People all have their insecurities, even (or especially) those who appear the most confident. Suffering from the burden of insecurity can silence you when you want to be heard, engender painful feelings of shame, ignite anger and jealousy, and cause doubts and overthinking. Your goal should not be to get rid of insecurities, because that is not realistic, but to manage those feelings so that they do not hinder you from living boldly.
Here are some signs that insecurity is infiltrating your life:
- You feel inadequate and undeserving.
- You think that your ideas aren’t important enough to speak.
- What others think matters more than what you think.
- You often think, “If I could just change this one thing about myself…”
- Your emotions spiral out of control when you feel criticized or called out.
- People have said you are the jealous type.
- It’s difficult for you to make decisions.
- You posture or tell white lies to make yourself look better.
Even if only some of these apply to you, it is a universal need to learn the skills to face down insecurities. Here are some ways to bolster your sense of self and prevent insecurities from getting you down.
- Use positive self-talk. When feeling insecure, you may start having thoughts like “I’m stupid, I don’t matter, no ones likes me,” etc. Do not let your mind take these thoughts and run with them. Whenever you catch yourself starting to spiral into negative self-talk, it can be helpful to use a mantra such as “I am human, I am here, and I am doing the best that I can.” You could also make a list of positive thoughts about yourself to refer to in times of self-doubt.
- Don’t make assumptions. If you feel criticized or put down by someone, don’t assume that was their intention. Even if it was, don’t assume that what they are saying about you is true. Ask yourself, “Do I think I am this way?” Really ponder the answer, and if not, ignore it. You know yourself best.
- Do things that make you feel accomplished. The best way to start feeling secure with yourself is to go out and do things of which you can be proud. Have you always wanted to run a half-marathon? Get on a training program and sign up for a race. If you have a favorite hobby, get back into it or take it to the next level. It’s important to do these things for yourself, not for the approval of others. When you are proud of your own accomplishments, others will follow suit.
- Acknowledge your good qualities. Everyone has flaws- a big nose, a sordid past, cellulite, or an inability to do math. Instead of focusing on these small things, turn your attention to the great qualities in you. Maybe you are a natural leader, you have a great smile, or a kind heart. Play up these parts.
Also, remember that no one sees your flaws as much as you do. It’s like when you were in middle school and thought everyone would notice that zit on your face- and in reality you were the only one who paid that much attention to it.
- Take chances. Don’t let self-doubt keep you from chasing your dreams. Consciously take some risks that you wouldn’t normally feel comfortable doing due to the fear of failure. Go ahead and ask your boss for a raise, kiss that girl you took to dinner, or submit that poem to a magazine. Sometimes you will fail, but you’ll survive. Other times, you will succeed and taking that chance will pay off more than you could imagine, because it will give you a rush of self-confidence.
- Realize that sometimes it’s them, not you. Everyone is going through something that you may know nothing about. If someone rejects you, calls you out or insults you, it may not be about you at all. Get outside of yourself, realize it’s not all about you all the time, and don’t take it to heart. Instead, ask yourself what this person might be feeling that would make them do that.
- Fake it ‘til you make it. You may not feel confident on the inside, but acting the part can help you feel more secure. The way you feel will adjust to how you carry yourself, and the two will eventually become more congruent. However there is a big difference between overconfidence and posturing and security in oneself. Be careful not to project that you are better than others, impervious to hurt or shame, or perfect. Those are signs of insecurity. True self-confidence is knowing that you are good enough, but not better than others, gifted but not God’s gift to man, and worthy but not worth more than another’s self-worth.
No one feels 100 percent secure all the time, and self-confidence may fluctuate throughout the lifespan. These guidelines can help you discover ways to bolster your confidence, but if you feel that insecurities are ruling your life, Symmetry Counseling is here to help.
Author: Grace Norberg, AMFT