If you’re like me and have questioned your existence since time immemorial, then you understand how it feels to be plagued by insecurity your whole life.
I am insecure about a lot of things. The first half is skin deep like my dimples are a curse that it’s the only thing people find to compliment about me when they see me for the first time. Or that when I laugh, I shouldn’t forget to cover my mouth because I look like a gorilla with my upper gums accounting for half of my smile.
Then there’s the other half, my insecurities that are deeply ingrained with who I am as a person. I feel so small whenever I try to do something new that I feel I’m wired to be the worst at everything and learn things much slower than other people. I feel conscious about my built-in awkwardness and the way I speak. I feel unwanted because of my lack of sense of humour and the ability to think on my feet. I feel so dragged down by my crippling anxiety that is presenting itself as a part of who I have been all along rather than a sum of my past traumas.
Then, I look at my sister and see how she’s admired for her external beauty and kindness. I look at my friend who makes the whole room laugh. I look at my dad who tries anything for the first time with confidence. I look at that hot chick who gets every boy she likes. Then I see the mirror peeking at me with pity and judgment, feeling smaller than the already small space I previously occupied.
Before the first quarter of this year ended, I’ve decided that I don’t want to keep on living like this. I realized that if I continue to persecute myself for being myself; I won’t ever be truly happy. This was when I came across the concept of looking at your insecurities as a strength, as your sword and shield to protect you as you make your way to greatness, or as a tool to simply live a better quality of life. Here are some things I’m learning:
1. Know what you’re dealing with.
Don’t look at your insecurities as an enemy but as a close friend who you want to get to know more. Literally, write down every insecurity as soon as it pops in your head. You don’t want to miss out on anything and you’d want to be able to look back at your list anytime you’re ready to assess.
Tip: Mount a corkboard in the wall where your standing desk is located. So write the insecurity in a post-it and pin it in your corkboard until it’s filled and you’re ready to address each one.
2. Say it out Loud.
Say your insecurity out loud. No one can use it against you if they hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. For instance, you say that you love your incredible bigfoot and the places they take you. No one can use it to hurt you anymore because they know it’s something you love about yourself.
3. Laugh it Out.
This is not to say that you should make a laughing matter out of your insecurities and the pain that they inflict on you. It’s an alternative reframing of the mind to not perceive insecurities as a big problem that you have to constantly solve but rather to associate each with small, funny things that they won’t have much impact on you. It’s to look at insecurities in a lighthearted manner so that they’ll feel a little less heavy.
4. Use Positive Language.
Words are powerful in framing the way you think. If you use adjectives with positive connotations for every negative trait you can think of, then you would gradually be able to embrace and love your insecurities rather than empower them to drag you down. For example, instead of telling yourself that you are “awkward and weird,” say you are “interesting and unique.” Instead of telling yourself that you are “skinny,” say that you are “in your best shape.”
Tip: If this is something you struggle with, surround yourself with positive words or affirmations---whether it be in your workstation or on your bedside table.
5. Challenge your thoughts.
Use your insecurities as a challenge to help you become better. If you’re uncoordinated and stiff, challenge yourself to learn dance choreography. If you’re tone-deaf, pick up a musical instrument to learn and prove yourself wrong. If you’re not a very visual person but you love to draw, train your mind and your hands.
Always look at insecurities as challenges that have been put up by your mind and by society to toughen you up and make you even better than who you are now.
6. Love your authentic self.
Stop being insecure about being insecure. Accept that you are an emotional and vulnerable person. It’s when you’ll realize that in order to be brave, you need to be tested through vulnerability. Bravery comes out once someone is ready to plunge into uncertainty, to be open about being authentic.
Even if you don’t see it right now, there’s always a value for the special person that you are. We can’t all be confident and assertive or adventurous and outgoing. We won’t get to distinguish or appreciate the desired end if there’s no middle ground and an opposite view. The world isn’t black and white and that’s what makes life interesting.