I had a lovely woman post a question to me on my Ask the Author page and I thought that if anyone else out there is suffering from insecurity that maybe this might help.
QUESTION POSED BY LADY E:
I guess my question is both simple, and difficult: How can I feel more secure in myself?
I am very insecure, both because of my childhood, and because of being repeatedly abandoned by the men I loved. This time, I have chosen a partner who I believe is different in that he is more self aware, and has worked on his personal issues. I am also working on my insecurity. But right now, and we’ve only known each other for three months, we’re being hit by a situation which is hard for him, and his doubts make me feel really insecure, so I’ve gone on red alert in the space of 24h, and just don’t know what to do with myself.
How do I calm myself down so that my insecurity doesn’t weigh too much on this already fragile relationship?
Any advice would be appreciated.
Lady E…I’m really sorry you are having such a tough time. Insecurity is one of the most life-crushing challenges anyone can face. When we don’t feel good enough or feel like we don’t deserve happiness, we self-sabotage. It’s a horrible cycle to be in and it’s one I think we’ve all felt.
I’m going to tell you how I got over being insecure. It took me until my late 30s before I lost most of my insecurity and it was a hard-won battle. I also had a tough childhood. My father was killed when I was 10 and that started my abandonment issues at a very young age. Combine that with having boyfriends that weren’t always faithful. Ugh, it was a recipe for disaster. Plus, and I hope this doesn’t come off horribly, but I was also incredibly insecure because most people always judged me on my looks rather than my personality. So I felt that if I wasn’t 100% perfect looking every day that I had no value. It was pretty much a nightmare of insecurity and I never felt good enough; I never felt like I was going to able to just relax in a relationship and be happy. It sucked.
In my mid-thirties, after having gone through a really bad hormone issue which temporarily put more pounds on me that I’m used to, some guys at the office were really unkind to me. Well, let’s just say it like it was: they were evil pricks and I wanted to run them over with my car.
Once my doctors fixed my hormone issues and I was back down to my normal weight, one of those total jerks (not even realizing I was the same person) asked me out on a date. I was ready to spit nails (as my mom would say) I was so annoyed. When this asshat came to my desk and asked me out, the very first thing that popped into my mind was, “Fuck off.” (Pardon my French.) But in my mind I didn’t say those words in anger. I said them dismissively, like shooing a fly away from my head. And it was that EXACT moment, when I lost my insecurity.
I realized that it doesn’t matter what other people think of me. What matters is how I feel about myself. External validation is nice. It’s great when others like us. But internal validation is where true happiness begins. If you KNOW you are a good person who tries to be kind whenever possible, then it’s less important what others think. Not that you should stop caring altogether what other people think, but you learn that what others think shouldn’t make or break you. I had that moment of clarity because when I was having a weird body issue, these guys were horrible to me. As soon as I was normal sized again, they couldn’t get enough of me. That just showed me the shallowness and surface-level bullshit that so many people live their lives by.
Something else that really helped me is to remember that bad people just do bad things. Every time a guy cheated on me, it didn’t mean that I wasn’t good enough for him or didn’t give him the kind of sex he wanted. He did it because he was an asshole. It was HIS DEFECT, not mine, that made him do shitty stuff. If you stop internalizing those kinds of things as your fault and assign the blame to the person who deserves it, the person who wronged you, then you start to see that all the bad things that have happened to you aren’t because YOU are bad. It’s because maybe you didn’t pick the right guy. Or the guy that seemed so dreamy was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Or that sometimes, bad shit just happens.
The key for me was really understanding who I am. Am I a nice person? Am I a smart person? Do I bring joy to others? Do I try and help those around me? Once I understood that all of those things were true, then I was able to stop letting other’s views of me control my sense of self because I KNEW I was a good person. And if others didn’t view me as such, then they could bugger off. Who needs them anyway?
Here’s an exercise you can try. It may feels stupid, but that’s okay. It’ll help you in the long run. Write down all the things that are good about you. Even down to things like, “I like my hair.” Don’t be shy about writing down all your good features. Don’t feel like you are bragging. Just jot them down. Put in black and white all the reasons you have for NOT feeling insecure.
Then, it may help to write down all the despicable personality traits of those who have hurt you over the years. Once you see the list of their nastiness you’ll start to see how THEY were the problem. Their hurtful, unkind personalities weren’t your fault–it’s just who they are. Once you see that they are the ones who are jerks, then you can say, “Man, they were assholes. Why should I care what an asshole thinks of me?” My mom has always taught me to “consider the source.” If the person giving me a hard time is a jerk, why on earth would I waste my heart and mind caring about what they think? Those 3 words from my mom helped change my life. I hope in some way, they can help yours too.
Whew, that was a freaking tome! Sorry it was such a long reply, but I wanted you to know that we’ve all been where you are in terms of feeling insecure and that each person who’s overcome insecurity probably tried for years and years only to have that, “Come to God” moment where clarity kicked in and their whole view of the world changed. I hope you have that moment in the near future too.
Much luck and love!