The Psychology of Insecurity

Written on May 28, 2009. Written by .

Feelings of insecurity arise from a lack of control and confidence. When you have control of a situation, you aren’t so likely to get upset. If someone is giving you a hard time, you can just utilize your power to deal with it. But if you are relying on the cooperation of others in a way that you cannot effectively enforce, it can be very frustrating.

In a relationship, you can never guarantee that your partner won’t leave you, so there is a lack of control that can often lead to insecurity. This is why jealousy in relationships is so often a source of troubles. Even when the concern is rationally justified, the jealous partner often responds in an irrational way due to their insecurity.

When you have a large degree of confidence in something, it is less upsetting when someone disagrees with you. Even if you do get into an argument about something you are confident in, it probably won’t make you feel too disturbed and upset. Instead, you will probably just laugh when you hear something that you confidently know to be wrong. On the other hand, when you have a belief, but you are very unsure about it, you will more easily get agitated and defensive when people challenge you on that belief.

Once during a philosophical conversation, I told a religious believer that I did not respect her beliefs as much as my own because I thought hers were irrational. Logically, this should have been obvious already because it was already established that I was an atheist and of course I am not going to respect what I view as psychological distortion as much as what I view as the truth. However, my statement made her cry. This was strong evidence that she had some insecurity with regard to her faith. If she was absolutely convinced, she just would have thought that I was foolish and it wouldn’t have created an emotional response.

Insecurity induces irrational behavior that can threaten your life quality maximization. Insecure people also have a tendency to avoid situations that challenge their beliefs. Blocking things out like this can leave you in a fragile state that can be dangerous if you are accidentally exposed to these challenging situations.

It is possible to use philosophy to establish principles that you are confident in. Many insecurities stem from philosophical issues such as how to live. If you aren’t sure of your principles in life, you will always run the risk of thinking you’ve been doing things wrong and that someone else is doing it better. If you can decide on a solid set of principles to live by, you can relieve yourself of the problems that come with insecurity.

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10 Comments so far
  1. It makes no difference November 24, 2010 6:47 am

    Something in your past has created the hyper-logical mind you possess. People find you insulting and tactless, and you explain it away by telling yourself you’re superior to them.
    You even think you’re suprerior to your superiors. Because of this attitude, the gatekeepers in your life will not let you pass. You will be held back by your own hubris.

    Your obvious arrogance leads me to believe that you are young and naive. The older a person gets and the more they are exposed to, the more they realize they know practically nothing of what there is to know.

    You just keep reading those books on psychology, hoping that some day, you’ll understand the world and the people in it. But it won’t help until you go the other direction.
    You must first become humble before you can be great.
    You must first become a servant before you can lead.

  2. cspice November 24, 2010 3:21 pm

    Thanks for your honest comment. However, I think you might be crossing the line from logical debate to weakly-grounded personal insult. It would be much more interesting and productive if you attacked my argument rather than ignoring the argument and attacking me. Also, keep in mind that as a philosophical forum, truth takes precedence over tact here, whereas different rules may apply elsewhere.

  3. Andria December 6, 2010 12:12 am

    did you ever consider about yourself as insecure? or in the case with that very religious person, that you needed to expose that person to your insecurities, in order to reinforce your confidence of self-being? im sorry, but the article above, is not psychology, i couldnt see any approach in it, but several concepts bundled together. Insecurities are genetics and environmental triggers, or, insecurities may stem from early experiences or ‘troubles’ with significant others in one’s life. Insecurities have themselves a nature. Not every person is a ‘self-philosopher’. Philosophies and principles change, since life flows, we grow, we experience and we socialize. This article is not psychology, its not scientific and the exposure of your personal experiences to individual’s which are actually seeking help online, because, for one reason or another do not want or do not have the means to seek for professional help or advicce, is pointless and useless.

  4. cspice December 9, 2010 9:14 pm

    Andria, thanks for your interesting comment. I think everyone experiences insecurity in one form or another. However, I think that a strong conviction in your beliefs can mitigate the effects of insecurities. I don’t think there are any examples of my own insecurities that are as illustrative as the example I gave in the article. That’s why I chose that story–because it is the clearest example I’ve seen of insecurity, not because it is marvelous example of sensitivity.

    The question of whether this article is psychology or not depends on what definition you are using. Although this is not “the science of mind and behavior” because there is no scientific method here, I believe this article falls under the definition: “the study of mind and behavior in relation to a particular field of knowledge or activity” (definitions from Merriam Webster). Perhaps it would be
    better labeled as philosophy, but the modern usage of “philosophy” has a less practical connotation.

    I hope that my thoughts are not entirely useless to others. They have helped me and I want to offer them to others who may benefit as I did.

  5. Peter July 22, 2012 6:20 am

    On the other hand your announcing your atheism to the world in that contrived example, and relishing in having made a person of faith cry because of her “insecurity”, only shows your own insecurity, and insensitivity. Personally, I find your atheism as irrational as most religious beliefs. And even more annoying. Does my sensitivity and defensiveness demonstrate to you my insecurity about not knowing the answers to the mystery of life?

  6. cspice July 30, 2012 11:12 pm

    Peter, I certainly did not relish in making someone cry and I don’t believe that anything in this article suggests that I did. Also, it is not a contrived example, it actually happened!

    To answer your question in general terms, I do think that whenever someone has a strong defensive or emotional reaction to a philosophical argument it is evidence of some underlying insecurity. For example, if you are debating someone and they disagree with you, I see two main reasons why you might get flustered. One is if you are unsure of your stance and their challenge is disturbing to you. This is the form of insecurity exhibited in the example in the article. The other is that you think they are wrong and you have to convince them, perhaps because they have some power over you. This is also a form of insecurity about your control of the situation because if you had absolute control, you would feel no need to convince them; you could just ignore them.

  7. Mathew August 22, 2014 10:55 pm

    Does this not also denote an insecurity when someone uses an example that is in opposition to their own ideological principles to prove a point?

    It’s so easy to recognize other people’s insecurity’s but not so easy to recognize our own!!

  8. cspice August 22, 2014 11:05 pm

    Hi Mathew, I’m not sure I understand your point. Can you elaborate on what idealogical principle you are referring to, which example you are referring to, how the example violates the principle, and how this relates to insecurity?

  9. One August 24, 2014 3:22 am

    If you are interested, I will humble you. Feel free to email me for an enlightening debate.

  10. JD December 11, 2014 4:17 pm

    So has psychology found a possible solution to this issue?

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