While we might project an air of confidence, everyone has had their moments in life when they felt unsure about themselves. We know ourselves and the areas where we struggle, so even though others have confidence in us and our abilities, it’s not uncommon to have a moment or two of hesitation when we consider a complicated situation.
There is nothing wrong with feeling unsure or having some doubts about our capacities. Sometimes it’s necessary to help us avoid having an overinflated ego, and it can prevent us from being cavalier when caution is required. On the other hand, too much uncertainty and doubt can paralyze you and render you ineffective in whatever you’re trying to do. Being able to handle your doubts and insecurities is a valuable skill in life and for the sake of your relationships.
What are insecurities, and why do we have them?
Insecurities are those areas in your life where you feel a sense of inadequacy or have feelings that you’re not good enough. Insecurity can speak to the sense or idea that you’re not worthy, valuable, or capable. Insecurities often erode self-confidence.
The effect that insecurities have is to make you feel uncertain about yourself and the situation that you’re in. You can begin to ask yourself questions such as “Can I handle it and accomplish my goals?” or “Should I even be here?”
Insecurities can stem from a variety of sources, and they sometimes operate in specific circumstances. For instance, a person may be confident in their personal relationships, but find themselves feeling uncertain and insecure about their value and worth in a professional setting.
Some insecurities may result from previous unpleasant experiences calling one’s competence into question. For instance, if in a professional setting, you’ve been embarrassed or fallen short somehow, that can undermine your confidence in that setting. Similarly, if there’s been a pattern of negative previous experiences in romantic relationships, that can breed insecurities about those kinds of relationships.
Within relationships, insecurities may also stem from the sort of attachments one makes or fails to make in early life. Attachment and attachment style relate to the patterns of behavior and quality of relationship one has with at least one parent or primary caregiver, and upon which normal social and emotional development rest.If a person has a secure attachment, that sets the stage for healthy relationship patterns in adulthood. Those with an anxious attachment may be marked by fear of abandonment and deep insecurity about their relationships.
Typically, if one’s parents or caregivers are emotionally and/or physically unavailable or unsupportive, that can result in a child developing a negative self-image and being maladjusted in later life. Other significant relationships such as friendships or romantic relationships can also influence one’s attachment style. Other types of attachment such as avoidant and fearful-avoidant attachment similarly lead to deep insecurities within relationships.
Other reasons why people develop insecurities include the following:
- A traumatic event.
- Social conditioning within their environment, such as societal beauty standards that shape self-perception.
- General uncertainty and instability in one’s life, which upsets the expectation of predictability in one’s routines and the resources available to them.
While insecurities can be traced to these proximate causes, it’s also true that being insecure may not always have a definitive external cause.
Types of insecurities in a relationship.
In a relationship such as a romantic relationship, one type of insecurity a person can experience is linked to their body image. We are constantly bombarded by billboards, magazine covers, movies, commercials, television shows, and social media that present images of what our bodies should look like and be able to do. This ideal is something few people can attain, and even then, they feel the pressure to maintain a particular body type.
Insecurities can set in as people question if they measure up to that ideal. This can happen as people grow older, but it can also happen because of weight gain, experiencing a body-altering injury, or the changes brought on by pregnancy and its aftermath.
Other types of insecurities in a relationship include:
Insecurity about provision.
Fear can mushroom around whether one can provide financially, and this can happen during hard economic times or when one is experiencing job stress
Insecurity about whether you’ll be or are a good parent.
Prospective and current parents can feel inadequate, perhaps due to negative past experiences
Insecurity about fulfilling a legacy.
Children can feel pressure about living up to a legacy or particular family expectations. If it feels like acceptance and celebration within the family are predicated upon living up to those expectations, it can breed insecurity. If the family legacy is daunting, one can feel insecure about their capacity to live up to it.
In a romantic relationship, insecurity may develop as the result of an occurrence such as an affair. This can shake the relationship to its core, undermining trust and the sense of stability and certainty. One can feel insecure about the future of the relationship.
Managing insecurities in a relationship.
To begin facing your insecurities requires that you acknowledge the shape of those insecurities. Often, people carry unnamed burdens throughout their lives, or they operate under the assumption that what they’re feeling is normal and the way things ought to be. Either way, they carry a burden they need not carry. That burden can and should be named and unloaded.
One way to manage insecurities is to develop a wide and deep network of friendships and connections. Having a significant social network helps you in several ways, including as a coping strategy to deal with stress as well as being a space in which to cultivate tools to develop confidence in your relationships.
Meaningful relationships provide you with opportunities to extend trust and accept the love of other people. Insecure people tend to distrust affection from others, and this can eventually become self-fulfilling. You can wisely and slowly build up your ability to trust others within your social network.
Another part of managing your insecurities is to work on your self-esteem. By learning to value yourself and to see the worth you have as a beautiful creation that’s been fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Psalm 139), you can begin to turn the tide. If this step is too hard to take, you can work on being neutral and tolerant toward yourself. Be gentle with yourself.
The role of counseling.
Individual and couples counseling have a significant role to play in helping a person overcome insecurities. Insecurities may be standing in the way of cultivating a community of support, in which case you can turn to a professional such as a Christian counselor. A counselor can help you in a variety of ways, including the following:
- Your counselor is a safe space for you to unpack your insecurities and feel heard. Counseling can help you understand your attachment style and the wounds that may lie behind your insecurities.
- Due to their training, your counselor can help you by exposing falsehoods and unhealthy patterns of behavior that feed your insecurities. Not only that, but they can help you become more aware of what your real needs and desires are in your relationships. They can help you figure out how to become more secure in your relationships, for instance by being assertive and learning how to set boundaries.
- They can help you to embrace what you may view as weaknesses as opportunities for growth. Sometimes insecurity is born from a lack of know-how. Learning how to do some things better can help boost your confidence.
- Your counselor can help you in developing good communication skills so that you can express your needs and assert your boundaries effectively.
- Lastly, your counselor can walk with you as you cultivate self-esteem rooted in a godly mindset.
Insecurity in relationships can undermine your full flourishing, but those insecurities can be managed effectively and overcome. Don’t be afraid to seek help in the form of counseling to overcome your insecurities. It will promote the health of your relationship and give you peace of mind.
Connect with our office today to schedule an appointment with me or another Christian counselor who can help.
“Prove Them Wrong”, Courtesy of Daniel Minarik, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Courage”, Courtesy of Michael Dziedzic, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Fear is Dead”, Courtesy of Jon Tyson, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Friends in a Field”, Courtesy of Melissa Askew, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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