Dealing with Insecurities
noun, plural insecurities.
lack of confidence or assurance; self-doubt:
He is plagued by insecurity.
the quality or state of being insecure; instability:
the insecurity of her financial position.
Insecurities. Whether we stunt, front, put up a wall, use sarcasm to hide it or openly bear them, insecurities are something we all have.
The difference between whether they make or break us is firstly our ability to acknowledge them and secondly the courage to manage them.
The other day I was asking myself, why do I often try to hide my insecurities? I came to the conclusion, a lot of it was down to not wanting to be judged by others or as a businesswoman, I often want to appear like I know what I’m doing and have my stuff together.
However I realised that insecurities and vulnerabilities are often what provide the space to allow us to reflect and become better people. They also allow us to connect with others in a way that is deep and meaningful.
On the flip side, I’m also realising that if we ignore our insecurities and aren’t aware of those blind spots, they actually end up controlling us and harming our relationships with others.
WHAT CAUSES INSECURITIES?
I am not a psychologist (by ANY stretch!) and I realise that there are different types of insecurities and many reasons why we have them, but some of the triggers I have come across:
For good or for bad, our childhoods shape our perspective of ourselves, others and our outlook on the world. Whether it was something a parent unknowingly said, or another child at school or even a stranger’s response to you - these things can all stick with us and be a reason for us to doubt ourselves, our abilities or our future.
For me, I have not the smallest feet in the world…! I remember when I was in primary school, my feet had grown so quickly that by age 10, I was pretty much wearing adult shoes and a kid at school in front of everyone made a remark about how I had elephant feet and this really stuck with me.
This then set off a few years where by hook or crook I was squashing my feet into any type of shoe just for my feet to go unnoticed and it also meant that whenever I met others, almost instantly I would turn to see whether they were part of my foot club.
Now not only did I begin to notice that was a bit weird (lol!), but I soon came to the conclusion that these feet were sticking with me for life so it was important to get used to them (& bunions are never a good idea!). But, it was important for me to recognise the genesis of that and learn to manage it.
The rise of technology and social media has allowed us on a second by second basis to not only be inspired by others but inadvertently to compare ourselves to other people. While if we lived on an island of one, we would probably always be thankful with who we are and what we have, constantly comparing ourselves whether it be in our job, business prospects, relationship status or looks, can lead us to lack confidence.
Partly as a result of starting MAGNIFY and #TheAfolabis, I’m on Instagram a significant amount. I’ve really had to keep in check (& sometimes I’ve slipped up) the desire to frequently compare everyone’s life to my own. Particularly when I’ve been in waiting seasons or gone through challenges - whether it be financial, relational, career wise, it’s at these difficult moments that the green monster of comparison often strikes up the hardest.
Social media is a place to show highlights so it’s important that if we are finding our insecurities hard to manage or feel like they are consuming us, we don’t then go roamingwithout restraint a platform which will only amplify feelings of feelings of negativity.
Experiencing disappointment and rejection
At some stage or another, all of us have experienced things not going as we had hoped. Whether it be a relationship not working out (instigated by the other), or not getting the job or promotion as quickly as we had hoped or losing a loved one. The mind is a powerful thing but when we hold onto how we felt during these times, it can leave us in a state where we lack confidence or belief.
Last year I wrote a post which I shared quite openly my relationship history before Ayo. We started dating when I was 26 and I’d never had a boyfriend before then or been in a relationship. Growing up to guys I was always the ‘fun’ one, but when you’re a young woman, around guys you don’t want to be the mate…! You want to be the one they find attractive not the one they sing ‘just a friend to’. Because of years of always being disappointed with guys and relationships failing before they’d even got going, the feeling that I would never find anyone or that there was something wrong about me, started to creep in. I really had to check my attitude over this issue otherwise it was starting to shape my whole outlook and interaction with the opposite sex.
WHY SHOULD WE AND HOW CAN WE MANAGE OUR INSECURITIES?
I’m still definitely on a journey and it’s not an overnight process but these are the things I’m learning about managing our insecurities.
Know you were created for a purpose
I think this is the first thing. When not managed, insecurities feed a mentality that strips our value and makes us lose focus. When we realise that our lives have significance and that we have the unique privilege to live lives that can be a blessing to the sphere of influence we inhabit, it helps us take our eyes off our ourselves.
When insecurities are then acknowledged within this context, it’s a lot more positive and encouraging framework. While none of us are perfect, I truly believe that all of us were created uniquely and for a purpose. Personally, having that revelation has really helped moderate my attitudes towards those vulnerabilities and insecurities I have.
Acknowledge the insecurity and recognise its root
Someone once said to me, when you name a problem, you give it less power. What’s unknown or undefined can seem scary and perplexing in equal measure.
From my experience, the first thing I’ve learnt is that naming the insecurity is crucial. When we’re able to pinpoint the root of an insecurity - whether it be certain experiences, or circumstances and sadly even people, it helps us to develop tools to manage it.
Begin to renew your mind
The mind is so powerful and our thoughts shape our actions. Rather than feed our minds with negativity preoccupied by what we don’t have or who we’re not, it’s important that we focus on good things. Now this isn’t a self-centered fruitless exercise, for how can we impact the world around us and be an influence for good if we’re so focused feeding negativity to ourselves? How can we learn to celebrate others and believe the best in them if we don’t even have the grace to do that to ourselves?
When we do this, it gives us the opportunity to shine in the areas we have been blessed and feel confident in and also helps us to live life grateful. For me, when you see and hear of people without limbs, rather than becoming so upset about my long feet, I stop and be grateful I even have feet!
Surround yourself with the right people
You become like the people you surround yourself with - every great leader I’ve ever met has always told me this and more and more I see this in my own life.
Ayo has been amazing for me in that he regularly checks me and keeps me accountable. At times when I have been tempted to make a snide comment or just suddenly change in my mood and disposition, he will (gently!) question why I am responding to someone or a situation like this. In those times, it dawned on me that it was because of an insecurity that I hadn’t dealt with.
Equally, I’m grateful for parents and a close circle of friends who encourage me and also challenge me to be the best version of myself in private and in public. We all need those people - they give us a reality check but the love and support necessary to manage insecurities in equal measure.
So, my final encouragement? Know you’re not alone. Know that insecurities are part of life, we all have them, but rather than becoming consumed with them, be grateful for what you do have and focus on the big picture.