You are walking down the street feeling good, enjoying the nice weather when someone smiles at you. Instead of thinking they are friendly or attracted to you, you wonder if there is something in your teeth, or if a bird pooped in your hair. You get a promotion and immediately think it is due to pity or someone called in a favor. Or maybe, it was a bad pool. Maybe you were the only “qualified” candidate, and the office was desperate to fill the vacancy.
The fear and constant worry that you are not enough is called insecurity.
Insecurity is a cage.
Insecurity taints every single thought, feeling, and interaction. Every. Single. Day. It is like wearing mud-covered glasses on a foggy day.
Does it stop there? Oh no. Not at all.
Insidious insecurity also taints how you receive and perceive the accomplishments of others.
You go to a friend’s wedding and binge drink yourself into oblivion because obviously there is something wrong you if an underemployed, in debt jerk who still lives at home can get married before you. Cheers to perpetual singleness.
Insecurity is a disease. It grows and festers, attaching itself to every weak spot. Once attached, it eats away at the host—mind, body, and spirit. Insecurity, like mold, is difficult to eradicate. Eventually, if left untreated it forms a dark haze on the infected person’s life. More, control issues and aggression are often born out of insecurity.
The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.
Many believe the cure for insecurity is self-love. However, self-love requires the ability to see good qualities in oneself, instead of relying on the praises of others, which only perpetuates insecurity as the opinions of others are highly swayed by circumstance. While self-love is essential to becoming a balanced, happy person, it is not a viable first step to overcoming insecurity.
I think one step to reducing the effects of insecurity and move toward more productive behavior is to welcome vulnerability. At its core, insecurity, like perfectionism, is about controlling the projected image and seeking approval. In opposition, vulnerability means you allow yourself to feel all the overwhelming emotions that accompany life and face the things you are most reluctant to feel. Vulnerability is the courage to be as you are.
Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.
Allowing yourself to be human, to feel your joy, sadness, shortcomings, insecurities, achievements, and everything in between will give you the courage and peace to relax the need to control every nuance of your life.
Deep insecurity turns into control issues which can morph into anxiety and before long every single moment of life causes fear and anxiety of a potential unknown variable. Suddenly, you find yourself removing certain options because you can’t control the variables.
For example, you want to start dating, but dating online means potentially getting to know and like someone only to have them not be attracted to you once you meet. Meeting at clubs and bars are out of the question because drunk people frequent those places. What if they have an alcohol problem? You can’t marry an alcoholic and with your luck you’d most definitely attract a functional alcoholic. OMG, what if you are only funny and interesting when you drink? What if no one finds you interesting when you are sober? Before you know it, you’ve created a series of worst-case dating scenarios worthy of Lifetime and the Investigation Discovery (ID) channel, and you’ve scared yourself so much you not only do not date, you avoid and deflect attention from potential suitors. Cue the binge drinking at your friend’s wedding.
I think we are all insecure, and there is nothing wrong in accepting that. But the problem arises when we try to counter this insecurity by cultivating this illusion of control, and we start taking ourselves and everything we know too seriously.
Sushant Singh Rajput
To be clear, insecurity is part of life and is a vulnerability everyone will face. However, chronic insecurity—or rather, being an insecure person—is a pervasive, not situational issue. Therefore, overcoming insecurity requires a complete reset of thought processing. Insecurity fosters negative thinking. With practice you can break the cycle of negative thinking and self-talk it breeds. Mindfulness can be used as a method to help face insecurity and embrace vulnerability by keeping your thoughts in the present. Being present will allow you to both recognize and “fact check” destructive thoughts. Positive self-talk is another method that can keep the critical thoughts at bay. Affirmations are the easiest way to begin positive self-talk. An app called My Affirmations has multiple notification settings so you can wake up to a new affirmation or set it to send you a new affirmation throughout the day. Lastly, meditation, yoga, exercise, and acupuncture are all great options for controlling anxiety. Above everything, it is important that you understand that you are enough and not compare your life to others.