Insecurity can hit anyone without warning.
Comparing yourself to others can be triggered even by the simplest things.
So how do you stop it? We asked 23 experts, “how to stop being insecure about yourself?”
Here are their top answers.
Sumayya Essack, MSW, MBA
Mindset Coach, Curate The Future
Our culture values confident go-getters, and it’s easy to forget that everybody deals with insecurity. Insecure people tend to be very hard on themselves, which compounds the problem, so cut yourself a break for being a human.
It’s important to identify the root of your insecurity
Usually, there are two roots of insecurity: real shortcomings and perceived shortcomings.
With real shortcomings, there is a genuine lack of skill or experience, which understandably leads to insecurity. For example, it’s easy to feel insecure about public speaking if you’ve hardly done it.
This type of insecurity is normal when you are new at something. Without the experience that underpins confidence, it makes sense that you might feel insecure. In these cases, focusing on building your skills and experience will reduce your insecurity over time.
Perceived shortcomings, on the other hand, plague folks whose perception of their skill or ability doesn’t match their standards. The keys here are to adjust your standards and talk to yourself with encouragement. Let’s look at each of these.
High standards are great, but when taken to an extreme, such as with perfectionists, nothing is ever good enough and you will never measure up in your own mind. Result: chronic insecurity.
It’s up to you to strive and improve, yet be level-headed with your standards and not be overly hard on yourself when you fall short.
Impossibly high standards tend to go hand-in-hand with all-or-nothing thinking. That result wasn’t amazing, so it was a failure. A more realistic assessment might be, That result wasn’t amazing, but all in all, it was pretty good.
Sometimes you’ve got to let good enough be good enough. And if it was a complete bomb? Well, you’re human. You’re allowed to get it wrong.
Remember to tell yourself as much
What would you say to a friend who faced rejection or failure? That is how you need to talk to yourself. We all have a constant running commentary in our minds, and insecure people are more likely to have a negative commentary and be unkind to themselves.
In addition to adjusting your standards and making more realistic assessments, you can focus on giving yourself credit for your effort. It’s true that your best won’t always be good enough, but your best is all you can do.
Finally, taking action is critical to building confidence and reducing insecurity.
By taking action you build your tolerance for risk, increase your skills through practice, and show yourself that even when something flops, you’re still standing. Outward action complements the inner work of adjusting your standards and self-talk.
In sum, you’ve got to be there for yourself and actively change how you talk to yourself.
It can take time, but this is the crux of turning your insecurity around. Remember, there’s no jury out there deciding that everything is a verdict on you as a human being. The real jury is the one in your mind. Luckily, you control the verdict.
Richard Brouillette, LCSW
Psychotherapist, Therapy With Richard
Build some necessary skills to overcome insecurity
If you’re feeling insecure, try asking yourself these two questions as a way of starting a productive dialogue with yourself:
Are you more insecure when around others, or do you feel insecure more when you are by yourself?
If it’s when you are around others, it may be that you have an issue with getting close to people, like maybe you have a fear of rejection or feel inadequate.
Or you may be afraid of conflict, always looking for ways to avoid it, as though maybe you feel anger isn’t ok. And if you feel insecure even when you are alone, you may have a very strong critical voice in your mind, putting you down.
Next, here are some skills to build to overcome insecurity.
These are the skills you build with the help of a therapist, but you can also get started yourself.
Try to be a caring friend for yourself who will intervene when you are feeling put down. You need someone to step in and stand up to all the unreasonable critical thinking.
Would you let a friend feel bullied by their own self-criticism, or feel like they deserve rejection? No- you would step in and talk about how the criticism is unfair, and talk about your friend’s good qualities.
You can do that for yourself. Be a defense attorney for your self-esteem. This will take practice, and it’s great to have another person in your corner supporting you as you do it.
Neuroscientist | Mental Health and Mind Expert | Author, “Think, Learn, and Succeed: Understanding and Using Your Mind to Thrive at School, the Workplace, and Life“
Surround yourself with people that love you
When you feel worthless, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Text or call a loved one, go for coffee with a friend or family member.
Be open and honest about how you feel.
Having someone listen and love you is incredibly therapeutic; it even activates a genetic switch in your brain that can increase your resilience, change your blood chemistry and get up to 1400 neurophysiological responses working for you!
Read related article: How to Build a Personal and Family Support System
An honest safe loving conversation can also help you gain some perspective, allowing you to see how much you have to be happy about, while isolation is incredibly damaging to your mental and physical health and a major contributing factor to disease.
Licensed Psychotherapist | Developer, ROMChi Neural Dance Exercise System
Insecurity is usually the result of the unuseful lessons we’ve learned in our past (called maladaptive learning).
This is a deep neurological re-wiring that has happened in the past and the easiest, quickest way to rewire this old learning is through neurological interventions like EMDR SSP and neurofeedback. These are tools frequently used to treat traumatic stress which also has a lot to do with maladaptive learning.
Another tool I use to rewire the nervous system is through repetitive experience that counteracts the previous learning.
So if you learned that your nose looks ugly (even if it doesn’t), experiences, where your nose is of no consequence, is likely to eventually, after years, erase that learning.
If you have anxiety about leaving the house, years of leaving the house without feeling the stress that accompanies it will do the same thing.
This is called prolonged exposure in cognitive behavioral therapy. So the key is experiencing all these stressful situations without the anxiety your nervous system expects to come along with those experiences.
This requires a mindset change and some physical exercises. I developed the “ROMChi Stretch Dance” for this purpose. You can also use yoga, TaiChi, meditation, breathing exercises, talking to a close friend, etc. whatever works for you to bring down the stress.
So, for example, every time you feel powerless, bring your palms behind your head and push your elbows as far back as possible.
This will raise your chest, open your heart and cause you to take a deep inhale. According to research, this posture drops the cortisol hormone in your bloodstream about 20%, instantly.
Your nervous system will notice. You’re going to feel much better about yourself and your confidence will shoot up. Along with positive results about whatever it was, you were feeling insecure about, you also will need to develop the hard skills necessary to actually do the work of whatever you feel insecure about doing.
Dr. Michele Leno, Ph.D., LP
Licensed Psychologist | Owner, DML Psychological Services, PLLC
There is no simple answer or solution
Insecurities are very personal and deeply rooted, and eliminating them requires a great deal of self-awareness. In other words, while people and circumstances may trigger our self-consciousness, we are ultimately responsible for housing and reinforcing our insecurities.
How to stop being insecure? There is no simple answer or solution.
1. Assess your insecurities. What are they and how do they affect your life?
2. Embrace the appealing aspects yourself and you might realize that your insecurities keep your ego in check.
3. Insecurities are not all bad, however, they can trigger not so great behavior. In this case, managing the behavior is more important than eliminating the insecurity.
4. Stop comparing yourself to others. The world is diverse and your individual differences have contributed to your success.
5. Admit (to yourself at least) that you actually have insecurities. Saying aloud, “I want to change (fill in the blank) ____ about myself,” can be powerful.
6. You’re not alone. Everyone’s insecure about something; some have just found the perfect mask.
Author, Habits For Success
Learn how to become more self-aware
While there are many levels of insecurity, I think a great place to start is to learn how to become more self-aware. When we build self-awareness, we can look closer at the habits and routines that sabotage us. Negative self-talk for example.
Every time we say something negative, we are planting a negative seed. What happens is simple: we will begin to live out what we tell ourselves: “I can’t do this, I’m an idiot, I am a fool for thinking that,” etc.
The more we plant these negative seeds, the harder it will become. No wonder we are feeling insecure.
We aren’t showing ourselves the trust, love, and self-acceptance that we deserve.
Just imagine how we would feel and what we could accomplish if we surrounded ourselves with positive and life-affirming statements and visions. It really does make a difference.
To tap into the best versions of ourselves and not feel insecure, we have to become more self-aware and clear out our negative patterns and beliefs.
I think another great way to stop being insecure is to start stepping out of our comfort zones.
When we step out of our comfort zone and challenge ourselves, we are provided with so many new gifts. First and foremost, I think that we become more productive.
As we expand our capabilities and breakthrough barriers, we find new, exciting possibilities in every aspect of our lives. Your creativity will increase as you have new experiences and learn and grow from them, your creative abilities will develop and broaden.
I can attest to this personally. After I left my family business and began to follow my intuition all kinds of creative opportunities and gifts started showing up that I didn’t know were inside of me.
Another benefit of leaving one’s comfort zone is that you will begin to have an easier time dealing with new and unexpected changes.
Which in turn will make it easier to continue to push your own personal boundaries and continue the process of stepping out. Yes, please!
And finally, you will achieve more. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
If you don’t step out of your comfort zone how do you expect to write that children’s book that you’ve been thinking about or finishing that marathon you have always wanted to run.
When we challenge ourselves to accomplish something difficult, new gifts will be unveiled, you will be given the strength to continue on, and you will become less insecure.
Elise Marie Collins
Yoga Health Coach, Elise Marie Collins Yoga
Focus on these three things
The best way to stop the INSANITY of insecurity is to focus on these three things:
What are you here for? The more you step into your why, the more you lose those self-absorbed thoughts of how you look to others? Insecurity is entirely forgotten when you focus on purpose.
How you can serve
Like purpose, service is all about the other, not you. How can you help or uplift others? Your mind and your focus go to helping others or a bigger mission. You will forget your flaws when you think about how you are serving the world. You are human and humans love helping others.
Do something funny or silly
Insecurity comes as a result of taking yourself too seriously. Sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s true. If you are feeling insecure, you are focused on how people are judging you.
Chances are others are thinking of their own faults and foibles too. So tell a funny joke to yourself or others. Do a silly dance before you walk in the door of a party or event to loosen up your mood.
A sense of humor is a great antidote to insecurity.
Lifestyle Expert, The Modern Lady
Insecurity stops when you have the self-assured belief in yourself
I think of it this way, insecurity is like a dark room, the way to brighten a dark room is to turn up the light. Self-esteem is like light. When you value who you are, your talents and your abilities, you are able to spend time recognizing your greatness instead of dwelling on your flaws in insecurity.
Being insecure is a matter of perspective, and where you spend and focus most of your time and attention.
You can choose to focus on what you said or did wrong, or you can choose to focus on what you said or did right. When you focus on the value that you bring and the good qualities in yourself, you are no longer insecure, and that’s the best way to stop the insecure thoughts and feelings.
Know how valuable you are, and focus on that instead of your flaws.
Founder, Cusp It
When I speak at colleges about building confidence and overcoming insecurities, I describe this thing I call a “confidence-building exercise.”
These cannot be planned, but instead, happen whenever you feel you are faced with two choices in a situation:
- the thing you want to do that you KNOW is best for you or
- the thing you feel like you should do because you are worried what other people will think if you make choice.
In these situations, no matter how hard it is, you must ALWAYS choose choice 1.
An example I like to give is one day I went to the gym right after work. I packed my bag so I could conveniently stop on my way home.
It was a stressful time with my business growing and I really just needed a good workout. As I’m getting changed in the Planet Fitness locker room, I realize I forgot sneakers.
At this moment I realize that there was nothing unsafe about walking over to the mats and doing a bodyweight workout with my socks on.
But this internal voice was yelling at me that I could never do that. I would have to walk through the whole gym IN SOCKS to get over to the mats section. It was also in that moment that I realized I HAD TO DO IT.
I couldn’t let my insecurities stop me from doing something that I needed to do FOR ME.
How many times do we do something other than what is best for us because we let our insecurities drive our decisions? One confidence-building exercise at a time, you can squash those insecurities and feel empowered to DO YOU!
Owner, The Wing Girl Method
I spent the majority of my life being insecure and doubtful of my self-value. Truth be told, I still have a smidge of that in me.
BUT over the years I’ve learned to combat it and keep the insecure, doubtful feelings at bay.
And I did this by:
#1 Learn new skills. I’ve found that the biggest impact on my insecurities has to been to push myself to do new things that scare me.
Little things. Not huge things. But things that I couldn’t do before. Having more evidence that shows I CAN do things helps to defeat the feelings about things I CAN’T do or that I”m insecure about.
#2 Coaching other people and how to STOP being insecure. Hearing things out of someone else’s mouth that I’ve thought about myself, deflates it’s impact and normalizes it.
I know not everyone can just open up a coaching shop to stop their insecurity BUT what they can do is open up conversations with friends, co-workers, even strangers on the bus to hear their worries, concerns, and insecurities.
This will be beneficial to both themselves and to others because everyone will get to express and share their insecurities out loud.
Certified Professional Coach | Certified Professional Recovery Coach
Celebrating success always seems to help decrease insecurity, and you can celebrate successes of any size all day long.
Two techniques I both use and recommend for celebrating your success are the daily success list and the adoration board.
The daily success list is an ongoing journal or calendar that notes five good things you’ve done every day. These don’t have to be monumental activities, either. My daily list often includes things like hitting 10K steps on my pedometer and taking time to play with my dogs.
The adoration board is a bulletin board where you can post compliments, feedback, snapshots or mementos of moments where someone made you feel appreciated and adored.
I fill it with printed-out fan emails and reviews I receive from clients, along with the magnificent messages I get from family and friends. Add to the board as needed, until it gets so heavy with adoration it threatens to fall off the wall.
Both activities serve as ongoing daily reminders that you ARE a success – even when those negative noises in your brain are trying to tell you otherwise.
Simply tell the voices in your head to take a hike, because you have the tangible proof right in front of you that you are worthy, appreciated, successful and loved.
Founder, Junto NYC
Being insecure in yourself has much to do with how you think about yourself and your self-perceived identity.
When you consider yourself as not being “valuable“, and not possessing the things (whether they are characteristics, qualities, status or possessions) that make you an important person worthy of love and respect, that could result in insecurity by creating a thought in your mind: “I am not good enough”.
Many religious and spiritual practices offer guidance on how to resolve insecurity by noticing the thought as being separate from yourself.
There is a judgment being placed on the person, in this case, yourself, as being “not good enough” but who is the judge?
That thought might have originated from a combination of experiences from the past, pain body from childhood, parental influence or some other source.
When one learns to challenge the judge, one becomes less vulnerable to insecurity.
Meditation helps greatly with this problem by being aware of the insecure thoughts rather than being pushed around by them
Mindfulness Trainer | Author
Change what you’re thinking and you can change the reality
Often people feel insecure because of their self-talk. They talk themselves into believing a reality where they are not enough: good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, rich enough—the list could go on forever.
People’s thoughts have a tremendous amount of power, so by changing what they are thinking, and they can actually change their reality.
One way to change your thoughts is to use affirmations or positive statements that you write and say to yourself.
Examples of affirmations for developing confidence:
- I am confident in the way I look and present myself.
- When I meet new people I am centered within, allowing me to focus on them.
- I am a valuable person, and I have ideas of value to contribute.
- I am comfortable with who I am.
- I focus on the aspects of myself that I feel good about.
Author | Speaker
When one is insecure, it is oftentimes because they are constantly focused on all that went wrong that day, how they fell short, and what can be done to make things better.
One of the things I like to share is an exercise I discovered that helped me nip that critical voice in the bud.
By my bedside, I keep a journal that is titled “What Went Right”. In it, I write down all the things I did that “went right” during the day: I got up on time without hitting the snooze alarm. I resisted cake in the break room at lunch. I spoke up at a team meeting. I got to the gym after work. I put a hot meal on the table for my family.
When you start focusing on all the “right” things you are doing in your life, you have less time to focus on all those mistakes and oversights.
In addition, you are filling your subconscious mind with positive thoughts before bedtime, instead of going to bed on a negative note.
You just have to go do it
Put yourself out there, be willing to fail, and take the lessons learned to make you a better person, professional, and competitor.
Often times, a person’s worst enemy is herself. Getting stuck inside your own head, trying to rationalize a failure can be worse than the outcome of the shortcoming itself.
When you spend too much time looking in the mirror, you’ll miss the world around you. This means missed opportunities to defeat your insecurity.
Human beings are powerful, resilient creatures. You might not think you have the strength to confront your insecurities; in reality, it’s the negative voice inside your head that holds you back.
When you put yourself out there – whether it’s dating, competition, or some creative pursuit – your conscious self is telling that voice of insecurity that you won’t listen to it, that you’re more powerful than it, that its opinions don’t matter.
Ultimately, it all comes down to willing to let others judge you, not caring for those judgments, and improving yourself as you experience the lessons.
Musician | Author
Think about it in a positive rather than a negative
The best way to stop being insecure is to think about it in a positive rather than a negative. If you just “stop” something, the question remains what will you do when you stop? I’d focus instead on “learning to be secure,” which puts it in a context of continual improvement.
Security comes from three places: mental, emotional, and physical.
Physical is, in a sense, the easiest to address because of the way it can be taken out of the emotional realm, dealt with, and then reintegrated. Sometimes we have addressed our emotional security, but because our physical security is not in place, we still feel unsafe.
My favorite way to address physical security is through a somatic approach like the Feldenkrais Method. In such work, through gentle movement a person is given a chance to rediscover lost connections in the body that, once found, often make it easier to stand, sit and breathe.
In many cases, we are rediscovering a way of thinking about ourselves that belonged to us as children and which we have forgotten through the scars of age.
The nicest thing about working in this way is that it both serves and models the mental and emotional. While somatic methods are no substitute for talk therapy, they do enhance it by providing the safest possible body in which to do the work.
When a person is no longer afraid in their skin, many kinds of things are possible which were not previously available.
Uma Alexandra Beepat
Owner, Lotus Wellness Center LLC
We tend to mostly feel insecure when we compare ourselves to other people.
Think about it! If you were doing everything within a vacuum without anyone around, problem solved!
So the main issue is to stop comparing what you do or don’t do to others and you will feel better. How do you do that?
My main advice is to cut out social media, magazines, and gossip from your life. In listening to other people’s stories, the desire to judge yourself will come in. Stop!
Take the time usually consumed with those things to now do things that focus on YOU such as reading books to increase your wisdom or working out to have better health. Leave the drama and trauma out there and recommit to focusing on yourself.
Another choice you can make is to only attend events that are positive and uplifting to you and for you.
I rarely hang out at social events, go to parties or attend girls night outs anymore. It can be a whole lot of trash-talking!
Instead, I sign on for meditations, conscious conversations and healer events hosted in my area. It is a way to connect with a conscious community focused on positivity and raising our self-love.
Founder, Blue Girls Turned Gold
Who have you seen on TV that has not altered something about themselves that we all loved!
Insecurity has touched everyone you know. Maybe it was our parents telling us we weren’t enough. Or that CEO that told us we were not getting that promotion because of something we didn’t have.
Insecurities are often picked up subconsciously and definitely given power if repeated.
For example, if you have thinning hair and you ask someone do they notice, one you already feel insecure and you are now opening and allowing for an outside input that could lean either way.
In the same situation a person not insecure about the thinning most likely won’t ask, instead, they acknowledge and move accordingly as they understand the perception of the thinning hair can only make an issue if YOU choose to!
When I host workshops one of the main things we work on is self-esteem, self-love, unlearning, and embracing who you are at this exact moment.
In a world where finding flaws are the greatest thing, embracing your “flaws” and loving, protecting and being yourself through them, it is a process you will grow through but your perception and your ability to trump outsiders beliefs and thoughts while preserving self is powerful and important! That insecurity is just an illusion!
It is a thought that makes you think you need to be anyone other than you.
Think about it. No one else can be who you are. No one. Not one single person. Which is why there is only one you.
Because you are enough. You have always been enough.
Which is why only you can do what only you can do. Be you. Which means you can learn how to heal the thoughts you learned to think about you.
To return to the confidence of being who you are. To return to the confidence of you. The only you there is. The only you there will ever be.
Read related article: How to Believe in Yourself More?
Coach | Mentor, Tranquility Soul Spa
Learn about who you are and what’s important to you
When we take the time to explore our inner selves in a deep and meaningful way, we discover that we are worthy, and we can approach our lives from a place of certainty – and certainly gives us the confidence to embrace all the parts of ourselves!
Asking good questions about yourself is a great starting point for this work.
Who am I now? Who do I aspire to be? What do I want my life to look like? How do I get there from where I am now? When you know the answers to these questions, you are much less likely to be insecure!
The root of insecurity, in any relationship, is a lack of trust and intimacy.
It is the same with our relationships with ourselves.
When we do not spend enough time curiously trying to get to know the person in the mirror, we feel distant from that person. How could we feel secure in a relationship with no closeness?
The path to healing insecurity is paved with self-awareness.
Pay attention to yourself. Pay attention to what gives you energy and what drains it. Seek opportunities to meet your needs. Soon enough, you will feel more secure, just because you will have a deeper connection with yourself.
Author | Coach
Mindset is the most important part of ridding yourself of insecurities.
How you talk to yourself matters. A great way to overcome negative self-talk is to look in the mirror and find everything positive in yourself.
Find a positive mantra and say it aloud. Use active verbs. It starts at a basic level of loving yourself. When you love yourself then you can start to overcome insecurities.
Digital Marketing Specialist, Perfect Gym Software
My personal journey to losing my insecurities came about in a pretty unorthodox way; I had an intense lifestyle change that put quite a bit into perspective, and more importantly, helped me feel more confident in myself than I ever felt before.
In summary, I had what I call my “quarter-life crisis” and made a somewhat impulsive decision to move from Los Angeles to Budapest, Hungary to accept a position as an English teacher at a bilingual high school.
Now, I have lived abroad for about two years and change, and I absolutely swear that doing something so out of my Los Angeles comfort zone paired with traveling all across Europe has completely changed how I view myself and the world.
I understand most people are not going to uproot their lives in the name of “getting out of their comfort zones”, but being able to see a different side of the world firsthand through travel completely changed what I cared about.
I began naturally moving away from picking apart my insecurities to channeling that energy into planning new trips. Not to speak in cliches, but it’s almost like finding a new passion for traveling helped me move away from hyper-analyzing myself and my faults.