Anxious Insecurity: Chronically Feeling Like We're "Not Enough"
I specialize in working with clients who struggle with what I call anxious insecurity, or the feeling of not being “enough” regardless of how much they achieve. These individuals often struggle with extreme self-criticism, routine self-sabotage, and struggle in social situations and relationships. I work with this population because this was my battle. I’ve spent the last 10 years focused on understanding why this problem has exploded in Western society and how struggling individuals can overcome it.
What It's Like to Battle Anxious Insecurity
Anxious insecurity isn’t a disease or illness. It’s the name for a specific feeling of lack that results in two distinct behaviors:
Behavior 1: We feel pressure to excel and become "enough."
Feeling insecure makes us panic. We don’t want to feel this way; we’d rather turn ourselves into someone who deserves love, belonging, and respect. If we’re not enough as we are, fine — we’ll make ourselves enough. We’ll run faster, jump higher, and push past exhaustion. So we climb mountain after mountain, constantly believing the next summit of success will bring us lasting relief … but it never does. No matter what we achieve, insecurity remains.
Behavior 2: We hide our truth & often struggle in social situations.
We can’t be seen in our state of lack — at least not yet. Some literally hide and avoid friends, family, and social situations. Others hide in plain sight by creating a social mask that hides their broken truth. Both strategies lead to isolation. Even if we create a mask and social image that gets us love and respect, being embraced our mask is not the same as being embraced for who we are. Feelings of isolation, insecurity, and loneliness remains.
A Quick Anxious Insecurity Questionnaire
- Feel like you’re “not enough” no matter how much you achieve – but also believe the next achievement might just be the one that will make everything right?
- Struggle with excessive levels of self-criticism and pressure, often to the point of sabotaging forward progress towards your goals?
- Often view yourself as undisciplined, lazy, and/or unfocused and believe you need to be harder on yourself in order to move ahead — even if this strategy has hurt you more than helped?
- Cycle between periods of energetic high achievement and depressive burnout and frustration?
- Wish your emotions could just vanish?
- Feel like you’re constantly being judged or analyzed by others?
- Dream of achieving something so great that EVERYONE will know your worth and value — including yourself?
- Believe that once you achieve something amazing you’ll finally be able to relax?
- Latch onto every one of our failures while ignoring your successes?
- Feel like your sense of worth is determined by how others treat you?
- Struggle in romantic relationships, especially in ones where you feel emotionally intimate and vulnerable?
If you have answered “yes” to the majority of these questions, there is a good chance you are struggling with anxious insecurity.
How Can We Break Out Of Anxious Insecurity?
At its core, anxious insecurity is driven by one thing: chronic self-rejection. Breaking free requires that we take a different approach. We need to see ourselves as an ally we want to help instead of an enemy we want to defeat.
This isn’t a quick and easy process. I know this from firsthand experience, as this was my fight as well. (Listen to the opening of any podcast interview for more on my story.) But while this journey can be hard, the benefits are worth it.
I have seen clients transform from nervous, self-doubting individuals into confident speakers who joke around and thrive in social situations. Individuals previously plagued with self-loathing have become models of self-compassion. They see themselves as deserving of love and respect — just like everyone else. Positive change is made without self-conflict. Many others who were afraid of romantic relationships started dating, while those who were stuck in toxic relationships found the courage to walk away.
Clients who repair their self-relationship are far more effective at reaching their goals. Energy that used to be wasted in self-conflict can now be directed toward external effort. As their insecurity melts away, a desire for authenticity replaces fear. Instead of trying to figure out who they “should” be, they can finally ask the big questions: Who am I and what do I want to do with my life? Such questions can only be answered when we are no longer at war within.