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Published on December 27, 2019

5 Causes of Insecurities in a Relationship Not to Overlook

5 Causes of Insecurities in a Relationship Not to Overlook

As human beings, none of us are ever going to be truly confident and certain about every aspect of our lives (after all, we’re not God), and these moments of uncertainty can lead to us feeling insecure on occasion about ourselves. It could be uncertainty over our appearance, our life choices, or even something as insignificant as whether we got on the right bus to work today. The point is, we all have some sort of experience when it comes to facing insecurities.

However, why is it that some people tend to face more insecurities than others, with seemingly greater frequency and intensity? This becomes far more apparent during relationships when emotions are involved, and sometimes we end up feeling drained as a result of our partner’s constant projections of insecurity wearing us out. It could even be the other way around and you’re the one who faces insecurity, but you don’t know what’s causing them in the first place.

Either way, if you feel that your current relationship has a potential future, but the main obstacle putting it all at risk are insecurities, then being able to identify the root cause behind you or your partner’s insecurity, as well as understanding how to overcome them, could very well go a long way to help you save your relationship.

Causes of Insecurities in a Relationship

Here are the 5 main causes behind insecurities in a relationship that you should not overlook.

1. Low Self-Esteem/Confidence

We’re only ever as secure in a relationship as we allow ourselves to be. But if we’ve already been feeling uncertain about almost every aspect of our lives, then how can we expect our relationships to be any different?

Low self-esteem and a general lack of confidence is arguably THE top cause for relationship insecurity and typically links back to a person’s upbringing.

Getting teased and bullied in school, being constantly told you weren’t good enough, or perhaps even the lack of proper affection growing up… all these experiences would definitely have long term implications on a person and if left unresolved, will continue on into adulthood.

Regardless of where it’s rooted from though, the resulting outcome would remain relatively unchanged, and they often grow up constantly feeling insecure about everything because of the conditioning they received over the years.

If you’re constantly doubting their own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, not only would you end up projecting these doubts onto your relationship and your partner, but it’ll also lead to a series of irrational thoughts and worries, which only further amplifies those feelings of insecurity.

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2. Negative Past Experiences (Emotional Baggage)

Many of us have walked away from certain relationships either because something bad happened (unfaithful, dishonest, etc.) or perhaps the very nature of the relationship itself had just been too toxic (abusive, emotionally unavailable, etc.). As we walk away from such relationships, the healthy thing to do would be to also leave those negative memories behind and eventually move past them to start afresh.

However, some of us end up holding onto those negative emotions and we even bring them into our subsequent relationships as unresolved emotional baggage. This creates insecurity and anxiety that we end up projecting onto our new partners, because we’re subconsciously holding them against whatever pain or hurt our ex inflicted on us.

As a result, we develop certain insecurities towards our partner and there may even be difficulties when it comes to placing trust in them, even if they haven’t actually given us any reason not to.

When we bring past emotional baggage into a new relationship, we automatically create an environment where there’s insecurity, and we essentially sabotage the new relationship by holding our new partner guilty for something they didn’t even do.

3. Attachment Styles

Based on psychological research (theory of attachment), it has been identified that a child develops different attachment styles (secure or insecure) depending on the way their parent interacted with them.

It was also found that these attachment styles could continue into adulthood and would play an important role on the way individuals form their relationships. Having a neglected childhood could result in a person having greater insecurities as an adult and because their emotional needs had not been met while growing up.

This causes major insecurity projections especially in a relationship, because the individual with an insecure attachment style has little to no experience when it comes to getting their emotional needs met. The moment they finally understand what it feels like to have their emotional needs catered to, an unhealthy reliance is created. That individual has no other perceived means of receiving such affection.

With anything perceived as precious to someone, there also comes the general fear of losing it. And a person who has an insecure attachment style would probably end up projecting these fears in obvious ways. They could get jealous easily, extremely sensitive, are constantly seeking validation from you, and could even become extremely clingy because they feel threatened by anything that could pull their partner’s attention away from them.

4. Personal Life Fulfilment (or Lack Thereof)

As two distinct individuals prior to finding each other, the both of you are going to have unique aspects about yourselves that would make you, uniquely you. Your career, your hobbies, your goals, your views, and even your favourite food, are all tailored aspects of yourself that not only create your personal identity, but would also provide you with a sense of fulfilment.

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Many people tend to lose their individual identities after getting into a relationship and consequently, also lose that sense of personal life fulfilment. As a result, they turn to their partners instead, and start relying on them in order to provide them with life fulfilment and meaning.

This factor by itself while considered unhealthy, may not necessarily create insecurities in a relationship. However, when we develop a reliance on someone else to bring our lives meaning and fulfilment, there’s usually also a subconscious expectation for the other person to feel the same way about us, that comes along with our reliance.

This could cause insecurities and even jealousy to form, whenever our partner experiences an external form of happiness unrelated to us, or when there’s a positive change happening in our partner’s lives. Instead of feeling happy and supportive of our partner’s achievements, we end up feeling bitter and insecure, all because something else (aside from us) had been able to make our partners happy and give their lives meaning.

5. Unequal Past Relationship Experiences

By a certain point in everyone’s adult lives, we’re going to eventually exhaust all of our relationship ‘first times’. We may have previously even called someone from a past relationship our ‘soulmate’ before, or perhaps ever came close to settling down. We all progress at a different pace and even the amount of relationship experience will vary for every individual.

If you’re not a confident person to begin with, getting together with someone who has significantly more experience than you or previously involved in a serious relationship could easily cause relationship insecurities.

If you’re constantly making comparisons between you and your partner’s exes or the emotional connection they once had (which would probably be greater than yours), feelings of inferiority could easily take shape as you begin to doubt yourself and wonder if you could ever quite measure up.

What Can You Do to Overcome Insecurities?

If you find yourself being the insecure one in the relationship, here’s what you can do to overcome your insecurities (or help your partner overcome theirs).

Self-Awareness (Mindfulness)

The first step in overcoming any problem is to realize and acknowledge that one exists. If you don’t even know that your insecurities are negatively affecting your relationship or worse still, don’t realize that you’re acting insecure to begin with, then there’s no way you’d ever be able to move past it and those insecurities are just going to be a recurring problem.

It’s not enough just to know that a problem exists though, if you aren’t willing to do anything about it. You need to develop a greater self-awareness over your own emotions if you ever hope to improve the way you feel and act about certain matters.

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Ultimately, having awareness and mindfulness over your individual self is essential in overcoming insecurities and preventing yourself from subconsciously acting needy, getting jealous, or even manipulating your partner whenever you feel insecure about something.

Open and Honest Communication

Regardless of whether it’s you or your partner who faces insecurities, one of you is going to inevitably bring it up at some point during the relationship. The main question here is when and where.

Will it come out as ammunition to hurt the other person while in the middle of an argument? Or as an open discussion that both parties can comfortably talk about without getting defensive or feeling offended?

Without a healthy line of communication with your partner, feelings of frustration and negativity are only going to bottle up and progressively worsen with each additional insecurity ‘episode’ that takes place, causing the relationship to slowly deteriorate.

If you see potential with your current partner, then you’re going to have to start working on establishing an honest, open, and healthy line of communication with them. Don’t be so worried that you’re going to end up hurting the other person’s feelings that you avoid confrontations altogether, because the alternative of bottling it up is only going to result in a far worse outcome.

Find the time to sit your partner down and let them know that there’s been something on your mind (NOT when you’re in the middle of an argument or there’s any sort of tension between both parties).

First, start off by making a disclaimer that whatever you’re about to say isn’t meant to ‘poke’, hurt, or put them down, but rather because you see a future with them, and would therefore wish to be honest and open about your feelings so that the both of you can grow stronger as a couple by working together to overcome it.

Be careful when choosing your words, especially if you’re trying to tell an already insecure person that they’re being insecure. Avoid using confrontational words like ‘you’ (i.e. you’re always acting insecure!) and instead, choose softer alternatives that are less likely to trigger them so that the discussion can continue in a positive manner (i.e. I’ve noticed that there has been some insecurities in the relationship lately).

Your objective at the end of the day is to not just get them to realize and acknowledge that they do have these insecurities, but more importantly, to let them know that you’d still be by THEIR side no matter what (remember that their insecurities aren’t going to magically disappear just because you brought it up) and you’re still going to have to make certain compromises when suggesting ways to improve the situation.

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Engage a Professional Therapist to Help Address Deeper Rooted Issues

Unfortunately, not all issues can be overcome through self-facilitation, and there are certain people whose insecurities will be so deeply rooted that professional help may be required before any improvement can be seen.

If you or your partner’s cause of insecurity is linked back to more serious issues like poor childhood upbringing or experiencing a certain incident that may have brought about severe trauma/anxiety, then the two of you simply aren’t going to be able to overcome these issues alone, and a professional therapist or counsellor should be engaged to help better facilitate.

Final Thoughts

How can we ever hope for others to love us if we aren’t even capable of first loving ourselves?

There’s a certain truth to this cliched saying, and someone who has major insecurities about their partners would tend to usually also have a low sense of self-love. When a person lacks confidence and has low self-esteem, their self-worth will also get affected and this leads to insecurities developing as a result.

An insecure person constantly doubts and questions their partner’s decision to be with them, simply because they’re incapable of seeing their own worth. They constantly feel insecure about why their partner would choose them when they don’t believe they’re even worth loving in the first place.

If you’re someone who’s constantly insecure in your relationship – There was a reason why your partner first chose you and it wasn’t by coincidence or by accident. Your partner chose you because they saw certain qualities in you that they felt attracted to; qualities that you have been constantly failing to take notice of and sometimes even stubbornly remaining in denial over.

You need to learn to start embracing these qualities and foster greater love for yourself, because the key to having a secure and loving relationship all starts with you.

At the end of the day, insecurities are essentially a projection of a person’s manifested doubts, fears, and uncertainties. There’s never just one single clear cause behind a person’s insecurities and it tends to be a combination of several factors (both past and present) that would create those uncertainties.

Identifying the root cause behind you or your partner’s insecurity and understanding how to overcome it are both essential processes to work on, if we ever hope to create a lasting relationship with our partners.

Featured photo credit: Justin Follis via unsplash.com

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Kevin Thompson

A breakup and relationship expert who writes about reconciliation and becoming a better person

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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