I’ve noticed that people tend to believe that feeling insecure is a character flaw. While it’s true that we don’t value insecurity in our society, it may be worthwhile to re-evaluate that position. When we face an insecurity, it allows us to access vulnerability, which can be a very powerful experience.
Vulnerability is the state of being able to get hurt, while insecurity is a feeling of unease as a result of recognizing that you’re vulnerable. The fact is that we’re all vulnerable at times, but our perceptions determine how often and how deeply we feel insecure.
Insecurity is simply a part of the human condition. Many famous people have both suffered from it and commented on it over the years. One of my favorite quotes came from Georgia O’Keefe. She said, “I’ve been absolutely terrified every day of my life, but I’ve never let it stop me from doing a single thing.” Eleanor Roosevelt recommended doing “one thing every day that frightens you.” But others, like Carly Simon, let their insecurity cripple them for years.
How can you make the shift from being held back by your insecurity into a place of acknowledging it and even learning from it? How can you get a little more comfortable being vulnerable? Because the truth is, when we close down in an effort to avoid being vulnerable, we lose our ability to connect with others.
I think it’s important to make that shift in all areas of your life so you can live fully; facing your insecurities is a powerful tool for growth. Here are some steps you can take to face your insecurites head on and use them to help you grow.
1. Take an honest look at your insecurities. What are your triggers? Do you tend to feel more insecure in business situations or interpersonal interactions? Identify the “what” first: what are you insecure about? Try to get at least a general idea of what triggers one of your insecurities. Chances are, the answer will come quickly. You might not like it, but hang in there with it.
2. For each insecurity, ask yourself “why.” Can you remember the first time you felt this way? Can you remember something one of your parents, siblings or other important people in your life may have said to install that insecurity? For example, perhaps one of your parents cheated and you felt the effect it had on your other parent (and the family in general). This could make you insecure about your own partner cheating.
3. You will invariably find proof that this insecurity plays out in your life. Instead, look for examples when it didn’t. Continuing with my example, have you ever had a partner be faithful for any length of time? This is a powerful opportunity to shift your perspective, and it is your perspective that makes you feel insecure.
4. Look for clues to your part in the dynamic that creates your insecurity, and commit to changing your own behaviors. For example, are you overly suspicious or controlling about where your partner goes? You can’t make someone cheat, but you can certainly drive someone away with obsessive, controlling behavior like that.
5. Decide how you want to replace the insecurity. The great thing about being an adult is that you get to choose your thoughts and beliefs. Instead of fearing that your partner will cheat, what if you decided to attract someone faithful? What if you expected faithfulness and looked for clues to support that?
Steps three and four are where the growth happens. They may sound simple, but it takes consistent action to make the shift. Step five is an ongoing process: small steps taken consistently will shift your thoughts and feelings and you will begin to attract what you really want instead of what you’ve been accustomed to getting. Stick with it; it may take weeks or months to fully shift a long-held insecurity, but you’ll notice progress along the way. Celebrate your successes and remember: it’s ok to be afraid, but it’s not ok to let your fear keep you from living your life fully. Life isn’t a dress rehearsal! If you’d like some help shifting your perspective, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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