All of us struggle with insecurities of some kind. The insecurities that I struggle with are different from the ones that my friends, family, and coworkers deal with, but we can all relate that feeling insecure is not a pleasant experience for any of us.
The definition of insecurity is a feeling of being unsure about oneself and having a lack of self-confidence. Those feelings of embarrassment, self-doubt, and lack of stability can be really overwhelming and sometimes crippling.
We have all felt like that at times and we have all struggled with finding a way to stop letting insecurity gain a foothold in our lives. I can’t stand the idea that I am letting my fears keep me from taking chances or accomplishing something great.
In my desire to gain more control over my insecurities I have been digging into some strategies that I can use to force those feelings to take a backseat to my more positive emotions.
It’s fairly easy to talk about self-confidence and how we all should have more of it, but it is really hard to put those words into action and make confidence a habitual part our lives.
I wanted to explore self-acceptance and self-love in my own life, so I started my process by writing down words that I believe describe me. I listed the following things about myself; independent, strong, fitness professional, career woman, loud, and opinionated.
I sat back to look at my list and realized that those are great descriptions of my personality, but some of those adjectives should NOT be the things that define the deepest parts of me. One of the very first things that I thought of when defining myself is ‘fitness professional’.
I do really love my career, and I think that health and fitness will play a huge role in my life for the duration of it, but my profession now might not be my profession forever. The danger in defining myself by my job is that when it is not my job any longer it will leave me feeling like I have to figure out who I am again.
We have to know ourselves better if we are going to keep life changes from shaking the foundation of our self-image.
Interestingly, when I asked other people in my life to define me, they used a lot of adjectives that have nothing to do with my likes, dislikes, job, or quirks. My favorite example is when I asked one of my very sweet friends how she would define or describe me, she said, ‘valuable’.
As soon as she said that, I immediately felt a floodgate in my soul open up. THAT is how she defines me – as valuable to her. How freeing is that? That is also a very different from the words that I used to describe myself.
It made me think about how much I feel the same way about her and about others in my life. They are valuable to me, period. Not because of their personalities, their demeanor, the way that they make me feel, or the things that they can do.
They are valuable to me just because they are in my life and because I love them. This gives them the freedom to change, evolve, go through phases, and not be on top of everything all the time without the risk of loosing their importance to me.
In order to say that I truly love myself, I need to get more comfortable with saying that I value myself as much as I value my friends and family.
My sense of self doesn’t have to be found in my obvious abilities. It’s alright to be seen for just me, not for my talents or my success – even in my own eyes. That is not an easy thing for many of us to believe about ourselves, but when we do, we give ourselves permission to dream big and fail big without damaging our definition our ourselves.
Shaking off our pasts
Many of us are currently letting our pasts to define who we are now. It is very true that we are all products of our life experiences, but allowing regret, bitterness, or fear to dictate our decisions keeps us from living life to the fullest.
Those feelings also start to integrate their way into how we see ourselves. It can begin to cause doubt about what we are capable of because we fear failing like we have before. It can make us feel like we aren’t worthy of love and acceptance because someone in our past told us we weren’t.
Shaking off the things that are behind us takes a lot of guts, forgiveness, and acceptance. If we want a positive future, letting go of the past is essential. That baggage does not empty itself out or disappear if we just ignore it. We have to open it up and sort through it in order to get rid of it bit by bit.
This sorting process also has to come with the willingness to let those experiences make us stronger, better, and wiser than we were without them. We have to choose to grow from them instead of letting them hold us back.
Stomping out negative thoughts
Confusing self-deprecation with humility is easier than we might think it would be. We all do it, but we have to admit that it is not okay to put ourselves down or talk about ourselves negatively even when we are trying to make light of something that we are insecure about.
I tell myself that it is alright to think negative things about myself because it’s keeping me realistic about my abilities and about my flaws. It’s actually just an excuse to talk badly about myself though, and it doesn’t make me feel better, nor does it make anyone else in my life feel better about themselves.
Whether we say it to other, or just in our minds, we are doing the opposite of building confidence in ourselves when we trash-talk about ourselves. The honest thing to do is for us to get a little perspective on our situations, stop comparing our lives to other people, stop ruminating, and recognize that we are actually doing alright.
This mindset change keeps us from allowing our insecurities to plant deep roots in our negative mindsets.
On the other hand, constantly talking about ourselves and our abilities is also not the same thing as self-confidence. Feeling the need to constantly talk about ourselves and our success is actually a huge indication that we are trying to cover up some insecurities.
There is a space in the middle of self-deprecation and vanity where we are internally confident about ourselves despite our flaws, but we don’t feel the need to toot our own horns.
If others recognize our successes, great! I think that we should accept compliments when others recognize our hard work, but we should wait for them to acknowledge us on their own instead of loudly waiving it around all the time.
Our self-satisfaction should be enough for us to feel good about our successes.
If we are only looking for others’ approval to validate us, we will always be left feeling let down.
Taking time to care for ourselves
Caring for our bodies and our emotions is not selfish, but sometimes I feel selfish when I take some time to relax.
Most of us need consistent reminding that life gets hard and if we forget to stop and deal with what is happening to us on the inside we can quickly become unable to care for ourselves or anyone around us.
We all know that you are supposed to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help the person next to you in an emergency, and the concept holds true with self-care. Taking time to see a therapist, being in a quiet space, working out, etc are all important things that need to take priorities in our lives and none of them are selfish or a waste of time.
Those might be the most important things that we ever do for ourselves. One person can help hundreds of other people, but not if they aren’t doing anything to help themselves before they fall apart.
When we feel whole and good inside, we naturally want to help other people.
When we help other people, it makes us feel more complete and better inside.
The cycle of healing and helping helps us to maintain a stable sense of who we are and how we feel and equips us to deal with life’s ups and downs with sureness and courage.
Embracing our differences
Being confident in who we are as individuals is hard on its own, but especially in the time we are living in right now.
There are so many people who are constantly telling us who we should be more like. We should have really pretty homes, be able to juggle work and family and still look like a million bucks, we should be confident enough to travel around the world by ourselves maintaining our perfect hair.
All of those things are great, but they aren’t qualities that we all need to possess. We are each made up of a unique blend of characteristics that come together as a whole version of ourselves, and those blends don’t have to be the same as anyone else’s.
Also, when we try to manipulate that blend to make other people like us more we only end up in confusion about who we are at the core.
If the lives that we are trying to emulate is making us feel exhausted, then we need to take a closer look at that and make some necessary adjustments.
There is nothing wrong with seeking advice from others whose lifestyles or accomplishments we admire, but to think that we can turn out exactly like them would be foolish. We all have a different blend of circumstances, strengths, personalities, and dreams.
Not all of the things that make us different are what we think of as pretty, but once we are truly comfortable with the things about us that make us different we no longer feel like we have anything to hide and we are freed from some of the pressure that we put on ourselves to fit in. We might even be able to use those differences to help us stand out.
Finding our strengths
I am definitely guilty of looking at others and wanting to be more like them so that I can have a life that looks like theirs.
Instead, I need to look inside myself and find my own strengths and passions and use them to create a naturally satisfying life for myself.
We are all good at certain things, they might not be the things that we would choose to be good at if we got to pick that out, but they are our strengths and we should all be using them to the best of our abilities.
Reminding ourselves about what our talents are can be really helpful in picking us up and keeping us moving forward when things seem tough. Part of the problem with my list of self-defining words was that I listed some of my strengths in place of the things that make me who I am.
The list of the things that I am good at is different from the list of things that makes me who I am. I can work on my strengths and perfect them.
I can also lose some of my strengths if I neglect them. Talents can come and go from our lives – who we are should remain consistent in spite of that.
Our strengths can be a great avenue for us to gain confidence in our abilities to perform and change our lives.
Following our own moral code
As long as we are all living in line with our own moral compasses, we are treating others with kindness, and we are making the right decisions for us, we will live the majority of our lives in balance and harmony.
The topic of morals and ethics is a gigantic subject all on its own, and I don’t want to dig into that, but I do want to touch on the subject a bit to talk about the ways that our personal morals affect us individually.
If we are regularly making choices that conflict with our own internal ethical code, it is going to begin to eat at us from the inside out.
It might not even be something that we are fully aware of, but things we are asked to do to keep our jobs, maintain our social circle, or prevent an argument in our families may be changing the way that we think of ourselves.
It is impossible for us to be confident in who we are and what we are capable of if there is something deep within us that disagrees with that.
Making morally correct choices is usually difficult and it and can sometimes compromise our lifestyles but being able to stand behind the kinds of people we choose to be creates a self-confidence that cannot be manufactured or faked.
It is hard for a lot of us to openly admit and discuss our shortcomings and our insecurities, but I do believe that it makes us better at our jobs, better at our relationships, and better at caring for ourselves.
Starting with opening ourselves up to the vulnerability of seeing ourselves as we really are is the key to creating a better sense of self-confidence and sureness is who we are. We can then take steps to develop habits that will help us to thrive and live a more enjoyable and fulfilled life.
Our insecurities will never leave us entirely, but recognizing how to combat them and look them in the face will keep them from controlling our emotions and holding us back from amazing experiences.