Insecurity comes in all shapes and sizes. It often develops in childhood, although many people do not suffer from it until adulthood due to adverse experiences. Low self-esteem can wreak havoc in a person’s life by affecting their social interactions, work relationships, and overall well-being. Most people will go to great lengths to conceal their insecurity, but it always manages to pop its sad little head up in the most unexpected places. Here are a few causes of insecurity:

Negative childhood experiences:

It’s unfortunate, but a significant number of children grow up in neglectful homes that lack comfort, love, or safety. They may be exposed to highly critical parents or caregivers who are sometimes emotionally, physically or sexually abusive. Sometimes an infant or young child fails to bond with his or her caregiver creating an attachment disorder. On the flip side, over-protective parents may inhibit a child’s natural curiosity to discover and experience things on their own, thereby lowering their self-confidence and creating insecurity.


In today’s digital society, bullying is no longer isolated to the school playground. More and more frequently, bullies are stalking their victims through text messaging, chat rooms, and e-mails, as well as spreading malicious rumors on social media sites. The shame and humiliation that are created when someone is a victim of bullying can have serious consequences if not effectively handled.

Learning disabilities:

When someone struggles with a learning disability or ADHD, they are often socially awkward and have inappropriate responses. Because they have trouble mastering certain skills they may act out and be disruptive, when in fact they are suffering from extreme low self-esteem. Because they are perceived to be “different,” they may withdraw from others or become victims of bullying.

Change in circumstances:

An individual’s self-confidence can greatly suffer when losing a job, being unable to fulfill a goal, having financial issues, or going through a change in a personal relationship. In these types of situations, people often feel like failures and will either take out their frustrations on loved ones or become depressed.

Body image distortions:

We live in a society that bombards us with ridiculous propaganda on how we should look, dress, and act. The anti-obesity messages the media constantly spits out often pushes people towards eating disorders and other unhealthy habits in an effort to live up to the hype. Of course, it’s not possible to live up to these unrealistic images, which sometimes creates a strong sense of unworthiness.

Anxiety disorders:

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults age 18 years and older (about 18%) in a given year, causing them to be filled with fearfulness and uncertainty.” An anxiety disorder can create an overwhelming sense of insecurity making it difficult for an individual to develop relationships. Often, they avoid social situations for fear of embarrassing themselves. This can interfere with work, school, and even family gatherings.

There are many other reasons why someone may suffer from extreme low self-esteem. Whatever the reason, it’s important to know that professional help is available which will allow you or a loved one to lead a happy, productive life. Please contact a mental health professional for evaluation and treatment, and learn how to enjoy life to the fullest.