Managing Your Insecurities

How to manage your insecurities?

Most people admit that though they may recognize some of their strengths, they also harbor some feelings of insecurity, ineptness and /or lack of confidence about their talents, competence, habits or relationships. Though these humble declarations may endear them to others, it may concurrently evoke fear, shame or feelings of inferiority in the person declaring his/her situational ineptness. Emotional security is the optimal state of being that attracts others since it manifests one’s ability, stability, emotional health and leadership traits that others can rely on, learn from and emulate. We can gain the respect of others and preserve our dignity by learning to balance our strengths and weaknesses.

Freud advanced the theory that “separation of the infant from the mother can be traumatic, and understood as an early injury to the ego.” In “Attachment and Loss” Dr. John Bowlby stated, “The craving for distinction stems from a survival need.” These early crucial needs lead to the quest for recognition and the drive to please authority figures. We become insecure about our safety and wellbeing when evidence does not support our positive distinction.

From early childhood youngsters are aware of the breadth of individual differences within their peer group. Children notice who is more intelligent, attractive, knowledgeable, talented, popular or more highly regarded. Some youngsters label a particular child as “the teacher’s pet” or the “most popular, pretty, smart, or talented child in the class”. Creating this hierarchy often leaves some children feeling less well-regarded, less desirable or worthy than others. This pattern of ‘comparative assessment’ persists throughout life. We rate our minds, athleticism, attractiveness, competence, skills and appeal to others in determining our realistic expectations for rewards, success, recognition and love.

With this span of comparative analysis, it is easy to understand how one can doubt his/her worth, capabilities, knowledge or performance and inaccurately assess the satisfaction of his/her superiors. When competition is established and one feels lagging, his/her self-esteem may begin to crumble. Doubt and fear may hamper performance and the cycle of insecurity and shame may negatively impact one’s knowledge and competence.

Anna Ward, a doctoral candidate in Northcentral University researching self-esteem in the workplace recommended to doubting employees, “Stop your inner critic, use healthier motivational habits, write down three things you can appreciate about yourself, stop falling into the comparison trap, and spend more time with supportive people.”

Similar recommendations can be applied to all individuals who tend to rate themselves poorly about their social, recreational, interpersonal or marital relationships.

Manage your insecurities:

  • Accept that there are no ‘perfect’ employees, co-workers, spouses, parents, children, friends or neighbors.
  • Abstain from delving into your ‘faults and imperfections’ and redirect your thoughts to affirming your strengths, talents, competencies and achievements.
  • Validate your daily accomplishments at work and your positive relationships with your beloved spouse, children, parents, friends, neighbors, co-workers and bosses.
  • Recite your regular acts of kindness, charity and help to those in need to bolster your self-esteem.



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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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