This week I’ve been thinking about insecurity, AKA: the act of being too hard on yourself, and how we can work on overcoming doubtful thoughts about ourselves and where we are in our lives. First of all, let’s accept that it’s gonna creep up on us from time to time. We all get insecure and, ya know, maybe a little bit of that is good because it keeps us humble.
But, consistently being your own worst enemy is just a little wild, right? I’d even call it counter-productive. So, it’s been on my mind and these are some ways that I’m trying to fend it off when need be.
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1. Identify what kind of insecurity you’re really dealing with.
Physical insecurities can be alleviated with some healthy habits, if it’s about who you are then it’s gonna take some soul searching, and if it’s based in nervousness about making big changes in your life it’s going to take some courage and the ability to co-exist with a little fear. So, take a second and just really acknowledge which kind you’re dealing with in the moment.
2. Try Not to Take Yourself Too Seriously
Not everything has to be a big deal and nobody’s perfect. This is one that I have to remind myself of often because I have the tendency to overthink and my personality tries to get all intense on me sometimes. But, when you’re living in a mindset that’s too serious, everything seems so permanent…and that’s just not reality. If we wanna make moves and allow ourselves to take some healthy risks, we’ve gotta maintain the ability to let things slide and trust that we can adjust to unexpected circumstances. You’ve gotta be able to say, “Oh well” to certain things. Change is just so possible and, damnit, if it isn’t reliable. I mean, if you invited Change to a party with a Facebook invite, it’s not gonna hit “Maybe”. It’s gonna confidently reply with “Going”, show up to the event early, and bring a shareable snack.
Here’s another thing: You know how if you pay attention to your inner monologue, there seems to be two different people in there? There’s one that’s you and then there’s like a little critical judge in there that’s always trying to make you doubt yourself. Give your inner judge a visual and make him look absurd. Maybe it’s an actual little judge in robes. Maybe he’s got something in his teeth or toilet paper perpetually stuck to the bottom of his shoe that he’s destined to never notice. Or maybe it’s like a judgmental old woman neighbor type that just never seems to approve of how you take out your garbage. She’s fond of floral shirts and maybe her hair kinda looks like cauliflower. I dunno. Take a second to picture your inner critic. Put it in a weird outfit and make it silly because you want to make it easier to take this voice less seriously. So many of us let those little critics convince us that we’re not worth it. What is “it”? Love, success, happiness, acceptance. Fill in whatever makes sense to you there. But, look how much easier it gets to ignore it now that your little mind critic looks ridiculous. Do you remember when they used the “Riddikulus” spell in Harry Potter to turn their worst fears into comedic nonsense? Same thing, but it’s just in your own brain and we’re not magical. So, that part sucks, but there’s not much we can change about it.
3. Make some choices and learn to accept a little Discomfort.
When we feel insecure about ourselves and are made to feel “wrong” by others or by our own thought patterns, we tend to seek a way to numb ourselves. Whether it’s food, alcohol, drugs, sex, or disappearing into fake worlds…ya know “insert your vice here”…it’s all for the same reason. We’re doing all that to escape the moment, when this moment is all that we really have. Our past is a memory and our future is conjecture. BUT, we can make choices NOW that can affect our future. It’s THIS moment that we have the power to do something to get ourselves closer to the things that we really want. Here’s where we really have to struggle against the need for instant gratification and detachment and fight those insecurities so we can take that next small step that will lead us to a greater goal and, hopefully, greater confidence.
Challenge yourself to resist the path of least resistance sometimes. There’s huge danger in becoming too comfortable and just making it through the day. We become thin facades of who we should be. Maybe not always in a noticeable way. Maybe just enough to hold ourselves back. Don’t let insecurity about the outcome deter you and acknowledge that when you’re about to step out of that comfort groove that you’re gonna feel a little panicky. Things are gonna get a little slippery. You’re probably gonna get real nervous and be tempted to buy a fidget spinner. But, you have to lean into that discomfort and keep going with a pragmatic dedication to adapt to whatever new situations present themselves.
4. Be aware of who you keep around and who’s advice carries weight.
Insecurity can be perpetuated by the people around us. We tend to feel pressure to conform to what fits in our social circles. To what work needs us to be. To what others expect us to be. Because, guess what, as humans we desire connection and acceptance. Big keyword there, am I right? I want to be “accepted”. You wanna avoid being affected by people who try to make you feel small. People that love us or care about us can even be sources of fear because they’re full of warnings. They want us to be safe so they may encourage us to stay still. Understand that their warnings are coming from a good place, but that you can’t let that foster insecurity in you.
We can’t let insecurity get us off track even if the results take time. That’s the price we pay for living in a culture that prizes instant gratification. Fight that. The important thing is that you’re doing something and that you find people that will encourage you to branch out and help motivate you when what you’re working towards is simply a process.
Also, sometimes our insecurity is based on the fact that we don’t think we’ll be accepted as our true selves and, if we aren’t, that it will break us.
That’s just not it. It won’t break you. It’s OK when someone doesn’t get you. It’s OK to be hurt by it and it’s OK to let that go and become a little more resilient every time. It’ll force you to move on and find the people that should really be apart of your tribe. Ya know? When we’re even just trying to become more aligned with who we really are, I believe that we exude an energy that can even attract those who we don’t need to feel insecure around. And that’s when it starts to get really spicy.
5. Know yourself and work on yourself.
Quite frankly, when you have a firm grasp of who you are, there’s a lot less room for insecurity to survive long-term. We gotta stop blindly feeling and reacting to life and learn to ask “Why?” When you can answer “Why?” about who you are, the choices you make, and about your goals, you’ve just given yourself so much more ground to stand on in the face of outside influence and judgment. Just think about that for a second…to just wander around the planet not trying to understand your own reactions and thought paradigms? Now, that’s some chaos and a great way to waste a whole bunch of time.
How can we be expected to confidently navigate this world and its craziness if we haven’t looked inward first to make sure we’re on track? Stop worrying about what other people are doing and worry about what YOU should be doing right now.
Now, when the phrase “I’m not good enough” pops up, I replace it with “You’re being dramatic. Are you trying your best and what can you learn from this?” Because damnit, nobody’s perfect, so maybe we approach it from a place of “I’m good enough, but always working and willing to be better.”
So, even when we’re in the most insecure of places (and trust me, I get there), we need to nurture a feeling of hope. Because the hopeless make poor decisions. Train your brain, even when you don’t believe it, to decide that tomorrow will be better and that your sometimes uncomfortable choices to bank on yourself today will matter.
All in all, to resist unhealthy levels of insecurity, we should direct our energy towards building self-esteem, self-knowledge, and self-compassion for the moments we don’t meet up to sometimes irrationally high expectations from outside sources and ourselves. Own yourself and treat others in a way that will encourage them to be more confident in themselves. You don’t know what inner insecurities they could be struggling with. Doing all those things then makes us better for the people around us.
There’s a very popular personality test you can take based on the Myers-Briggs personality theory. You’ll end up with a 4-letter personality type that’ll get you thinking about who you are and the way you react to the world and people around you. You can find it at 16personalities.com. I’ve bothered several of my friends to take the test this week, and now I’m highly suggesting it to you just to get your wheels turning.
If you’re curious…I’m an INFP.
Also, here are two book suggestions I’d like to leave you with because they’ve played a solid part in helping to create the thought patterns that I’m sharing with you:
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