Emotional insecurity

Emotional insecurity

Insecurity is a feeling of general unease or nervousness that may be triggered by perceiving oneself to be unloved, inadequate or worthless (whether in a rational or an irrational manner).

A person who is insecure lacks confidence in their own value and capability, trust in themselves or others, or has fears that a present positive state is temporary and will let them down and cause them loss or distress by "going wrong" in future.

This is not to be confused with humility, which involves recognising one's failings but still maintaining a healthy dose of self-confidence. Insecurity is not an objective evaluation of one's ability but an emotional interpretation, as two people with the same capabilities may have entirely different levels of insecurity.

Insecurity may cause shyness, paranoia and social withdrawal, or alternatively it may encourage compensatory behaviors such as arrogance, aggression, or bullying, a principle enshrined in the phrase "all bullies are cowards." Many people suffer a period of insecurity during puberty, which gives rise to a lot of the stereotypical behaviors of adolescents.

Insecurity has many effects in a person's life. There are several levels of it. It nearly always causes some degree of isolation as a typically insecure person withdraws themselves to some extent. The greater the insecurity, the higher the degree of isolation. Insecurity is often rooted in a person during their childhood years. Like offense and bitterness, it grows in layer fashion, often becoming an immobilising force that sets a limiting factor in the person's life. Insecurity robs by degrees - the degree it is entrenched is the degree of power it has in the person's life.

As insecurity can be distressing and feel threatening to the psyche, insecurity can often be accompanied by a controlling personality type or avoidance, as psychological defence mechanisms.

Insecurity can be overcome. It takes time and patience and a willingness to believe each person (and specifically oneself) is in fact of innate value. The first of Erikson's stages of psychosocial development details the challenge of finding security and learning to trust one's self and environment.


Insecurity can stem from the individual's immediate environment. People are not born insecure, it is a learned behaviour. From a young age people are told how to be and what to be. This is constantly emphasised and reinforced by forces within the family (parents, siblings, etc.) or outside forces (friends, mass media, and other variable parties).

The foundation for emotional security is laid very early in life and last for a lifetime. The years one to five being most crucial. The main determinants of the emotional security are immediate social environment, parents and siblings.The relationship between the parents and the interaction with parents and siblings lays the foundation stone the child's emotional state. Parental conflicts are the main cause of the emotional insecurity of children. Quarreling in the presence of children, abusing a child, having sex when the kids are watching, nagging, sarcasm, belittling the child, comparing with other children, all create emotional conflicts within the child.

The emotionally insecure child lacks in confidence and the ability to trust ones immediate environment. They may live in a perpetual state of anxiety, have difficulty in decision making, be unable to trust others, or be unable to delegate work. They may forgo opportunities in life. Rather than venturing into new territory, they always try to maintain "status quo".

See also

* Anxiety
* Uncertainty
* Confusion
* Jealousy

External links

* [http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/management/2007-01-31-insecure-ceos-usat_x.htm USA Today article about insecurity in CEOs]

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