What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly. – Carl Rogers
Are Your Insecurities Holding You Back?
Do you sometimes feel as though you have all the potential in the world, but for one reason or another you keep holding yourself back?
You have a vivid imagination and can visualize endless possibilities. In your mind’s eye, no goal is seemingly out of reach. But for some reason, in the real world, you just can’t seem to get yourself to do all the things you imagine. It’s as if something is holding you back from living life in an optimal way.
So, what is it? What is this thing that holds us back from tapping into our full potential? Well, it’s actually often not one single thing, but a multitude of things that come together to form the bedrock of all our insecurities.
What it Means to Feel Insecure
When we feel insecure about something, we are unable to fully trust ourselves at that moment. And without trust, there’s a shadow of uncertainty. This leads to hesitant behavior where we struggle to take decisive action toward a desired outcome.
Because of our insecurities, we tend to live with excessive anxiety and paranoia. We avoid taking proactive action and judge ourselves harshly when our lofty expectations are not realized.
While riddled with insecurity, we form unhealthy attachments to others. We use people as a platform to boost our own self-esteem. We rely on them to build our self-worth. Moreover, we secretly hope and pray that they will bring the best out of us. But time and again people let us down, and this just plunges us deeper down our insecurity spiral.
But why? Why do we do this to ourselves?
You feel insecure because you make irrational interpretations about yourself or about your ability to get something done. These interpretations stem from irrational beliefs that create a false reality about how you or things ought to be in particular situations.
You might, for instance, expect perfection from yourself. However, actual reality is very different than imagined reality. You simply cannot live up to those kinds of expectations, and you, therefore, succumb to the fact that you’re just not good enough.
When you feel “not good enough” this leads to a lack of trust. You just don’t trust yourself. You feel unworthy and incapable of fully being yourself when around other people. You worry about being judged, rejected or criticized. This paranoia holds you back from reaching your full potential. You struggle with low self-esteem and cannot live the life you actually want.
However, as insecure as you are, you certainly don’t want the entire world to know about it. And so you compensate in other ways to hide your flaws and shortcomings.
For instance, because you lack confidence you naturally compensate by acting cocky and arrogant in social settings. You might, for example, be excessively competitive, or maybe incredibly selfish, or even overly critical of others. These behaviors are, of course, not the real you. The only reason you indulge in these kinds of behaviors is to hide your insecurities and flaws behind a veil of arrogance. However, inside you are desperately crying out for help.
If, however, arrogance doesn’t drive your behavior, then you might come across as being very defensive and combatant. In such instances, you tend to blame people for your problems, or you may simply judge them unfairly. Furthermore, you’re very aggressive and get aroused by jealousy very easily.
Again, all these behaviors are not the real you. You are simply acting out to hide your insecurities. You don’t want the world to see the “flawed” you, and so you act out in these ridiculous ways to compensate for all your inadequacies.
I suspect that you would agree that this is no way to live. You can’t spend a lifetime living behind a veil trying to cover up your true authentic self. Yes, you possibly have several shortcomings and flaws, but we all do. Some people have even learned to embrace their insecurities. In other words, they haven’t allowed their insecurities to hold them back from being their true selves.
It’s, however, not always easy to work through our insecurities. They are susceptible and fragile things. But there is actually a process you can follow that will help you to progressively overcome your insecurities. All you need to do is to commit to working through it step-by-step.
Six Steps for Overcoming Your Insecurities
What follows is a six-step process you can use that will help you to work through your insecurities. These are progressive steps, which means that it’s important to go through each step fully before moving onto the next step.
I am confident that this process will work for you. However, you need to first commit yourself to the process. Moreover, you need to commit to putting in time and effort into this process. Only in this way will you see results.
Step 1: Identify Your Insecurities
The first step is all about awareness. You need to identify the types of insecurities you typically struggle with. This will require uncovering irrational beliefs and unhelpful thoughts that are at the core of your insecurities.
Take a moment to ask yourself the following questions:
What exactly do I tend to feel insecure about?
What uncertainty exists that is making me feel insecure?
What worries or fears are making me feel insecure?
Why am I feeling insecure about these things?
What underlying irrational beliefs are at the core of these insecurities?
What unhelpful thinking styles are at the heart of these beliefs?
What is the root cause of all these insecurities?
This is all about peeling back the layers. The deeper you go, the better you will understand how you have come to develop these insecurities.
The root cause of your insecurities often stems from a cluster of memories you have held onto for many years. These memories influence your decisions and actions. And they are, of course, a result of past experience. However, your interpretation of those experiences is the determining factor in how you feel.
At the heart of these experiences are a set of limiting beliefs and/or unhelpful thoughts that you have chosen to adopt. You must first work through these areas to begin weeding out your insecurities.
Step 2: Practice Being Objective
It’s time now to challenge your insecurities.
Your insecurities are nothing more than interpretations you have made about yourself, others, circumstances, or about what will or won’t happen. On the surface, they are just opinions and perspectives you have latched onto.
To change our perspectives we need to challenge them in some way. In other words, we need to think more rationally and objectively about our insecurities. And that can be done by asking yourself the following set of questions:
Is this really how things are or just how I imagine them to be?
How could things be different to the way I am seeing and interpreting them?
Given my predicament, are my expectations realistic in this particular situation?
How else could I view or interpret this situation?
How else could I view myself and what I believe I’m capable of in this particular situation?
What is a more realistic set of expectations I could create?
When you challenge yourself to think objectively, you start to question the validity of your experience. You throw doubt at the interpretations you have made and open the door to new possibilities and perspectives.
Step 3: Reflect on Your Successes
Your next step is to take a moment to reflect on your successes and accomplishments.
Have a think about all that you have done and successfully achieved over a lifetime. Consider the challenges you faced and how you overcame them.
Take into account the strengths that served you and the process you underwent to move through difficult moments that would otherwise have held you back. Ask yourself:
What have I excelled at in the past?
Why have I excelled at these things?
What strengths have helped me to excel in these areas?
What personal attributes were of value at the time?
How could I potentially bring that mindset into this situation?
Reflecting on your successes in this way helps put things in perspective. It reminds you that you are capable of working through difficulties in optimal ways. Moreover, it gives you the confidence and self-assurance needed to get through anything. As long as you bring those same strengths, attributes, and adopt the right mindset, anything is possible.
Step 4: Assess Your Circumstances
With a higher level of self-confidence at your disposal, you’re now ready to begin evaluating the nature of your circumstances.
When we feel insecure about something, we convince ourselves that things are going to be a certain way. Subsequently, we reflect on the worst case scenario, which forces us to retreat back into the safety of our comfort zone.
It’s difficult to take any form of proactive action when we’re riddled with uncertainty. What you therefore subsequently need is a little certainty.
Consider for a moment the worst case scenario and how you might potentially handle things. Consider also the best case scenario and what that might mean. And finally, reflect on the regrets that may result if you fail to overcome your insecurities. Ask yourself:
What’s the worst that could possibly happen if I take action despite my insecurities?
So what? Who cares? Things are probably not as bad as I make them out to be.
How could I potentially handle myself during this worst case scenario?
How could I possibly turn a horrible experience into an opportunity for something better?
What’s the best that could possibly happen if I take action to move beyond my insecurities?
What regrets might I have if I hold myself back and allow my insecurities to get the better of me?
The purpose of this step is to drop your guard — to let go of resistance. Moreover, it’s about exploring the possibilities and the regrets you will face if you refrain from taking action.
Step 5: Engage in Positive Self-Talk
It’s time now to prime your body and brain for action. One of the best ways to do this is to involve yourself in positive self-talk. For instance, repeat the following:
I am a confident and capable person…
I believe I can do this…
I will just take one small action to get the ball rolling…
I will learn from my mistakes and keep moving forward without hesitation…
The focus words here are “without hesitation.” The longer you take to decide whether or not you will take action, the more doubts will creep into your head and the more insecure you will feel.
This is where you just need to be decisive and use the power of momentum to get the ball rolling in a small way. What I mean by this is to just do something small that helps you move forward. This ain’t about finishing the race, it’s rather about going just a little further than before. That’s all it takes to start building momentum. 🙂
Step 6: Make a Full Commitment
The final step is to make a full blown commitment to overcoming your insecurities.
Making a commitment isn’t something you just do in your head. It’s rather something you adopt into your life.
To overcome your insecurities, you need to break away from old habits and patterns of behavior. You then need to replace those habits with empowering habits, daily rituals, and routines that support your goals and objectives. Moreover, you must condition a new set of beliefs that align with those habits. Only in this way will you acquire the mental strength and momentum needed to overcome your insecurities.
Guidelines for Overcoming Your Insecurities
Let’s now explore some further guidelines on how to begin working through our personal insecurities.
Just a heads-up that some of these guidelines will seem pretty straightforward. So much so that you may be tempted to disregard them entirely. However, when it comes to overcoming your insecurities, the smallest of things can make a huge difference. It’s therefore important that you commit yourself to working through each area progressively over time.
Practicing self-acceptance means fully accepting yourself despite your flaws, imperfections, and limitations.
Nobody is perfect, and expecting to be perfect will just lead to disappointment. We are all flawed in our own personal way. Instead of trying to hide those flaws, just accept how you are and embrace the person you have become.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that you should just accept your lack of knowledge, skill, or experience and just give up. No, that’s not what I mean. There is a difference between what can be changed and what must be accepted.
Change the things you can by committing yourself to self-improvement. However, for the things you can’t change, work on self-acceptance.
The same applies to any situation, problem or dilemma you face. There will be things you can change, and there will be other things that you must learn to accept. Understanding this difference is one of the keys to long-term happiness.
Finally, remember that even though you may not be perfect, that doesn’t mean you’re unworthy, undeserving, inadequate or incapable. Be grateful for who you are and for what you have become. Give yourself a little serving of self-compassion each day and do the best you can with what you have. 🙂
Accept that Everything is Subjective
We all have our own personal views about how things are and how they ought to be. How you feel about something is probably different to how I feel about something, and vice versa.
Everything is subjective. We interpret things our own way based on our past experience, beliefs, values, and expectations. It’s therefore not so much what happens to us that matters, but how we interpret those experiences.
Let’s try something. The next time you’re overcome with insecurity, get another opinion. Ask someone you trust to provide his/her perspective and interpretation of the situation. Ask them how they would respond in your shoes.
Possibly their perspective will differ to your own. This will prove to you that everything is subjective. And because it’s subjective, there is no right or wrong. It’s rather about the interpretations you make and ultimately how you respond that makes all the difference in the end.
Tame Your Inner Critic
One of the reasons we struggle to overcome our insecurities is because our critical voice opens a shop in our brain. It pitches a tent in the brain and starts selling us rubbish that we subscribe to without question. 😉
Yes, this voice does normally have very good intentions. It’s there to protect you from harm. However, protection comes with a cost. It costs you all the things you so desperately want in your life.
When this inner critic takes over, it convinces us that we’re just not good enough and that making mistakes will hurt us. But are these really truths? Well, it just depends. Our experience is after all subjective. It’s how we interpret things that matters, right? So, it, therefore, could be your truth, but at the same time, you have the power to create a new reality.
You hold the power to either subscribe to the rubbish your critical voice sells you, or to simply ignore it and walk away. The choice is yours to make.
Say YES More Often
The process of overcoming your insecurities is very much akin to flexing a muscle. As you continue to flex this muscle it strengthens and grows over time.
One of the best ways to overcome your insecurities is to say YES more often. Say YES to things that make you feel insecure. Say YES to new experiences and opportunities that force you to step out beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone. And say YES to all the things you feel uncertain about. Ask yourself:
What’s the worst that could happen if I say YES?
What’s the best that could happen if I say YES?
The more often you say YES to all these things, the more you strengthen your “insecurity” muscle. And the stronger it becomes, the more comfortable you will feel doing unfamiliar things that push you beyond what you thought was possible.
Focus on Becoming More Spontaneous
One of the best ways to train that “insecurity” muscle is to challenge yourself to live more spontaneously.
To live spontaneously means embracing a lighthearted nature, it means being more curious and adventurous. However, to live this way requires that you stop taking life so seriously.
Embrace joy, laughter, excitement and commit yourself to having fun. In fact, from time-to-time, why not make a fool of yourself? Embarrass yourself silly and learn to laugh at your goof-ups and mistakes. And then encourage others to do the same. 😉
Living life in this way will allow you the freedom to be yourself — to be your true authentic self. And living this way will provide you with the platform you need to overcome your insecurities.
Live by Your Own Rules and Standards
We often fall into the insecurity trap when we’re living by other people’s rules, standards, and expectations. We do this to impress others — to win them over. However, by trying to win other people over, we lose touch with what truly makes us happy.
Instead of living a life dictated by others, choose to write your own script. Set your own rules and personal standards for living, and then clearly define your personal boundaries. Use these boundaries as a deterrent that keeps people at a safe distance, so they don’t intrude on your happiness. Ask yourself:
How do I want to be treated by others?
What will I accept and won’t I accept?
What personal boundaries will I set that will give me the freedom to be myself?
This, of course, doesn’t mean that you should close yourself off from everyone around you. We all need special people in our lives.
You are the one who gets to choose how to set and when to set these boundaries. They are there to give you the personal space you need to be your true authentic self. They are also there to protect you from those people who constantly make you feel inadequate and insecure.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
One of the major obstacles you will face that will prevent you from overcoming your insecurities is the fact that you constantly keep comparing yourself to others.
When we compare ourselves to other people, we conclude that we either measure up or we don’t. When we measure up or surpass other people, this makes us feel powerful, confident, and strong. However, when we realize that we don’t quite measure up, that’s when our insecurities take over.
Comparing yourself to other people isn’t healthy. Everyone has their own unique set of experiences, skills, talents, abilities, and knowledge. Their strengths may not be your strengths. Likewise, your strengths may not be their strengths. It’s like comparing apples and bananas. They’re two different types fruits. There are no comparisons that go beyond that.
Okay, so let’s say you stop comparing yourself to others. That’s a great start. You will immediately find that a lot of your insecurities will wash away. But what now? How about making comparisons to ourselves, or to past performance? Well, that too can very quickly lead to insecurity phobia.
The key to letting go of all your insecurities is to make no comparisons. Just accept how you are and how things are at this very moment.
Commit to doing your very best in every situation, and leave it at that.
Remember, that your best will be different every time and is affected by your state of mind and unique circumstances. Therefore, don’t measure your best by what you did or failed to do in the past. The past no longer matters. What counts is what you did today. Measure what you’re capable of doing right now, and leave it at that.
Commit to Consistently Developing Yourself
One of the most effective ways for overcoming insecurity is to commit yourself to becoming a lifelong learner. This, of course, isn’t a quick fix for your insecurities. However, it is something that will play in your favor over the long-run.
When you commit yourself to becoming a lifelong learner, you take responsibility for developing your skills, for growing your knowledge, and for improving various aspects of your life.
As you learn and grow in this way, you naturally start feeling more confident, competent, and capable. And as you develop yourself in these key areas your insecurities typically begin to fade away without much effort. However, this process takes time, and you may not see visible results for a while. But as long as you stay committed, things will eventually pay off in the long-run.
Keep a Success Journal of Your Life’s Journey
Another long-term strategy that will pay off in the future is to keep a journal of your life’s journey.
Within this journal, you will keep track of all your personal successes and accomplishments. Moreover, you will list down all your positive qualities, attributes, and strengths that got you through challenging times.
Each day I suggest you take 5 minutes to journal how the day went and the positive qualities, attributes, and strengths that got you through that day. Moreover, list down all your successes and how they came about.
As you continue this daily journaling ritual, you will quickly find that it snowballs over time. All those positive things you wrote about will coalesce into a giant wave of confidence that pumps up your self-esteem and miraculously helps you to surmount all your insecurities.
Yes, this might seem too good to be true, but I assure you it will happen. It will just take time for your insecurities to progressively fade away. As long as you stick with it and stay consistent, that’s all that matters.
Having read through this guide, I hope you now understand what it takes to overcome your insecurities. It sure won’t be an easy process, and it could take a considerable amount of time. However, you have to start somewhere.
Begin by focusing on one single area of your life that you feel insecure about. Walk yourself through the six-step process and then begin incorporating some of the guidelines we discussed above. I guarantee you will see results. However, your long-term success hinges on how committed you are to follow through with this till the very end.
Be very careful though not to approach this halfheartedly. You need to be fully committed to making these changes. Only in this way will you progressively break free from your insecurities, and just maybe begin living up to your full potential. 🙂
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
Did you gain value from this article? Is it important that you know and understand this topic? Would you like to optimize how you think about this topic? Would you like a method for applying these ideas to your life?
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- 3 Reasons Why People Feel Insecure and How to Overcome Them @ Thought Catalogue
- 5 Things to do When You Feel Insecure @ PsychCentral
- 5 Tips for Overcoming Insecurity in Relationships @ Good Therapy
- 11 Things to Tell Yourself When You’re Feeling Insecure @ Bustle
- How Insecurity Happens and How to Overcome It @ Psychology Today
- How to Overcome Insecurity and Change Your Negative Relationship Patterns @ Tiny Buddha
- How to Overcome Insecurity: Why Am I so Insecure? @ PsychAlive
- How to Overcome the Insecurities that are Holding You Back @ Fast Company
- The Key to Overcoming Your Insecurities @ Psychology Today