Ever feel nervous before giving a speech? Proposing to the person you love? When starting your driving test? These are just a few examples of when it is perfectly normal to feel insecure and worried about whether you will succeed at attaining your goal. These moments are almost always fleeting and are not harmful, especially when a repeated pattern of success allows the individual to realize their value and strengths as a person, thus helping to lessen the degree of insecurity they will feel in a similar situation next time. Even the greatest leaders feel insecure on occasion. No human being is in possession of such self-confidence that they can be 100% certain of the right thing to say or do at all times. However, while it is entirely normal to feel insecure at one time or another, if the problem becomes pronounced enough to affect both your enjoyment and ability to function in life, then it is an issue that needs to be addressed. Follow these suggestions for ways you can improve on any insecurities you may be feeling.
1. Self reflection can help.
Take stock of your life. Write down examples of situations or people who make you feel insecure and provide examples of why this is so. Examine your list. If you wrote down things like, “I never feel confident around girls” or “I feel sick to my stomach before an exam,” then go easy on yourself. These are perfectly normal reactions to the situations in question.
No matter how lovely and confident that girl may seem, she has her own challenges and insecurities, and very few people view exams as pleasurable experiences. Sometimes looking back on past situations of this sort can allow for the sort of perspective not available to you at the time.
2. Avoid the causes of insecurity.
Look at that list again. When thinking about your life, were you able to recognize specific things that make you feel insecure? One thing guaranteed to produce unhappiness is comparing ourselves to others. The people we seek to emulate will almost certainly be “better” than us in some way, such as looks, employment, finances, so it is invariably a game we cannot win.
Why fuel the sense that we do not measure up? Similarly, if certain situations produce a sense of insecurity in us and are not essential in our day-to-day responsibilities, try to avoid them.
3. Seek the advice and validation of friends and family.
If you are unable to combat insecurity on your own, express your concerns to close friends and family. An outside perspective can be very helpful and these individuals will help remind you of the times where you successfully overcame a difficult situation using your inner reserves of courage and intelligence.
Many of us are quick to discount our successes even when we should be reveling in them. Sometimes being reminded of our value can be a significant aid during times where our self-confidence is lacking. If you find this to be effective, try and spend time with these people and others whom you find to be warm and supportive. It is difficult to feel you are lacking when the environment is friendly, inviting and inclusive.
4. Care about yourself.
We live in a society where there is a large emphasis on appearance. If you feel insecure about how you look, please remember that there are very few human beings on this planet who approach what is considered to be perfect.
Models and movie stars are almost always digitally retouched in photographs and spend a huge amount of time and money in their pursuit of ‘perfection.’ That may be their job, but it is not yours. Be confident in the qualities you have and remember to take care of yourself. Feeling good about who you are automatically gives you with a sense of confidence that people can easily see. That will affect how they relate to you and how you see your own sense of value.
5. Try mental health counselling and cognitive behavioral therapy.
If the problem progresses to the point where you feel that insecurity is seriously compromising your ability to function, it is time to consult a mental health professional. Therapists have various proven means at their disposal to help people battle insecurity, including one to one talk therapy.
Another very effective process is known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This method is an extension of the journaling method we touch upon in the Self-Reflection section. Participants in CBT write down the details of a troubling event on CBT worksheets that ask for particulars like, “Where Did This Happen?” and “What Emotions Were You Experiencing?” By providing answers to these and other questions, the process allows one to identify negative thoughts, which more often than not are the product of one-sided thinking.
Gaining the tools to challenge that thinking helps the participant realize that the way they saw a particular event is likely not true, and because of this, their reaction to it is not valid. The goal of CBT is to eventually make this evaluation process happen automatically in the person’s head, thus allowing them to get rid of negative thoughts as they are occurring and not allow them to cloud their thinking. CBT groups are available in many areas; if you are not able to sign up for one, contact a therapist. They will be able to provide more information on this technique and how you can use it successfully in your own life.
Insecurity is something that virtually every human deals with at some point in his or her life. It is a natural reaction to question what you are doing and why you are doing it. However, if you find you have reached a point in life where you feel gripped by an ever-present feeling that you are not good enough and are not able to recognize your worth as a person and your ability to contribute, then you need to take action. No one likes feeling insecure, especially when that sentiment seems to be with them at all times. Fortunately, there are a number of effective tools available to make you feel better about yourself and your place in the world. If you are not able to attain that objective on your own, remember that there are friends, family and professionally trained therapists who can help. Follow these steps and you will be on your way to becoming secure in who you are!