Insecurity comes in many forms. It can be small, causing a feeling of discomfort or uneasiness, or so big and pervasive it keeps us from healthy relationships, opportunities or adventures. When insecurity is at its worst, it can rob us of success, confidence and joy.
Stephen R. Covey said, "The way we see the problem is the problem." The truth is, most of the things we feel insecure about aren't the problem; our insecurity comes from how we see those things. When we start to change the way we see things, then we can begin to battle insecurity. And it starts with these six simple steps.
1. Understand that everyone feels insecure
Insecurity can make us feel isolated like we are the only ones that doubt ourselves. But that's not true. All of us have felt insecure at some point in our lives. Your boss, spouse, best friend, and worst enemy have all likely struggled with insecurity at some point in their lives. The next time you walk into a room and everyone seems so confident and you don't, remember that they have felt the same way. You're not alone.
2. Don't compare yourself to others
It's human nature to figure out where we fit into the world around us. This is often done by comparing ourselves to others. Most times, however, we compare our perceived worse with their perceived best. We come away feeling pretty bad about ourselves.
Your worth, ability and value is not decided by the performance or personality of another. You are unique. So don't look to others to gauge your progress or standing in life. Celebrate your strengths and successes. Acknowledge your mistakes and weaknesses with forgiving eyes. Be confident in your individuality and be optimistic in your quest for growth. And most importantly, be happy to be you.
3. Make a list of the positive attributes.
A great way to feel better and more confident about yourself is to make a list of your positive attributes. Don't be shy. Write down all the gifts you've been given, the talents you have, and the things you like or even love about yourself. It may feel awkward at first. For some reason, celebrating ourselves seems unnatural and vain. But, it's not. It is showing gratitude for the things you've been given and confidence in the things you've worked at. Making such a list is a great way to help change your perspective as you realize just how awesome you really are.
I love the advice of Dr. Benjamin Spock: "Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do." You've been given common sense and the ability to reason. Through your life experiences you have built up a reservoir of knowledge, skills and understanding. Don't sell yourself short. The next time insecurity tries to stop you from doing something good, pause a moment and make the choice to trust yourself. You really do know more than you think you do and are capable of more than you give yourself credit.
5. Take back the power
Insecurity hit me hard during my teenage years. I allowed the cruel words of others to define who I was. I gave them the power to tell me my value and my capability. If I was asked on a date, I felt beautiful. If a friend rejected me, I felt worthless. I sold my worth for the criticism and compliments of others. As I grew older and wiser, I began to realize what I had done, and with a lot of work and prayer, I began to take back the power.
In this life, you will have people say or do things to you that are unkind and perhaps controlling. Don't let them tell you what you are capable of or what you are worth. Your potential is yours to fulfill, your life is yours to lead. You decide your worth. Choose to see and believe the best in you. Let the opinions of others fall by the wayside. Take back the power you've given to others and own yourself.
6. Do something.
We can change our perspective, look at our positive attributes, and other introspective things, but there is a certain level of insecurity-squashing confidence that comes only from experience. When my daughter was little, I knew she was a good swimmer and told her as much. Still, she nervously doubted herself. Then one day after mastering a difficult stroke, she popped her head out of the water and gleefully stated, "Mom, I did it! I ama good swimmer!" My belief in her was enough to get her in the water, but her true confidence didn't come until after she swam.
As we battle our insecurities and begin to believe in ourselves, we must do what our insecurity has prevented us from doing before. We will prove to ourselves that we are right, that we can do more than we realize. We will find talents and skills we didn't know we had and experience life on a new level.
But our true joy will come when we do things for others. Ignore the fear of looking stupid or failing, and reach out to someone in need. Selflessness feeds self-security. We will find greater value in ourselves and deeper meaning in life. We will begin to understand that even with all our imperfections we can be a tool for good in the lives of those within our reach.
There is no instant cure for insecurity, but as you practice these six steps you can give it a run for its money. Choose to see the good. Believe in you. Be confident. Do something. Have joy.