Insecure Personality: Traits and Characteristics

Insecure, Indecisive and Avoidant Personality Profile

Insecurity is also often known as "shyness"
Shyness results in very similar traits to insecurity,
and often stems from the same causes.

Everybody acts insecure in some ways and socially awkward people aren't an exception.

A man recently told me,
“I used to be a really insecure person; at times I'd be down on myself
about what a loser I was, and in the next moments I'd be riding high on thoughts of how much
better I was than most people.”

Insecurity is interesting like that.
Sometimes it appears as straightforward low self-confidence.
At other times it's the opposite, where you have a false sense of superiority, built on a
foundation of rationalizations and false beliefs to protect your ego.

Insecurity (Poor Self-image) and Insecurity Traits and Behaviours
  • Generally being down on yourself: your basic low self-esteem in other words.
  • You think you're unattractive, boring, bad at talking to people, a loser, hopeless, etc, etc,
  • Socially, feeling like this can cause you to:
  • Purposely miss opportunities. You count yourself out before the game even starts    
    because you're convinced you won't do well. e.g., turning down invitations, not trying to    
    talk to people because you're sure they'll turn you away.
  • Turn people off by being overly being mopey, moody, and self-deprecating.
  • Subtly sabotage yourself to confirm beliefs that you're not good enough. Convinced     
    ahead of time you're going to fail, you may not try hard enough, or even mess up on   
    purpose to get the supposedly inevitable failure over with.
  • You may even talk so much about how you suck and that people always reject you, that you
    drive potential friends away who would have stuck around if you had never complained  
    about yourself in the first place.
  • You walk into a room (or leave one) and you hear a table of people laughing behind you.     
    Do you instantly assume they were laughing at you?

  • You're with a group of friends you just met and they start snickering to themselves     
    over one of their in-jokes. Do you again assume they're having a laugh at your expense?

  • At work do you create complex conspiracy theories to explain why your coworkers don't
    like you and are out to get you?

  • Feeling like no one understands you.
  • Quirky, atypical people often feel misunderstood. This may be rightly so, as not every
    regular person will 'get' them. It may be all in your head as well.

  • Feeling misunderstood may cause you to see other people as the enemy.
  • You may feel like rebelling against their standards in a knee-jerk way.
  • You may be too touchy and sensitive and interpret every little ambiguous comment as a
    sign others don't know the real you.
Insecure people are also known as being "Avoidant".
  • Avoiding occupational activities that require significant interpersonal contact. Job
    interviews or promotions may be turned down because your own perceptions of your
    abilities do not match the job description.

  • You are reluctant to participate in social involvement without clear assurance that they  
    will be accepted. People with this disorder assume other people are not safe to trust   
    until proven otherwise. Others must offer repeated support and encouragement in    
    order to persuade them to participate in a social event.

  • You fear being shamed or ridiculed in close relationships. As a result, people with this
    personality become overly alert to behavioural cues that may indicate disapproval or
    rejection. They will flee a situation in which they believe that others might turn against

  • You are preoccupied with being criticized or rejected. Much mental and physical energy   
    is spent brooding about and avoiding situations perceived as "dangerous."

  • You are inhibited in unfamiliar social situations due to feelings of inadequacy.

  • Low self-esteem undermines your confidence in meeting and conversing with new

  • You regard yourself as socially inept. This self-disparagement is especially apparent  
    when you must make social contacts with strangers.

  • People with avoidant personality disorder perceive themselves as unappealing or     
    inferior to others.

  • You are reluctant to take social risks, in order to avoid possible humiliation.

  • Avoidant people seek interactions that promise the greatest amount of acceptance     
    while minimizing the likelihood of embarrassment or rejection. You might go to a school
    dance, for example, but remain in one corner chatting with close friends rather than   
    going out on the dance floor with someone they do not know well.

  • They have very little self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • Occasional feelings of self-doubt and fear in new and unfamiliar social or personal
    relationships are not unusual, nor are they unhealthy, as these situations may trigger
    feelings of inadequacy and the wish to hide from social contact in even the most self-
    confident individuals.
  • But Avoidant, Insecure people carry it to an extreme where it makes major portions       
    of their lives dysfunctional.
About Insecurity, Shyness, Indecisiveness and Avoidance
Human beings are social creatures and they need social interaction, feedback, and validation  
of their worth.
their daily life, especially from their work and from stable relationships.
  • The emotionally immature person, however, has low levels of self-esteem and self-
    confidence and consequently feels insecure.

  • To counter those feelings of insecurity they will spend a large proportion of their lives
    creating situations in which they become the centre of attention.

  • It may be that the need for attention is inversely proportional to emotional maturity,
    therefore anyone indulging in attention-seeking behaviours is telling you how emotionally
    immature they are.

Attention-seeking behaviour is surprisingly common.
Being the centre of attention alleviates feelings of insecurity and inadequacy but the relief is
temporary as the underlying problem remains un-addressed.

Those problems are:
  • low self-confidence and
  • low self-esteem,
  • and consequent low levels of self-worth and self-love.

A well-known attention seeking method is the "Drama King/Queen" routine.

  • Many attention seekers commonly exploit the suffering of others to gain attention for

  • Or they may exploit their own suffering, or alleged suffering.
  • Many become the "bad-news mongerers", always ready to pass on any bad news they
    heard on the news, read in the newspaper or heard from others. It makes them feel
    important to do so.

  • In some cases they will use negative childhood situations to draw both attention and pity:
    in many cases this is deliberately exploited to obtain the attention of opposite gender
    persons: see the Lost Child, Relationships and Dating for more detail.

  • In worst-case situations of attention-seeking, insecure and emotionally immature people
    often exhibit bullying behaviours, especially manipulation and deception. These are
    necessary in order to obtain attention which would not otherwise be forthcoming.

  • Bullies and harassers have the emotional age of a young child and will exhibit temper
    tantrums, deceit, lying and manipulation to avoid exposure of their true nature and to
    evade accountability and sanctions.
Insecurity can be a very difficult hurdle for any person to overcome.
Its cousin, indecisiveness, can be a crippling factor in making good choices.

Insecurity comes from two root causes
  • a desire to please others and a general low opinion of oneself. When these two causes
    combine, the result is someone who is a "people pleaser,"  who is only happy when others
    are happy.

  • Indecisiveness can have multiple causes, one of which is a lack of reliance in one's own
    abilities, but postponing decisions never solves anything; often it aggravates things.

  • Insecurity and indecisiveness can take several forms in your personal romance and
    relationships. One is a nagging fear of all things romantic, and a refusal to get involved
    with others.
  • Another is a series of bad relationships, filled with problems such as jealousy, stalking,
    "clingyness", and even abuse.
  • Fear of disappointing others and general low-self worth can lead people to accept
    horrible situations because they are constantly in fear of being abandoned by others.
People with avoidance traits:
  • Practice avoidance of both social situations and close interpersonal relationships due to    
    an excessive fear of rejection by others.
  • Exhibit feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and mistrust toward others.

  • Desire to be in relationships with others but lack the skills and confidence that are
    necessary in social interactions.
  • In order to protect themselves from anticipated criticism or ridicule, they withdraw   
    from other people. This avoidance of interaction tends to isolate them from meaningful
    relationships, and serves to reinforce their nervousness and awkwardness in social

  • Are characterized by social withdrawal, shyness, distrustfulness, and emotional    
    distance. These people tend to be very cautious when they speak, and they convey a
    general impression of awkwardness in their manner.
  • Most are highly self-conscious and self-critical about their problems relating to others.

  • Usually have major trust issues.

See further below for Causes.
Many Insecure or Avoidant people had painful early experiences of chronic parental criticism
and rejection, often due to dysfunction or addiction in the family (alcoholism is one of the     
most common).

The need to bond with the rejecting parents makes the insecure or avoidant person hungry     
for relationships but their longing gradually develops into a defensive shell of self-protection
against repeated parental criticisms.

These constant parental behaviours have a great effect on their pattern of social withdrawal
and contributes to their current adult fear of social contact.

Thus these personality traits typically appear in childhood, with signs of excessive shyness     
and fear when the child confronts new people  and situations.

These characteristics are also developmentally appropriate emotions for children, however,  
and do not necessarily mean that a pattern of an insecure, avoidant personality will continue   
into adulthood, but frequently do so.

Avoidant personality disorder can occur in conjunction with other social phobias, mood and  
anxiety disorders, and personality disorders. The avoidant personality disorder may be      
either the cause or result of other mood and anxiety disorders.

For example, individuals who suffer from major depressive disorder may begin to withdraw
from social situations and experience feelings of worthlessness, symptoms that are also
prominent features of avoidant personality disorder.

On the other hand, the insecurity and isolation that are symptoms of avoidant personality
disorder can trigger feelings of depression.

Avoidant,  insecure people want to have relationships with others but are prevented by their  
social inadequacies. Often they end up living mostly in isolation.

When shyness, unfounded fear of rejection, hypersensitivity to criticism, and a pattern of  
social avoidance persist and intensify through adolescence and young adulthood, their lives are
drastically affected in major a negative ways.

When it became an ongoing thing, it began to have a long-term negative impact on them; leading
to functional impairment by significantly  altering occupational choice or lifestyle, or otherwise
impacting quality of life; and cause significant emotional distress. Their lives a dysfunctional,
emotional mess.

Klaas Tuinman
Deerfield, NS 2010
  • Do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
  • Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. ~The Desiderata~
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Of all our infirmities, the most savage is to despise our being.
-Michel de Montaigne
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