I am insecure — 10 antidotes for dealing with insecurity.
By Jeanine van der Vyver.
“Like a Columbus of the heart, mind and soul I have hurled myself off the shores of my own fears and limiting beliefs to venture far out into the uncharted territories of my inner truth, in search of what it means to be genuine and at peace with who I really am. I have abandoned the masquerade of living up to the expectations of others and explored the new horizons of what it means to be truly and completely me, in all my amazing imperfection and most splendid insecurity.” ~ Anthon St. Maarten
I am insecure — three of the most difficult words to utter to yourself, and even more frightening to mention to anybody else.
The very definition of being insecure is feeling unsafe, and being upfront about feeling unsafe inevitably also makes you unsafe. Like an outbreak of flesh-eating during a zombie apocalypse, when you are insecure, your feelings are not safe. Your feelings are completely rebellious and out of control. They have taken a nosedive into your mind and are running rampant with a machine gun, destroying all those once secure boxes that were restraining the negativity within. And once that safety has been compromised, the escaped negativity poisons everything.
So what is the antidote for insecurity?
The antidote, my sweet friends, is to stare insecurity in the face and say a big: Fuck You. Fuck you, insecurity — I too can arm myself with a powerful machine gun and shoot you in the face because I am more powerful than you are. Instead of allowing you to poison every thought that I have, I am going to stop you in your tracks. I am going to identify your presence but I will not allow you to proceed any further, for my weapon — self-love — is far more powerful than yours.
#2 Practice being objective. Imagine you are a completely different person. Be brutally honest with yourself and write down why you think you are not good enough. Seek the truth, instead of beating yourself up to find the true source of your insecurity.
#3 Compare your responses to what others have told you or past experiences that were both good and bad. Naturally, it is easy to remember times that left a mark due to it going really well or really badly, and the run-of-the-mill experiences slip through the cracks. Remember them!
#4 What is the worst that could happen, realistically? Use the remarkable gift of thinking ridiculous judgments to yourself, and instead use that energy to recognize how preposterous they are and then destroy them. If you cannot do this alone, run it by someone whose insight you trust.
#5 Positivity beats negativity, every time. Plus, it feels great. Insecurity springs from having high expectations. Find qualities about yourself that are good. When you pay all your attention to the negative aspects about yourself, you forget those positive critters lurking in the shadows. Especially if you have been doing it for a long time. Shine a torch on the shadows, and invite the positive to come out of their hiding place.
A good way of doing this is to tell yourself two sincerely positive things for every negative. They do not have to be related.
For example, if you say something stupid in company, and internally tell yourself, “I am so pathetic,” then also remind yourself, “But I am a great cook, and I have really sexy legs.” It seems strange, but you are shifting your negative attitude by praising yourself.
#6 Surround yourself with nurturing company. Give critical and judgmental company the boot. A few of these friends is perfectly okay, but being completely surrounded by bloodsucking leeches creates an environment that you will absorb as part of your thinking.
Even if the criticism is not directed at you — for example, if your friend is pointing out a ridiculous outfit on someone else, but you happen to like the outfit — you may lose confidence in your opinion. Replace these friends with individuals who have pleasant positive things to say and are less likely to pass judgement.
#7 Instead of knocking people down, raise them up. Putting people down may give you the elated feeling of being better than them, but essentially, you are knocking yourself down by being judgmental. On the other hand, if you make people feel better about themselves, you will have better luck making friends, creating long-lasting relationships and elevating yourself through positivity.
#8 Be a ‘Yes’ person! Start thinking ‘Yes’ more often. If someone, who you have absolutely zilch in common with, asks you to hang out, then before immediately thinking ‘No’, say ‘Yes’. By automatically thinking of all the reasons why you should not, you shut yourself down and deny yourself a potentially positive experience.
Try thinking about all the reasons why you should say ‘Yes‘, even if all the ‘No‘ answers are true. The ‘Yes‘ outcome could lead to something new and unexpected, giving you a new story to tell.
So say ‘Yes‘ and see where the path leads you. If, in fact, your original judgement about the person was correct, you have the power to overcome it, and if nothing surfaces from the experience, you can be confident in the fact that you are a positive and outgoing person who is brave enough to try new things.
#9 Do something exciting every day. You do not have to break any laws or venture into dangerous territory. Maybe explore a part of your city you have never seen, or go to the new restaurant with ethnic food you have never tried. Try ‘New‘ as often as you can.
If you are self-conscious about your personal image, then visit a clothing store that you would never normally visit and try on clothing that you know does not suit your tastes. Look at yourself in the mirror, and have a chuckle about how funny you look.
There are two outcomes to this. You may discover something that actually suits you. Or you can simply put your familiar clothes back on and they will seem a little less ludicrous.
#10 Allow the following barbed wire protection to surround the negative thoughts and feelings in your mind — keeping them safely restrained:
If you feel embarrassed by something you said or did, laugh at yourself. Beating yourself up or getting angry will leave a scar, eradicating your chances of enjoying the situation from then on out. If you lighten your thought load, you can move on and keep enjoying.
Start a new hobby or activity by yourself or in a group, and practice as often as possible. Take a cooking class, learn a new sport, play an instrument, take up photography or learn a new language.
Even if you are embarrassingly bad at it, you are acquiring a new skill, and if it is within a group setting, you have the opportunity to build new relationships.
Help people, even in the smallest of ways. Helping people is not only performing an act of kindness, but that positive feeling seeps into your insides and makes you feel wanted, giving you a sense of confidence.
When the critics inevitably appear, put yourself in their judgmental shoes. If someone criticizes you, take an objective approach before taking it to heart. Is what they are saying accurate? Have they considered what they are saying from a number of different angles, including yours? Are they offering a solution or are they trying to make you feel inferior?
Most importantly, remember that you are human. Bad things will happen, you will get hurt, and your self-confidence will probably ebb and flow…
… but the moment you believe you want to change, you are already changing.
Jeanine is an English teacher in Thailand, a copywriter, and a series of contradictions. Shy and bubbly. Quiet and outspoken. Tough outer skin with gooey insides. Loves sunshine and rain. Fiery temper tickled by a sailor’s tongue, but never mad for long. She wants to spend her life embracing her weaknesses — losing shit, irrational over thinking and insecurity. She is at the peak of happiness in water, saying hello to an animal, being creative, reading, watching a scary movie, listening to music and dancing. She wants to be wide awake throughout her life, never losing sight of what is important — enjoying and pursuing pleasure. Traveling, experiencing, living.