Everyone struggles with insecurities of some kind, at various different stages in life. Especially when making a big change. But if you’re stuck with the feeling all the time, this post is for you.
Insecurity stems from a lack of self-confidence, holding you back from the countless possibilities waiting for you. You leave your potential untapped and slip further down into the dark pit of self-doubt, eventually developing mental health disorders such as paranoia, anxiety, addiction, and narcissism.
Must you spend the rest of your life entangled in this mesh of insecure behaviour? That’s totally up to you. You can train your mind to unlearn negative thought patterns and inculcate the habit of practising positive thoughts. The new found positivity will make you more confident, chasing your insecurities right out of your life.
What Is Insecurity?
“Insecurity is an ugly thing, it makes you hate people you don’t even know.”Drake
When my best friend makes a new bff, I fear she’ll replace me in her life; that’s insecurity. When my husband hangs out with a female colleague, I immediately start imaging their happily ever after; that’s insecurity. When I see an Instagram post on my friend’s feed about his latest trip to New Zealand, I sulk at the monotony of my life; that’s insecurity. When I see a beautiful girl, I start counting the blemishes on my face; that’s insecurity. When my boss rejects my presentation, I start preparing for the eventuality of getting demoted or worse, fired; that’s insecurity.
I can keep citing examples, for there’s a myriad of those. But the underlying cause of insecurity in all these scenarios is the same- low self-esteem and the feeling “I’m not good enough”. When you perceive yourself to be inadequate, you fear losing all the good things in your life. Worrying and anxiousness becomes part of your daily routine. You feel helpless, flipping at the slightest indication of things not going as per your plan.
Who Is Most Likely To Feel Insecure?
A study by Research India Publications states, ’Emotional security is the product of environmental influences and not an inborn trait, and it’s susceptible to change.’ This study by Dr Kiran Sumbali Bhan and Shruti Raina found that some people were more likely than others to experience insecurity.
Following was the trend observed:
- Females were more insecure than males
- Individuals belonging to nuclear families were more insecure than those from joint families
- The middle child was more insecure than the youngest child
- The oldest child was more insecure than the youngest one
Insecurity is not limited to the above groups. More people are increasingly falling prey to self-consciousness and self-doubt. The reasons for the same are usually deep-rooted in past events from your life.
Where Does Insecurity Stem From?
Fear is the root cause of all insecurity. Why you’re so fearful depends on the various experiences you have throughout your life.
The Influence Of Parents
Psychologist Carl Pickhardt quoted to Business Insider, “Parents are hugely influential for who their children are and how they act”. Different parenting styles affect children in different ways, sometimes doing more harm than good.
Parents want their children to excel. It’s only natural for them to push their little ones to work harder. But when this pursuit of excellence becomes an obsession, it is the children who bear the brunt of their parents’ ambitions.
Over-involved parents are always telling their children what to do and making decisions for them. They’re always signing their kids up for more and more work, to be better than the other children of their age.
As these juveniles strive to meet their parents’ expectations, they end up feeling that they’re not good enough and that they need to do more to please their caregivers. Often, the sentiment stays with them for the rest of their lives.
Self-absorbed or absentee parents have negative influences on their kids lives in more ways than one.
Being over-involved in your children’s lives is one extreme. Being absent is another. Kids who grow up with self-absorbed or absentee parents don’t really know what to expect from their primary caregivers.
This lack of ability to set expectations accompanies them into their adulthood, resulting in fear and low self-confidence while handling difficult situations.
Many adults experience insecurities in their relationships. Rejection, dependence, and reluctance become an integral part of their attachment to their partner, due to the fear of abandonment. This translation of an emotional bond into fear is known as insecure attachment.
Insecure attachment develops at an early age when parents fail to meet their infants’ emotional needs. These children grow up to believe that their loved ones will either abandon them or hurt them in some way, either physically, or emotionally.
Recent Failures And Rejections
Happiness research states that recent life events determine 40% of our “happiness quotient”. If this 40% constitutes rejection, failure, and loss, we’re unhappy and prone to self-doubt.
Failure is part and parcel of life. But when it takes up a significant percentage of your life’s pie chart, it results in self-doubt, insecurity and the fear of failing again.
Comparison With Others
“The pinnacle of human consciousness must be the rejection of unhealthy competition, war, and violence.”Bryant McGill
Success is catalysed by healthy competition. But when you compare yourself to others all the time, it is detrimental to your mental health. It may not entirely be your fault that you’re always comparing others’ achievements with your own. Parents often compare their children’s performance in school to that of their peers, fueling this feeling of competition in the formative years.
What Are The Negative Effects Of Insecurity?
Insecure individuals struggle in various walks of life, especially in their relationships and at work. This, in turn, affects their overall emotional well being, resulting in various disorders.
Who likes lending ears to narcissistic people all the time? Listening to how they are superior at everything they do and the world would literally stop functioning without them?
You may think these people love themselves dearly. But as an article in Helpguide points out, narcissistic people love a grandiose, ideal image of themselves. Why exactly? Because it helps them avoid their own insecurities by constantly pointing out to others and more importantly, to themselves, how awesome they are.
Anxiety is often a result of insecurity and self-doubt. When you feel incapable of handling a difficult situation, you worry.
Anxiety and insecurity move around in circles. One causes the other, resulting in a deadlock. Take, for example, an upcoming presentation at work. You back out from being the primary presenter because you’re insecure. You think you won’t do a good job. Someone else grabs the opportunity and does a phenomenal job. He or she is highly appreciated. This leaves you anxious. You could have had that success, but you chose to back out. What if you hadn’t done as good a job as the actual presenter, you wonder. This cycle of insecurity and anxiety continues, leaving you right where you are while others climb the ladder of success.
If you inspect closely, all mental health disorders are interrelated. One can often be traced back to the other. Eating disorders are invariably known to have their roots in insecurity.
Bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa are two main types of eating disorders. The former refers to eating excessively and then vomiting everything out to avoid gaining weight. The latter refers to self-starvation and the loss of appetite.
Eating disorders stem from body image issues and weight insecurities. These disorders could be life-threatening and must be given immediate attention.
Paranoia is a thought process that keeps you from trusting others. You’re always looking for signs of danger and think that the world is out to get you.
Paranoia is usually a result of past experiences. Low self-esteem and insecurity often lead to everyday paranoia, which refers to feelings of abandonment by a spouse, fear of losing one’s job, fear of falling off the staircase and dying, and the fear of other unlikely situations.
Around 4% of the US population suffers from paranoia, as per The National Epidemiology Survey On Alcohol And Related Conditions.
How To Unlearn And Overcome Your Insecurities
I don’t speak for experts when I list what you can do to deal with your insecurities. But I do speak from personal experience. The below methods have really helped me overcome my insecurities, which were numerous to begin with.
Make A List Of All The Things That Make You Insecure
Before you take action, you must know what it is you’re taking action against. You don’t want to be shooting in the dark as it is not going to give you any results.
Make a list of all the things that scare you, or make you anxious. Peel all the layers of emotions. Don’t hold back. Once you know what makes you insecure, you can work on identifying why it makes you insecure. And how to deal with it.
Challenge Each Item On Your List
Insecurities are manifestations of your fears arising from your life’s past events. It’s time to challenge these irrational thoughts that are holding you back. Work on your list, top down or bottom up, as you prefer, and throw that insecurity right out the door.
Let me explain with an example. If you think you can’t make a presentation as good as your colleague, make it anyway. In the worst case scenario, his or her presentation will be chosen over yours. Instead of shying away from the situation, take inputs from others and strive to do better the next time.
If you’re insecure that your partner will abandon you, let them. If they do, they didn’t deserve you in the first place. But what if they don’t? You have to give them a chance. By being insecure, you’re engaging in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your insecure behaviour might actually push them away, leading to abandonment. Trust your partner and believe that they will not leave you. If they still do, it’s their loss.
Evaluate Your Past Achievements
Look at all that you’ve achieved in the past and evaluate how you did it. And then imagine if you’d held yourself back, you wouldn’t have achieved what you did.
Reflecting on your successes helps you put things into perspective. It gives you reassurance that you’re capable of dealing with whatever challenges come your way. Try to get past your insecurity with the same confidence you did the last time, and you’ll emerge victorious.
Small wins go a long way in increasing your self-confidence and making you less insecure. If you’re scared of making a big change or of undertaking a large project, start small.
Set small, realistic goals for yourself everyday. Once you achieve them, it’ll give your self-esteem the much required boost. You can then move on to bigger challenges. For example, if you’re worried about a big speech that you have to give in front of your entire company, start by performing in front of a small audience, maybe your family, and get feedback. Practise in front of an increasingly larger audience everyday, and you’ll eventually be ready for your big day.
Put Things Into Perspective
Spiritual leader Sadhguru helps put things into perspective when it comes to fear and insecurities. He says that we came into this world with nothing, and we will leave with nothing. Whatever happens during our journey on the earth, is a bonus.
Man wasn’t born to avoid life. He was born to embrace it and deal with whatever was thrown at him along the way. By holding back, you’re defying the laws of mankind. Your job is to put yourself out there and tackle life with dignity. Whether it is your job you’re afraid of losing or a loved one, you’ll deal with it when it happens. There’s no point in obsessing over it now, when there’s greater possibility of it never happening.
Place Faith In Yourself
Do you flip at the slightest criticism? I know I do. When someone points out errors in my writing, I feel my cheeks become red with anger. I can hear the criticizers saying I’m not good enough. But are they really saying that, though?
This anger stems from a place of insecurity and lack of faith, in myself. I believe that I’m not a great writer, and that’s the reason every time someone points out a mistake, or suggests an alternate way of framing a sentence, I take offence.
It’s important to have enough faith in yourself to be able to take criticism constructively. There’s no harm in accepting suggestions if it can help you improve your craft. A different way of doing something does not imply that your way is wrong or that you are not good enough.
It took me a long time to understand this, and it’s still an ongoing process. I hope that you too can trust your capabilities enough to be able to handle feedback and criticism positively.
If insecurities could disappear overnight, I would suddenly stop worrying about my business taking off, every waking moment. I would stop asking myself the same question over and over again,”Did i do the right thing by quitting my job?”.
Unfortunately, it takes time to heal. And it takes active effort.
Instead of constantly worrying about failure, I can put in the work, give it my best and hope to succeed. If I do, great. But even if I don’t, I’d still walk away having learned much more than I ever would have, had I stuck it out at my old job that I hated so much.
In either case, it’s a win win situation!