Science behind insecurities

October 6, 2021

Insecurities are the lack of confidence around the ways one looks and the behaviors one exhibits. Insecurities sneak themselves into our lives in many different ways regardless of one’s self-esteem. They cause a lack of confidence, feelings of self-doubt, unworthiness, and inadequacy. They can turn fears into social anxiety, and cause an overall feeling of unhappiness. Insecurities look different for everyone, but where do they come from?

People learn how they should behave from childhood experiences. Family dynamics and relationships often dictate the habits ingrained in us. A common example is academic pressure. Imagine growing up in a family that holds high standards for academic achievements. It would be probable that a child in this family then acquires feelings of unworthiness or self-doubt when they don’t (or think they don’t) reach those standards. Relationships often play a big role in who we are, and how we feel.

High standards proliferate as perfectionism: never accepting anything short of the standards. Feelings of constant disappointment (internal or external) or self-evaluation can lead to mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or eating disorders.

Social anxiety is often coupled with insecurities. The fear of being judged or evaluated by peers makes many people nervous or uncomfortable in social settings.

I think people are just afraid to make mistakes”

— Junior Finn Sullivan

“I think people are just afraid to make mistakes,” junior Finn Sullivan said.

Social anxiety can also construct fears of not being good enough, pretty enough, likable, worthy, etc. These types of insecurities might come from past relationships, judgy friends, social media, or comparison.

“I feel like insecurities can come from other people like sometimes their own insecurities can project onto you,” junior Lucy Murray said. Oftentimes people’s actions reflect their own insecurities, sort of as a defense mechanism. “I think a lot of people are insecure, they are just good at hiding them,” said Murray. Blaming, or taking things out on other people is a common way of avoiding uncomfortable feelings. Finding flaws in other people, for example, is an easy way to hide our own insecurities, which reinforces an ‘it’s your fault not mine’ attitude.

Like any insecurity, the fear of not being good enough can not only have impacts on self-esteem but also on external relationships. Trust issues (for example) can develop into insecurity, which in return can make a toxic connection to relationships, and make one feel insecure when trust is taken away.

Insecurities are common but nonetheless strenuous. They can be difficult to manage and spot within ourselves, and even more difficult to confront.

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