Emotional insecurity is the general feeling of vulnerability experienced when a person finds an environment or situation threatening or unsafe. Insecurity brings about anxiety and triggers caution, in the hope that one may be shielded from a perceived threat. For example, Howard has an aversion to being in a room full of people because he is inclined to think that they are unfairly gossiping about him. Any limiting factor that keeps you from experiencing a constant flow of safety, serenity, and happiness is an indication of emotional insecurity. Feelings of anxiety, fear, and shame from time to time, can lower the quality of your life.
Emotional security is a condition in which a person’s level of happiness and safety is never altered by the dynamics in the person’s environment and the ups and downs of life circumstances. A secure person is not happy one moment and depressed the next, confident in one environment and timid in another, comfortable in one place and uneasy in another place. Such person experiences a constant flow of happiness, serenity, confidence, and sense of safety.
Common signs of emotional insecurity include depression, anxiety, guilt, paranoia, fear of rejection, fear of failure, social isolation, timidity, and despair. Other signs of emotional insecurity include rudeness, arrogance, aggression, envy, jealousy, resentment, apathy, and egocentrism.
A person with emotional insecurity tends to be on the lookout for threats, and may become anxious when they step out of their safe zone. Their desire to remain in the comfort/safe zone is responsible for most avoidance behaviors, such as stage fright, agoraphobia (fear of being in open space and among people), shyness, anxiety disorder, and so on. (It should be noted that some people may choose to isolate themselves not because they have an anxiety disorder but because they are introverts). It should also be noted that isolation can be caused by anxiety.
Emotional insecurity may lead to fear of failure, fear of rejection, low self-esteem, and inferiority complex. It can make a person isolate himself/herself out of the fear of being judged and rejected by others. It can also make another person unwilling to share their ideas in a discussion group out of the fear of appearing stupid.
Emotional insecurity can exist due to one of several factors. Our level of happiness is largely dependent on the love and respect of those around us, our economic stability, safety in our environment, and what impression we think other people have about us. A person feeling emotionally insecure tends to be pessimistic, uneasy, and apprehensive. He or she may sometimes think and feel in any of these ways.
- I cannot ace my upcoming examination because I am not a brilliant student
- I will make a terrible leader because I lack confidence
- If I don’t do something about my physical appearance, I will lose the love and respect of my friends
- I was promiscuous in the past. Although, I have since turned a new leaf, the memories of my past still haunt me every day.
- I am incompetent and weak, therefore I do not deserve the kindness and respect of other people.
- I was abused as a child. Ever since then, I feel insignificant and worthless
- I have a dirty secret, and I don’t want anyone to find out about it.
Emotional insecurity gives rise to defensiveness. A person who feels that his/her self-worth is under attack may become defensive in an effort to eliminate the threat. Such defensiveness could be shown in the form of arrogance, superiority, rudeness, gossip, or aggression. Feeling disrespected by other people can prompt you to be disrespectful towards these people because your self-worth has been diminished. And one way to nurse the pains of a wounded self-worth is to diminish the self-worth of other people; attacking other people’s self-worth then makes it easier for you to feel superior to them, and consequently more relieved. Although, this is an unhealthy and ill-advised way to cope with the insolence and transgressions of other people, it sure happens to be a common coping strategy that most people apply when dealing with people who wrong them.
The mere manifestation of arrogance, rudeness, or aggression is a reflection of an underlying emotional insecurity. A person who is emotionally secure will not be arrogant, because he/she does not feel the need to be defensive; he/she is not trying to cope with a wounded self-worth. We only get defensive when our self-worth has been questioned/wounded; and it is defensiveness which gives rise to discourtesy and contempt. Everyone is inescapably insecure; we do not live in a utopian, heaven-like world. However, the least insecure people are goal-driven and less invested in petty squabbles and superiority contest simply because they are too committed to their goals to expend their attention and energy on such trivial matters.