When you think of insecurity, you probably imagine all kinds of things, from shy men and women who have trouble talking to the opposite sex to bullies who need to harass kids on the playground to feel better about themselves. Insecurity is a blanket definition for many problems in human behavior, and that makes sense because there are so many different types. Relationship insecurities, emotional insecurities, financial and job insecurities, physical insecurities – the list goes on. According to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, one out of every 100 people now suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder, which means they develop an obsessive fixation on a small or imagined physical flaw. Nearly 80 percent of those suffering from this common mental health problem are suicidal for most of their lives. How does the human brain end up this way?
Are People Born Insecure?
The overwhelming answer is no. Nobody is born with a gene for self-hatred – it’s an environmental and cultural development that comes from your place in society and your experiences. But people are born with various different temperaments, and some of those temperaments may make them more vulnerable to insecurity than others. How insecure a person may be is not dependent on how they look or how wide their social circle is. Some people are naturally more reactive than others and absorb negative emotions at a higher rate. It’s easy to see this in the frontal lobe activity of children younger than five. It’s a myth, however, to think a tendency towards introversion equals insecurity. Someone can be born with a temperament that makes social interaction harder or less appealing, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like themselves.
The Impact of Parenting
The experiences men and women have in childhood shape the kind of adults they become, and it’s true that a large number of chronically insecure people were raised in abusive households where they were taught to think negative things about themselves from an early age. But not all abuse is so direct. You can feel insecure simply because your parents worked too much as a kid or had to divide their time among too many siblings. A child’s early identity formation is crucial, and if no one is around to teach them they are valuable, special, and loved, they can have a hard time feeling it later on. The same goes for children who are interested in vastly different things than their parents or may feel less attractive than their other family members. From an early age, you will latch on to a sense that your mother and father are disappointed in you.
Causes in Adults
Even if you never experienced self-hatred as a child, many adults find themselves in life situations where insecurity, depression, and suicidal thoughts can emerge. Most of these problems come from how people view their place in society and the comparisons with others everyone is prone to making. If you have less money and success than your peers, or if you are overweight or aging, you may lose the things you have been basing your self-worth on. Psychologists say it’s important for people to not only value themselves, but to value themselves for unique qualities. Therapy for insecure behavior is often centered around discovering your one-of-a-kind mark on the world as opposed to constantly comparing yourself to those around you. Insecurity in relationships is another huge pitfall for adults. Bad experiences can lead to neurotic or self-destructive behavior because you are basing your worth on another person’s opinion or love.
It’s difficult to pinpoint one underlying cause of insecurity. It can start in childhood or it can develop over time. It can cripple you mentally and emotionally, or it can simply make it hard to ask the girl at the bar for her number. But what really matters is that virtually everyone is insecure in one way or another. When you’re working to overcome to absorption of negative attitudes and beliefs about yourself, remember that almost everyone you know has gone through the same battle.
Part-time counselor Brett Harris is an active supporter in his son’s school program against bullying. Check out the top 10 online masters in psychology degree programs http://www.bestpsychologydegrees.org/top-online-masters-in-psychology/that will help you launch a career as a school counselor.