How To Deal With Someone Who Makes You Feel Insecure

How To Deal With Someone Who Makes You Feel Insecure

Dealing with someone who makes you feel insecure can be a real confidence killer. Whether it’s a backhanded compliment from a coworker or a constant stream of criticism from a family member, their negativity can leave you feeling drained and doubting yourself. But here’s the thing: you don’t have to let their issues become your own. With these 15 strategies, you can learn to set boundaries, build your own confidence, and maintain your sanity in the face of even the most insecure individuals. Remember, their behavior says more about them than it does about you.

1. Recognize it’s not about you.

Insecure people often project their own issues onto other people, Well+Good points out. Their snide remarks and backhanded compliments say more about their own self-doubt than your worth. Don’t let their negativity become your truth. Remember, their opinion of you doesn’t define you. You are not responsible for their insecurities, and you don’t have to take their bait. Keep your head high and don’t let them drag you down to their level.

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2. Set clear boundaries.

If someone consistently undermines your confidence, it’s time to draw a line in the sand. Let them know their behavior is not okay and won’t be tolerated. Be firm but calm — you don’t need to stoop to their level. Simply state your boundaries and stick to them. If they cross the line, call them out and enforce consequences. Remember, your mental health is not a negotiable.

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3. Don’t seek their approval.

Insecure people thrive on the power they have over other people’s self-esteem. The more you seek their validation, the more they’ll withhold it. Break the cycle by refusing to play their game. Your worth is not determined by their opinion of you. Focus on your own goals and values, and surround yourself with people who appreciate you for who you are. Seeking approval from an insecure person is like trying to fill a bottomless pit.

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4. Build your own confidence.

The best defense against insecurity is a strong sense of self, PsychCentral explains. Work on building your own confidence through positive self-talk, self-care, and personal growth. When you feel good about yourself, other people’s negativity has less power over you. Take up a new hobby, set small achievable goals, and celebrate your successes. The more you invest in yourself, the less you’ll need validation from other people.

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5. Call out backhanded compliments.

serious business guy looking to side

Insecure people often disguise their jabs as compliments. “You look great…for your age.” “That outfit is so brave.” Don’t let these backhanded remarks slide. Call them out in the moment and ask for clarification. “What do you mean by that?” “Can you explain why you think that’s a compliment?” Putting them on the spot forces them to confront their own rudeness and shows them you won’t be manipulated.

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6. Don’t take the bait.

Concentrated serious businesswoman checking email on smartphone and reading banking notification sitting in cafe interior.Pensive female owner sending sms on telephone connected to 4G internet

Insecure people love to stir up drama and provoke reactions. They’ll make inflammatory statements or poke at your insecurities just to get a rise out of you. Don’t fall for it. Refuse to engage in their petty games and pointless arguments. When they try to bait you, simply change the subject or walk away. Denying them the reaction they crave takes away their power and shows them you’re not an easy target.

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7. Surround yourself with positive people.

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If one of those people is constantly tearing you down, it’s time to reevaluate your inner circle. Seek friends and colleagues who lift you up, support your goals, and make you feel good about yourself. Positive energy is contagious — the more you surround yourself with it, the less room there is for negativity and self-doubt.

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8. Practice self-compassion.

Dealing with an insecure person can be emotionally draining. It’s important to be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion. Recognize that their behavior is not a reflection of your worth. Give yourself permission to feel hurt or frustrated, but don’t dwell on those feelings. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer a good friend. Remember, you deserve to be treated with respect and compassion, even (especially) from yourself.

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9. Use humor to deflect.

Sometimes, the best way to deal with an insecure person’s jabs is to laugh them off. When they make a snide remark, respond with a light-hearted joke or self-deprecating humor. This shows them their words don’t have power over you and diffuses the tension. Of course, be careful not to use humor as a way to avoid dealing with the issue. If their behavior becomes a pattern, it’s important to address it directly.

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10. Focus on solutions, not problems.

annoyed guy talking on phone

Insecure people love to dwell on problems and wallow in negativity. Don’t let them suck you into their vortex of despair. When they start complaining or criticizing, redirect the conversation towards solutions. Ask them what they think could be done to improve the situation, or share your own ideas. This shifts the focus from wallowing to problem-solving and shows them you’re not interested in indulging their negativity.

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11. Lead by example.

Pensive young man looking off in the distance while out for a walk alone in a park in spring

One of the best ways to deal with an insecure person is to model the behavior you want to see, Psychology Today advises. If they’re constantly putting themselves down, make a point to speak positively about yourself and other people. If they’re always complaining, make an effort to express gratitude and optimism. Your positive attitude may rub off on them, or at least show them a different way of interacting. Remember, you can’t control their behavior, but you can control your own.

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12. Seek outside support.

Dealing with an insecure person can be emotionally taxing, especially if they’re a close friend or family member. Don’t be afraid to seek outside support from a therapist, counselor, or trusted mentor. Sometimes, an objective third party can provide valuable perspective and coping strategies. They can also help you work on your own self-esteem and boundary-setting skills, so you’re better equipped to handle difficult people in the future.

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13. Know when to walk away.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, an insecure person’s behavior may not change. If their negativity continues to drain you and undermine your self-esteem, it may be time to distance yourself. This doesn’t necessarily mean cutting them out of your life completely (although in extreme cases, that may be necessary). It could simply mean setting stricter boundaries, limiting your interactions, or taking a break from the relationship. Remember, your mental health and well-being should always be a top priority.

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14. Celebrate your own successes.

Insecure people often feel threatened by other people’s success and may try to downplay or dismiss your achievements. Don’t let their negativity steal your shine. Make a point to celebrate your own successes, big and small. Share your wins with supportive friends and family, treat yourself to a reward, or simply take a moment to bask in your own sense of accomplishment. Recognizing your own progress and milestones can help buffer against people’s attempts to undermine you.

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15. Remember, it’s not your job to fix them.

serious blonde woman sitting on bed

Ultimately, an insecure person’s behavior and mindset are their own responsibility. You can offer support, set boundaries, and model positive behavior, but you can’t force them to change. Trying to “fix” someone else‘s insecurities is a recipe for frustration and disappointment. Focus on taking care of yourself and creating a life that makes you feel confident and fulfilled. If they’re ready to work on their own issues, great — but don’t make it your personal mission to heal them.

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Harper Stanley graduated from Eugene Lang College at The New School in NYC in 2006 with a degree in Media Studies and Literature and Critical Analysis. After graduating, she worked as an editorial assistant at The Atlantic before moving to the UK to work for the London Review of Books.

When she's not waxing poetic about literature, she's writing articles about dating, relationships, and other women's lifestyle topics to help make their lives better. While shocking, she really has somehow managed to avoid joining any social media apps — a fact she's slightly smug about.