Remember that time you were so stressed out, you couldn’t focus on your exam? Or when life threw an opportunity down your path but you refused it because something held you back? If you recall those moments, then you are one of the millions of people on this planet who might be feeling insecure about something at this very moment.
Insecurity is masked fear
First and foremost, feeling insecure is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, everyone has felt or will feel insecure at some point in their life. That is the reason why insecurity is neither an “illness” nor a “handicap.” It is simply a least controllable reaction that occurs in certain situations. Keep in mind that bravery doesn’t mean overcoming fear completely, but learning how to act in spite of your fears.
Second, think of insecurity not as the problem, but as a result of something “deeper” – fear.
When we’re feeling insecure on a date, what we’re actually afraid of is rejection. When we’re feeling insecure in front of an audience, what we’re actually worried about is humiliation. Yes, fear is the root of our insecurities and if we want to stop feeling insecure, we need to take care of that first.
So, where do we go from here?
Tip #1: Know your fears
Based on the premise that we can’t go against something we don’t know anything about, the first step is to get familiar with the fears that fuel your insecurity. Instead of running away, hiding and “locking your doors,” why not invite your fears in for a cup of coffee?
Make a list of all the things that you’re afraid of; situations, people and pretty much anything that makes you feel insecure. Be as detailed as possible. Write down anything and everything that might be useful in sketching a detailed image of your fears. In short, write a story about every insecurity you have.
The purpose is to get as familiarized with your insecurities as possible; to step out of the shadows and come face to face with your fears.
Tip #2: Be in the “here and now.”
In most cases, people are feeling insecure about something that hasn’t happened yet. In fact, the outcome that makes us feel anxious might not even occur. Chances are, that worst-case scenario is merely the product of our anxious mind. In short, eliminate anxiety (fear) and you will no longer have a reason to feel insecure.
Since fear and insecurity are mostly about “what might happen,” one highly effective trick is to remain anchored in what happens at the moment. It’s called being mindful and people from all over the world are using this strategy to overcome their painful past and stop worrying about the future. Here’s how you do it:
- Sit in a comfortable position.
- Choose an object to focus your attention on. You can even hold it in your hand.
- Examine the object carefully. Pay attention to its shape, size, color, texture. The more details, the better.
- Pay attention to your inner self. Observe your thoughts and emotions in a non-judgmental way.
- Take a moment of silence and breathe slowly.
Practice this simple exercise whenever you’re feeling insecure and you will notice that your mind is too anchored in the “here and now” to be concerned with catastrophic scenarios.
Give it a try!
Tip #3: Confront your “demons.”
Now that you’re relatively familiar and comfortable with your insecurities, it’s time for a “leap of faith.” In other words, the two previous tips were designed to prepare you for this one final push.
Put yourself in that uncomfortable situation and hold your ground until insecurity begins to slowly fade away, leaving room for that much-needed sense of tranquility. Experts call it exposure therapy and it is hands down the most effective strategy against fear and insecurity.
For some of us, this approach may sound a bit too much. However, before you jump to conclusions, know this - anxiety can’t “grow” indefinitely. At some point, your mind will simply get used to it. If you feel like you’re not quite ready for a “face to face encounter” with your insecurities, try practicing in your imagination. Close your eyes and imagine a situation that would trigger your insecurities. Remain in that feeling of insecurity until your mind begins accepting it as something relatively normal.
As a bonus, you can always use positive affirmations to overcome shyness, fear or whatever makes you feel insecure.
Each and every one of us has the power to stop feeling insecure if we just find the courage to take control of our fears and act in spite of their “paralyzing” effects.