Do you sometimes find yourself feeling overwhelmed with self-doubt and lack of confidence? Despite your accomplishments, do you feel like you haven’t gotten ahead? Do you feel that you don’t deserve lasting love and that partners will eventually leave you? Do you stay at home, afraid to venture out and meet new people because you don’t feel you have enough to offer? Do you feel overweight, boring, stupid, guilty, or ugly? These are all examples of insecurity and can be transformed once you understand what may be causing it and what you can do to overcome it.
Insecurity is a feeling of uncertainty, lack of confidence or anxiety about yourself and may produce:
- Fear, worry, and anxiety
- Restlessness, fatigue, and insomnia
- Avoidance of others
Security is the state of being free from any danger or threat and may produce:
- Boldness and a sound mind
- Rest, peace, and joy
- Love, confidence, and fellowship
- Thanksgiving and praise
If you have insecurities in your life, it may be because you are clinging to something that can easily be taken away from you whether material or a relationship. If you are anxious, worried or fearful, then you are most likely trusting in or holding on to something that can be taken away from you.
What causes us to become insecure?
The kind of childhood you had, past traumas, recent experiences of failure or rejection, loneliness, social anxiety, negative beliefs about yourself, perfectionism, or having a critical parent or partner can all contribute to insecurity. The following are the three most common forms of insecurity and how to cope with them.
1. Insecurity Based on Recent Failure or Rejection
Recent events in our lives can greatly affect both our mood and the way we feel about ourselves. The biggest negative contributor to happiness is the ending of a relationship, followed by the death of a spouse, losing a job, and poor health. Since unhappiness also influences your self-esteem, failure and rejection can have a major effect on your confidence.
Below are some tools you can use to overcome failure or rejection:
- Give yourself time to heal and adapt to the new.
- Get out and engage with life, following your interests and curiosity.
- Reach out to friends and family for distraction and comfort.
- Get feedback from people you trust.
- Persevere and keep moving towards your goals.
- Be willing to try a different strategy if necessary.
2. Lack of Confidence and Social Anxiety
Many of us experience a lack of confidence in social situations like parties, family gatherings, interviews, and dates. The fear of being evaluated by others can lead you to feel anxious, judged and self-conscious. As a result, you may avoid social situations, experience anxiety when you anticipate social events or feel self-conscious and uncomfortable during them. Past experiences can feed your sense of not belonging, not feeling important or interesting, or just not being good enough.
Being bullied or excluded from a group of friends in middle school or high school can continue to negatively affect your confidence as an adult. If you grew up with critical parents, or parents who pressured you to be popular and successful, you may also be overly sensitive to how others perceive you. The truth is, that most of the time, people are more focused on how they are coming across than on judging others. Those who judge and exclude are often covering up insecurities of their own and so their opinions may be less than accurate and they may value superficial attributes instead of character and integrity.
Below are some tools to transform insecurity from lack of confidence and social anxiety into security:
- Talk back to your inner critic. Remind yourself of all the reasons that you can be interesting and fun or would be a good friend or partner.
- Prepare in advance. Think of some things you can talk about like current events, movies you’ve seen, hobbies, your job, or your family.
- Avoiding social situations just makes things worse. So go to a party or on a date even if you’re nervous or have to go alone. Your anxiety should decrease once you get engaged with others.
- Set yourself a smaller goal, like talking to one new person.
- Deliberately try to focus on others to take the focus off of you. Become the observer and notice what other people seem to be feeling and doing. Do you notice any similarities or skills you can learn from them?
3. Insecurity Caused by Perfectionism
Some of us have very high standards for everything we do. You may want the highest grades, the best job, the perfect figure, the most beautifully decorated apartment or house, perfect kids, or the ideal partner. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always turn out exactly the way we want, even if we work extra hard. There is a piece of the outcome that is at least to some degree out of our control. Bosses may be critical, jobs may be scarce, partners may resist commitment, or you may have genes that make it difficult to be skinny. If you are constantly disappointed and blaming yourself for being anything less than perfect, you will start to feel insecure and unworthy. Beating yourself up and constantly worrying about not being good enough can lead to depression and anxiety, eating disorders, or chronic fatigue.
Below are some ways to transform perfectionism into security:
- Try to evaluate yourself based on how much effort you put in, rather than on the outcome, which is dependent on external factors.
- Think about how much of a difference it would actually make if you were to work ten times harder. Would the time and energy spent be worth it?
- Perfectionism is often based on all or nothing thinking, so try to find the grey areas. Is there a more compassionate or understanding way to view a situation? Are you taking your circumstances into account when you evaluate yourself? Is there something you learned or achieved even if the end result wasn’t perfect?
- Perfectionists often have conditional self-esteem: They like themselves when they are on top and dislike themselves when things don’t go their way. Can you learn to like yourself even when you are not doing well? Focus on inner qualities like your character, sincerity, or good values, rather than just on what grades you get, how much you get paid, or how many people like you.
Focus the session: Choose from one of these three examples of insecurity and write as much about it as you can. This may give you some insight into what you can do to begin feeling more confident and secure.
Create an action plan: What action are you willing to take? Write it down.