18 Characteristics of an Insecure Person

Insecurity comes from a deep-seated lack of confidence in yourself, but it isn’t always obvious because it manifests as various contradictory behaviors and attitudes. This article uncovers the 18 telling signs that you aren’t as confident as you seem and may be harboring underlying insecurities, even if outward appearances indicate otherwise.

Overly Critical

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Insecure people often use criticism of others as a way to feel better about themselves. Clinical psychologist Nick Wignall says, “People who are insecure consistently feel bad about themselves. And often, they don’t know how to feel better in a healthy or productive way. So they often resort to criticizing others.” They aim to divert attention away from their flaws and elevate themselves above others.

Excessive Bragging

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While it may seem the opposite of insecurity, boasting a lot is often a psychological response to feeling inferior or worthless. PsychoLogs states that insecure people often overcompensate for this perceived inferiority by highlighting their achievements and possessions to gain the respect and admiration of others and boost their low self-esteem.


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The Globe and Mail asserts that perfectionism has nothing to do with high standards and everything to do with insecurity. Individuals with low self-esteem strive for perfection to prove their worth and receive valuable external validation. Unfortunately, falling short of these unrealistically high standards can leave them feeling like failures, and worsen their insecurity.

Can’t Accept Compliments

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According to Psychology Today, “Compliments can make people with low self-esteem feel uncomfortable because they contradict their own self-views.” This makes it hard for insecure individuals to accept praise and approval gracefully, even though they may secretly crave it.

Constant Comparison

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Insecure people aren’t secure in their own skin or confident in their abilities, so they frequently compare themselves to others around them and often come to the same conclusion: they’re inadequate. This behavior comes from a deep-seated sense of self-doubt and a fear of never measuring up.

Avoiding Eye Contact

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Failing to look someone in the eye is a classic sign of submission and conflict avoidance in the animal kingdom, says Hack Spirit. Insecure people don’t believe they have the ‘right’ to look you in the eye, so they signal their inferiority by looking elsewhere. They may also fear being ‘seen’ for what they truly perceive themselves to be: unworthy.

Social Media Addiction

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If someone is obsessed with their social media persona and deeply affected by how many ‘likes’ or ‘shares’ they receive, they’re probably insecure. As noted by Elite Daily, relying on social media for validation shows that a person relies on the opinions of others for self-esteem and that they need constant reassurance and approval to combat their insecurities.


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VeryWell Mind states that insecure people can be very defensive, especially when receiving criticism, no matter how constructive. Hyper-defensiveness is a response to low self-esteem and a mechanism by which they can protect their fragile self-image from perceived attacks and further erosion.


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Excessive apologizing, especially when blameless or for trivial matters, can be a clue to identifying the insecure. Such behavior is associated with low confidence and an inferiority complex, prompting individuals to avoid conflict and appease others by constantly saying sorry ‘just in case’ or as a sign of submissiveness.


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Confident, self-assured people are good at making decisions quickly and decisively, but the opposite is true for the insecure among us. As cited on LinkedIn, they fear making the wrong choice and the potential consequences it might bring. This lack of faith in themselves causes less secure people to overthink things and hesitate when making choices.


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Someone who doubts the value of their appearance and personality will often make expensive purchases to compensate for their perceived failings. Using material possessions to overcompensate for their feelings of inadequacy creates a facade of success or happiness to mask their insecurities.


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Insecure individuals tend to overanalyze other people’s body language and reactions because their low opinions of themselves make them hyper-alert to being disliked, excluded, or criticized. Constantly worrying about how they’re perceived is common for the insecure, and they often find ‘hidden meaning’ in casual remarks or actions.

Fear of Trying New Things

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The posh word for this fear is ‘neophobia,’ and it’s particularly prevalent in insecure people because low self-esteem makes them certain of failure or embarrassment—both of which they find terrifying. CNBC claims that insecure people often use excuses not to try new things or try to delay change, which is especially detrimental in the workplace.

Mimicking Others

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When you don’t trust your own preferences, style choices, or opinions, the easiest thing to do is steal them from someone you admire! Insecure individuals do this in a desperate attempt to be accepted without the need to be risky trend-setters or forward thinkers. Sadly, their lack of confidence in their own identity makes them incapable of showcasing it for fear of rejection.

Controlling Behavior

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Some insecure people tend to over-plan activities or attempt to control situations. This controlling behavior stems from feelings of anxiety over whether they’ll be able to cope with new experiences like meeting new people or doing new things and is designed to keep them ‘within their small comfort zone.’

Needing Constant Reassurance

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Sage Therapy states that insecure people constantly worry about the state of their relationships and that “validation is sought out in order to satiate that sense of worry. Excessive seeking of reassurance can feel crucial for those needing to decrease anxiety about their relationship.” Such concerns come from intrinsic self-doubt and disbelief that anyone truly cares for them.

Obsessing Over Their Appearance

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Physical insecurity is common, particularly among adolescents and young people, but an obsession with looks is a common trait of insecure people of all ages. This behavior arises from the belief that physical attractiveness equates to acceptance, so they’re constantly scrutinizing themselves in an effort to be physically ‘worthy.’

Social Withdrawal

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A more expected trait of the insecure is a withdrawal from social interactions or locations where they’re likely to be seen or recognized. This comes from a painfully low opinion of their physical appearance and a fear of social rejection or judgment. It’s particularly common in adolescents whose self-esteem has been diminished by bullying.

If you or someone you know needs to talk about bullying or depression, text Crisis Text Line at 741741.

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