For sensitive readers, or those who suffer from deep seeded insecurity, this week’s post may be a difficult read. Please proceed with caution.
I’m a 55-year-old woman that still believes she is bad at math. The truth is, I’m not the greatest at math, but I have survived 55 years in a world that requires math, so I guess I’m doing okay.
However, I’ve carried this insecurity with me all my life. One challenging year of long division in fourth grade set me up for a lifetime of full body sweats at the thought of a mathematics class or calculating a percent in the grocery store!
That is wrong on so many levels.
However, the reality is a lot of us live this way. Privately struggling with something we feel is a personal deficit in our abilities or our character. It’s insecurity, and insecurity is tough.
Whether it’s your own internal thoughts, or beliefs adopted through the words, and actions of others, living with insecurities can be painful, challenging, and debilitating.
So debilitating in fact they can severely limit opportunities in your life that others wouldn’t blink to act on. The question is, who planted your seeds of insecurity, it’s up to you to stop nurturing them.
The Roots of Insecurity
The roots of insecurity can be close to the surface or run very deep.
Surface insecurities are those we’ve likely picked up along our travels in life. They bother you a bit, give us second thoughts, but we can overcome them and move on in some way. Like, worrying about your hair; there’s a piece sticking up, or your grays are showing. You may be focused on it but at some point, you realize you’re the only one thinking about it and are able to let it go.
The deep insecurities do far more damage. They reflect strong doubt or internal fear of not being good enough, or not having enough to offer others. It can make you believe you will never be good enough to reach a certain goal in life, or to be loved or wanted. People with these types of insecurities are hurting internally, and these hurts have been deeply planted.
Where do these types of hurts begin?
From childhood (parents, siblings, peers, traumatic events)
From school (teachers, peers)
From relationships (adolescent romances, peers, significant others, spouses)
From professional life (managers, co-workers, leadership)
From societal pressures (social media, TV, magazines)
My Insecurity Story
Insecurities can develop at any age, but I have found there is usually a “gateway” insecurity that opens the floodgates for others. That gateway insecurity often starts in childhood.
For me, it was math as you know, but also, it was a bit of my upbringing as well.
As the child of a single mother, there were lean times and often not a lot of quality time for nurturing and character development. I feel lucky though because even under those circumstances, my childhood was much better than most and for that I am grateful.
There was, however, a sense of scarcity and urgency from that upbringing that I have always carried with me, and this manifested itself as an insecurity around resource access, food, and personal stability. It was a very tense space to exist in.
I was programmed to seek security, not to dream, so insecurities played a big part in my life. Academic insecurity in math, and insecurity around my home life combined to make me a bit of a mess sometimes when it came to change or risk. It showed up in my life as:
Always looking for safety; staying in a job or a relationship too long
Always grocery shopping; there should never be an empty pantry or fridge
Always second guessing my intelligence and ability; questioning if I was smart or experienced enough to go after a job, keep a job, or measure up to my peers (professionally or personally)
Stay in the safe zone, you don’t want to risk what you have, what if it all goes away? Those were often my thoughts.
These early experiences left little crevices for other insecurities to sneak in around relationships, professional, and societal expectations, but the early insecurities, to this day, remain the root cause.
Does any of this resonate with you? What was your gateway insecurity? How does it impact your life today?
How Hurts Chip Away at Us
Maybe it was a parent that was harsh or closed off, a sibling or peers that teased you unmercifully, or a teacher that called you out in from the whole class for a wrong answer.
A traumatic experience with something or someone that should have been a source of comfort or security.
It could have been the first boyfriend or girlfriend that said you were too fat, too thin, or not handsome/pretty enough, or cheated on you with someone else. Maybe that’s your current significant other or spouse.
How about the first time you messed up big time at a job or just plain got fired.
Perhaps now, you feel pressure to live up to the images we see on social media, TV, and the cover of magazines.
All of these and many like them can chip away at us bit by bit. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have memories of something or someone that could take me right back to a place and time where one of these insecurities was planted. But those are memories, and memories should not always hurt. When they do, the damage has been done.
Over time, insecurities born from these hurts grow and limit our belief in ourselves and tell us lies. They rob us of experiences and opportunities for growth. We are bigger than our insecurities and worthy of all good things that can come from living beyond them.
Coping With and Managing Insecurities
There is no quick fix to relieving ourselves of insecurities. They were planted, they have taken root, and, in some cases, they have borne fruit (passing on insecurities to our children). The most important thing is how we approach, manage, and hopefully resolve our insecurities.
The Deepest Roots
Insecurities we developed through mistreatment from others are the most difficult to overcome. They are ingrained in us as they have wounded our moral fiber. These are the insecurities that shape the way we see ourselves, think about ourselves, and the way we think others see us as well. These are the deepest roots and the hardest to dig up.
If you have made it to adulthood with these types of insecurities, you are likely suffering. In these cases, positive self-talk, affirmations, or a “just do it” attitude are helpful but likely not enough. If this is you, and you know your life has been guided by the insecurities you acquired from traumatic events or mistreatment from others (mental, physical, verbal abuse), seek professional therapeutic help to address them and start the process of taking back your life. Remember:
The person that hurt/hurts you was wounded as well and wanted you to hurt too.
The memory that hunts you is just that, a memory; live in the present.
The limits you live in are a result of fear; cultivate bravery.
The Surface Roots
Some of us have insecurities around things like personal attractiveness, our social standing, imposter syndrome, or public speaking. As mentioned earlier, these are the things that flare up but are usually addressed quickly and don’t do too much damage. They may require some work but when looked at realistically, in the grand scheme of things, are surmountable.
When dealing with surface insecurities, it’s always important to take stock and do a “personal” inventory.
“It doesn’t matter if the world think’s I’m attractive, I think I look wonderful.”
“I have awesome friends and while my circle is small, the bonds are strong.”
“I have earned this position and will do a wonderful job.”
“No one is grading my presentation, I have good information to share, and I won’t be talking all day.”
If the surface roots start to go a little deeper, you must reach out for help before more damage is done. Our internal thoughts are vital in keeping us balanced and positive. Building self-esteem is important, but if your internal self-talk is becoming more and more negative, take notice and think about speaking with someone therapeutically.
Planting a New Garden
Have you thought about what your insecurities are while reading this post? Are they surface level or deep? Do any of them require a closer look?
When you come to terms with knowing what your insecurities are, who planted them, and how they have been impacting your life, the next step is to act. It’s time to plant a new garden.
It could be something like therapy or it could just be making a commitment to yourself to be more mindful of your insecurities, deep inside you know what level they are impacting your life. Stop nurturing the seeds.
Here are a few things you should remember when insecurities come up for you and how to tend your new garden.
Look to yourself for answers first. Internally, we know what needs to be done but we second guess ourselves all the time. Look back at a time where you felt insecure about something that turned out to be a non-issue. If the outcome was positive, make sure you own that and know that nothing is stopping you, but you.
Don’t let the limitations of others limit you. If there’s something you want to do, but there is a person of influence in your life that doesn’t agree, consider moving forward unless the results would be negative, or harmful to others. In short, if someone doesn’t support you just because they don’t want you to “step out” of their mold for you, move forward.
Don’t internalize the negativity of someone else, it will only magnify your own insecurities. Negative people are happy to keep you right there with them, grappling with their own insecurities. Positive people have positive outlooks and lift others up. When we have insecurities, we need to hear more of the good and less of the bad.
Adopt and nurture your own positive narrative. We carry the weight of what others say to us and do to us and can make it our truth. Once you have adopted someone else’s view and narrative of who you are and what you are capable of, the battle is lost. We are all individuals. We were born different and should have no power over the thoughts, actions, emotions, and future of others. If there’s a voice in your head, and it’s not yours, you must change it.
For daily support in easing your insecurities, here are a few more helpful tips:
Daily Affirmations – Come up with a list of affirmations that support you and your uniqueness. Recite them in the morning, in your car, in the mirror, when you are feeling insecure. Hear from you, that you are okay.
Meditation – Calm your mind and relieve the stress that insecurities can bring.
Guided Imagery – Imagine yourself free of insecurities and moving forward with confidence and hope.
Build Positive relationships – Surround yourself with loving beings that support, mentor, and care for you, just as you are.
How Does My Garden Grow?
How am I making out with my insecurities?
I know I have enough and full access to what I might need.
I may still grocery shop too much, but I know that food is abundant.
And finally, I left a corporate position, started a business, and am writing a book. Not bad for an insecure little girl.
I know now that I am capable of many things.
And what about you?
If you are really struggling, it’s always okay to be cautious, take it slow. Self-preservation is vital. However, it’s not okay to give up or give in. It’s very important that individuals see their light, their value, and their right to be happy.
Whether it was someone in your past, of self-imposed doubt, stop nurturing the seeds of insecurity. Insecurities hold us back from being the people we know we were meant to be.
If you need support in addressing your insecurities, let’s talk. Book a complimentary consultation call to explore how you can take back your power and be Better4U and Better4All!
I send you out into the world with the knowledge that you are worthy of all good things in your life, and many blessings for you to receive more.
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Take care and be well,
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach