As human beings, insecurity is part and parcel of our mental makeup. It’s how we humble ourselves, after all.
Sometimes, however, insecurity seemingly becomes an autonomous being of its own, making us feel uneasy in our own skin. We second-guess our achievements, have trouble accepting compliments, and get defensive over the littlest slights. Some of us overcompensate for insecurity, bullying and stage-hogging when we have the chance. In one case, a football coach got rid of his best players due to sheer insecurity.
We all have something to be insecure with. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this right now.
To rectify any problem, you need to admit that there’s a problem. The first step toward blunting your insecurity is to admit that your facade is not as steely as you hoped it to be. Gather the courage to tell this to a close friend or relative; it will put things in perspective. Now you are not expected to go shouting your insecurities from the rooftop, but at least make an effort to trust others to listen without judgement. And if they should use such info against you, then they have done you the greatest favour of narrowing your social pool to the ones who matter.
Insecurity stems from a deep place — and it has a microphone. Make it your goal in life to hush this snarky voice. The microphone of insecurity builds itself in childhood and earlier moments of our lives, when something traumatic or painful could make its greatest and most lasting impression. We will spend the next years of our lives trying to shake off the debilitating, paralysing thoughts (“You are nothing,” “You are not rich,” “You will never be beautiful”) created by this inner critic.
But to silence this voice, you have to give it voice. Write down the negative thoughts as if you’re taking the point of view of the voice. Then you can connect these thoughts to specific incidents in your life. After that, respond in kind and kindly to those mental attacks, the way you would to an overly critical friend or relative. Next, find out how your critic has been stymieing your full potential. Then make an effort to follow the very behaviour your inner critic would not want you to.
Sometimes this inner critic will have an ally outside yourself, and it may be the least you would expect. Examine your company: Do they always bring you down? Surround yourself with company who bring out the best in you. For the same reason, avoid social media — it is composed of people, after all, who can put you down at the click of a finger. Avoid showbiz and beauty magazines too; they could trigger self-pity.
One of the most common provenances of insecurity is the outer self — the body. Many times we feel like we’re cut from a different mould and want to punch the mirror as a result. One of the best ways to save yourself from the trap of negative physical comparison is to travel abroad. There, you will meet a rich diversity of people, with ethnicities you only have a superficial notion of. Then you will see your ideals of beauty change as surely as time zones switch. It will hit home: Beauty is subjective, and you should not conform to your community’s parochial perspective of it. Work on being the best version of yourself.
Feeling insecure about your partner’s fidelity? Psychology Today teaches this technique for getting out of the jealousy-insecurity rut. In this technique, called mental contrasting, you picture yourself achieving something you’ve always wanted, i.e. overcoming your insecurity, and all the feelings that would go with such achievement. Then plan how you’ll get through the impediments to this goal. All too often, you will discover that the best way to do this is to bring it all back to the present. Chase negative affect away by being mindful and appreciative of what’s in front of you.
Again, insecurity is the surest sign that we are human. We are not divine, with the power to be 100 percent secure in our being. Fearlessness is an illusion. You will never be without fear, doubt, or insecurity. The answer is not in eliminating insecurity, but in how you live without it. The trick is just to believe you can.