Written by Charneise Alston, M.Ed
I dare to say that insecurities are never truly eradicated from our lives. Insecurities can lie dormant and become revived when people or situations trigger them to resurface. In addition, new insecurities can be created in areas of our lives that did not previously exist which makes combating this problem an ongoing struggle. I define insecurity as a compound negative feeling consisting of both doubt and a poor self-concept. While I do believe that one can overcome insecurities, no one is exempt from the collision with daily triggers. For this reason, we must be intentional in not feeding our insecurities, which allows them to grow and echo in both our hearts and minds. Instead, we must starve our insecurities by walking in the truth of our abilities, gifts, talents and purpose.
Caring about what other people think is the main driver that stimulates insecurities. Living for the validation of others will lead you down a slippery slope to inadequacy. The fact of the matter is that you will never fully please everyone, even with your best efforts. Therefore, you must learn how to suppress the urge to care. I’m not suggesting for you to be disconnected about how your actions affect others. Not at all, as an interdependent society, we have a responsibility to be very conscious in how we treat others. However, I am saying that there comes a point in one’s life when you have to live your life without seeking permission from other people.
Is your personal style based on your preference or someone else’s? When others talk about their high paying jobs and salaries, do you feel less significant? Do you wish that you looked like someone else? Are you fearful of public speaking? Do you walk into a room in hopes that no one notices you? When putting your hand to something new, do you feel defeated before you even begin? Do you allow others to talk down to you and make you feel inferior? Honestly, no one can make you feel insecure. It is your responsibility to discover and peel back the many intricate layers that envelop your sacred soul.
During my pre-teen years, I was extremely insecure about my appearance. Unlike many of my friends, I was left in that awkward stage longer than most. As I watched my peers transition into puberty, I was stuck in the limbo of lost hope. I was so anxious to reach my developmental milestones and fit in with everyone else. Well, I learned early on that I was not created to blend in with the crowd.
I describe that period of my life as being in an abusive relationship with myself. I was never enough for my own contentment. The opinions from others constantly reminded me of how different I looked. Consequently, I became overly critical of myself and started seeing myself in the blurred lens of others. Those hurtful words said by others struck me at my core and began stunting my emotional health. I foolishly allowed the voices of others to wash out the delicate beliefs and attitudes that I started developing about myself during those formative years.
All of my parents’ compliments, love and support could not counteract the negative self-talk that echoed in my mind. For years, I felt unworthy because I looked for external validation. Then came the glorious day when I was introduced to positive affirmations. In order to replace a negative belief about yourself, a positive alternative must be readily available for occupancy. At this time, I was entering high school when I began rehearsing positive affirmations. Those affirmations reshaped my thinking and helped me to develop a positive self-concept. Even now, I still speak positive affirmations over my life because I am aware of the creative power words carry. Here are ten positive affirmations that I pulled from off of the internet for you to speak aloud:
•The words “I can’t” are not in my vocabulary. I refuse to believe my own excuses. I am unstoppable!
•I am calm in the face of conflict. I brush annoyances off quickly & easily. I agree to disagree. I am bigger than that!
•I choose to radiate love, joy and gratitude today. I know that life is too short to dwell on negativity. I walk in the light!
•I release my need to impress others. I know that I have nothing to prove. I choose to accept myself just the way that I am!
•I am free to create my OWN reality. I have choices in all situations. Nothing stands between me and my highest good.
•I release my attachment to everything that no longer serves me. I refuse to let anything or anyone hold me back!
•I release my need to compare myself to others. I judge myself by my own standards of success. I am ENOUGH just as I am.
•I choose to take responsibility for my own happiness. I will not let anyone “make” me angry today. I am in control!
•I am full of loving, healthy, positive and prosperous thoughts which eventually convert into my life experiences.
•I am never alone in my pursuit of success. The universe supports me in expected and unexpected ways.
By the time I graduated from high school, at the age of seventeen, I had a concrete healthy self-esteem. I dropped the burden of caring about what others thought and began to cultivate self-love. Insecurities stem from a lack of self-confidence. I had to shift my attention onto all that was good about myself; I chose to focus on my strengths. By the time I completely overcame my insecurity, people began viewing me according to my definition.
Social comparison is not only a thief of joy, it also averts you from feeling secure. Unfortunately in today’s society, we compare our real lives to other people’s “posted” lives. As people continually post snapshots of their best experiences on Instagram, many times we are guilty of contrasting those filtered posts with our bruised reality. It is almost inevitable to fall victim to social comparison if one does not make conscious efforts to guard against the temptation that inundates us via pictures, tweets and social media statuses. Do not let social comparisons feed your insecurities.
When you focus on how others are living their lives, you tend to want to covet their life experiences without knowing their personal sacrifices. We often feel like we don’t measure up whenever we compare ourselves to others. Think about the excessive amount of time, effort and money wasted in attempts to chase perfection. Culturally we subscribe to the thought of “keeping up with the Joneses.” Who exactly are the “Joneses?” I urge you to stay in your own lane and do your creative best with your own life.
Conversely, do not allow others to project their insecurities onto you. Don’t live small to satisfy someone else’s comfort. Your greatness will be an issue for some people to handle. As you become more confident in your abilities, others will shrink back and become envious of your authenticity. Everyone cannot handle your light, but that is not your problem. By all means, glow-up.
Do not allow anyone to lash out their frustrations with judgmental comments, you are not a punching bag. “Oh, you think that you are better than us because you graduated from college?” “You’re happy in your marriage now, but give it some time.” “What makes you think that you can apply for a promotion?” When someone is battling with their own insecurities, seeing you live your best life may prompt jealousy and resentment. I often felt uncomfortable whenever people transferred their insecure-based frustrations onto me with snarky, loaded remarks. Now, I know not to take it personally because it has nothing to do with me at all.
In closing, insecurities will minimize your potential and steal your purpose. Your worth increases once you choose to focus on your strengths. You are equipped with custom-made gifts and talents. You are rare in your ability to impact the world. No one is created like you, that’s special. There is no need to ever feel threatened by anyone else’s talent. There will be days when insecurities emerge, that is part of the human experience. Be that as it may, know that you possess the power to overcome those insecurities as you strive to become your best self.
“An exciting and inspiring future awaits you beyond the noise in your mind, beyond the guilt, doubt, fear, shame, insecurity and heaviness of the past you carry around. “ Debbie Ford