What is an insecurity?
Insecurity is the habit of doubting yourself and your abilities. You feel inadequate and inferior. You feel like everybody else knows more than you, has more friends than you, has better skills than you and in general is better than you.
There are some key issues when it comes to insecurity:
1. Measuring yourself to others or to an arbitrary “standard”
Insecure people have a habit of measuring themselves to others or to some arbitrary standards and when they see they don’t measure up, they feel bad about themselves. Even worse some people measure themselves to an ideal or perfect self. They set themselves up to be judged against unrealistic expectations.
I don’t like sports metaphors but they serve to deliver the point better. If Kobe Bryant or LeBron James measured themselves against Michael Jordan, they would feel extremely inadequate and lose their confidence. Why? Because for every game where they don’t feel Jordan-like they would beat themselves up mentally and try harder. What happens when an athlete tries too hard? Disaster!!
Instead if you listen to their comments when a reporter brings up the comparison? They invariably say: “Mike was a great player one of the best out there but I will never be like Mike? Why? Because I’m LeBron and all I can be is the best LeBron possible.”
While they realize the need to improve themselves, they invariably refuse to measure themselves against a standard. They will strive to be the best they can possibly be by improving their game but they will not measure themselves against someone else.
2. Lack of self-acceptance
Typically people who feel insecure about themselves have things about themselves that bother them that they hate or don’t like. This follows the idea of the first point. When you compare yourself to others you do it because you’re rejecting yourself on some level and refusing to believe that you’re good enough.
For example one guy thinks he’s too short for women to find him interesting, another guy thinks he’s too fat to go out and meet people.
These things are the holes in your foundation that undermine your confidence. No matter how hard you try to ignore them, hide them or pretend they’re not there they will continue to chip away at your confidence in the background and ultimately bring down the house.
There are two things I want to make very clear about accepting your perceived limitations. First it would be stupid to use the excuse of “working on these issues” to prevent yourself from taking action. We’ll talk about this more later. Second, just because you have these issues that bother you it doesn’t mean that you won’t take care of them at some point. Acknowledging them and then figuring out a way to deal with them is the first step to improvement.
You want to get to a point where you’re completely comfortable with them. It doesn’t mean that you stop to improving yourself, it means that you get to a point mentally where these limitations and shortcomings no longer affect you emotionally. They don’t make you sad, depressed or angry at yourself. In a way you make peace with them and you become comfortable with who you are.
Probably the absolute worst thing you can do with these insecurities and perceived limitations is to deny them, ignore them or overcompensate for them. When you do this what ends up happening is that if someone insults you on one of these “hot buttons” you’ll almost always have an emotional reaction, either an outburst or a retreat with the tail between your legs.
Reporter: “But aren’t you too short to play?”
Guy in denial: “What are you talking about? I’m not short. I’m fine.” He then proceeds to try too hard to impress people to show them that his height is not really an issue (when it clearly is) and ends up hurting himself.
In fact if you notice in social circles or in conversations people will try to push your hot buttons and try and get any sort of reaction from you just for their own entertainment or whatever. If you pay careful attention when you get the other person to cry, get angry or any sort of emotional outburst people will generally respect that person a lot less than they did before. However if the insult or joke doesn’t faze you, if you laugh at it, make a joke yourself or generally treat it as a non-issue then people will respect you more.
How to solve these issues
1. Self Acceptance
Self acceptance if the right way to start dealing with them. It’s really simple. If it’s not an issue with you, it won’t be an issue with anybody else.
You start by accepting yourself so you can build a solid base, a mental platform which you can then use as a springboard to improving yourself. It means that you become a lot more genuine and a lot more comfortable with yourself which is a prerequisite to lifelong confidence.
Now acceptance has a little bit of a negative connotation because it implies that you give up trying the change yourself. This is incorrect. Acceptance in this context has more to do with coming to terms with something, acknowledging it and then figuring out a way to deal with it right then and there. This step is crucial!! Without this step acceptance means giving up.
The solution that you come up with doesn’t have to be a permanent one. It could be a “quick and dirty” temporary thing that you do until the issue is taken care of, or it could be a permanent solution which you get done once and then forget about. The secret is for you to fully accept that this is the best solution available to you right now.
Now there are some things that you cannot fix, like physical limitations. For example if you lost a limb in an accident or if you’re forced to be in a wheelchair for the rest of your life. While modern medicine has made tremendous progress, it doesn’t mean that you should be depressed until you find a solution. You have to learn to acknowledge it and make it a non-issue.
One thing you can do right away is to reframe the issue in a positive way. “Yes I am the shortest guy on the team, but I’m also the most energetic one. I’m the human battery that keeps this team going.” This is also an excellent way to realize your unique value in the process or the situation because every limitation is excellent grounds for realizing your unique value and contribution to every single situation. How’s that for a reframe!!
As an exercise make a list of all the things that you currently hate or don’t like about yourself. Include as many things as you can think of, go as deep as you can go, add things that you know have an emotional effect on you.
Then look at that list, acknowledge them and work on accepting them and making peace with them. You should strive to get to a point where you feel ok with them and you feel they don’t affect you anymore.
Realize that this may not happen on the first try or on the tenth try. This is ok. It’s part of the process to learn how to be ok with your own limitations and shortcomings. For example if you are short and skinny but have aspirations of playing in the NBA you have to come to terms with the fact that it’s never going to happen.
Yes there probably were people who refused to let their limitations define their life and what they could and couldn’t do and you shouldn’t be discouraged. You just have to come to terms with that possibility and move on. If your desire is strong and your absolutely 100% committed to doing it then it may work out but you need to realize that it won’t be easy.
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