external factors and not only on your commitment or effort.
  • Look for support from your loved ones and in the people you trust the most. Perhaps, if you ask for help, you’ll realize that there are many people around you willing to support you in everything you need.

Professional help

A generalized and intense kind of insecurity greatly impedes proper functioning in daily life, as well as the achievement of happiness. That’s why asking for professional help can be really helpful for some people.

In therapy, techniques and exercises are used to redefine self-image and self-concept. Cognitive restructuring and strategies are also used to acquire an assertive communication style, as well as to improve social skills.

As you can see, you can take measures to reduce your feelings of insecurity. Putting them into practice will mean you’ll become more confident, take on more challenges, grow in more directions, and enrich your life in the way you really want.


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.

  • González, M.A., Meline, M.C., Campano, C.C., Valdés, A.C., & Muñoz, H.M. (2016). Autoconfianza y prueba de selección universitaria de lenguaje y comunicación en Chile.
  • Rees, T. & Freeman, P. (2007) The effects of perceived and received support on self-confidence, Journal of Sports Sciences, 25:9, 1057-1065, DOI: 10.1080/02640410600982279

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