Insecurity is driving me crazy!
Let me take a moment to set the context. Before we start fixing it, I would like you to know the meaning and causes of insecurity. We will talk about - How does self doubt and emotional baggage take over? And 4 really effective ways of dealing with insecurity.
"You are better than you think.”
I remember my very first public speaking course. I think I was 14 or 15. I had spoken in front of my class many times but never addressed a room full of strangers. My Dale Carnegie kind of a trainer looked at us, a bunch of sheepish people who were trying to avoid any possible eye contact with anyone. He understood our fear and insecurity. He said I know you all are scared. It’s your first day after all. But let me tell you a secret. You may think that you are talking to this large audience and they will laugh at you if you make a mistake. But let me assure you! No one is listening. Those who will speak after you are worried about what they will be speaking and those who have completed their speech will be thinking about how poorly they did. So technically no one is listening other than me and I promise that I wont judge you, no matter what you do on the stage.
We are not very far from this example. We keep meeting people troubled by their own insecurities. People trapped in their own bubbles. I personally speak with 70 to 100 people in a month. At least, 70% of those people are fighting their battle with insecurity around different things: Money, relationships, career, future and health.
A German psychologist and author, Erich Fromm wrote, "The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity."
So the point is let’s not resist insecurity or try to get rid of it right away. What if we change the goal here!? What if we find efficient ways to live with our insecurity without letting it infect us. Sounds like Coronavirus. Yes it is. I don’t know about corona but I have seen insecurities getting bored and diminished in their power, when they do not have any active control over us.
What happens when we feel insecure? About that meeting. That one phone call. That one conversation that you were dreading to have with your girlfriend. In the moments of insecurity - we let our emotions take over. When that happens our pre-established logic, strategy, reputation everything goes for a toss.
We build stories that are coloured in panic and insecurity. These stories are not real. But they feel real to us. 'Oh my god! I am not good enough! I knew I shouldn't have tried. I am going to let my father down. Damn! Who asked you to pretend and be a superhero! You know you don’t belong here! I think I pissed him off. What if I lose him forever. I love her. I can't lose her. What will I do without her! ' Insecurity sounds like this in our head.
Many of you asked me on Instagram, why do we experience these insecure emotions in our career, relationship or even in life in general. These are the two main two causes:
1. Low Self worth
Traditionally, we equate self worth with some external factors like our physical appearance, achievements, influence, & possessions. However, the sense of self worth is built by external and more importantly internal factors like your opinion of your own self, your ability to bounce back when you fail and how valued you feel around your significant people: Your parents, friends, teachers, lovers, spouses, kids, team members.
People with low self worth can fall into an unending loop of self doubt. They keep trying to live upto other people’s ideas of their life. Unknowingly, they start projecting these doubtful emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, on everyone and everything around them. Creating stories that are filled with irrational thoughts and worries.
One of the ways in which graphology i.e the study of handwriting analysis depicts low self worth is by observing the letter ‘I’. Not any I but what we graphologists call ‘personal pronounced I’. The capital I when you write I am, I was - referring to yourself. If you write that self referral ‘I’, in smaller case, instead of capital, then it shows a low self worth.
2. Emotional Baggage from the past
I often say this, personality is a sum total of where all we have been. Have you ever seen a travel bag with loads of stickers on it? I feel amused to see those travellers who put stickers of every destination they have visited on their travel bags.
We all behave like those travel bags. We carry emotional stickers of all our past travels in our present & future experiences.
We keep colouring our future in the shades of our past.
So here are my 4 tools to deal with insecurity. If you're new to this blog, then let me fill you in. Every Friday we create a funsheet with the episode. A worksheet that you can download from my website aditisurana.com/podcast. Print this Friday funsheet if you can, or use it as a reference while listening to these practical & applicable tools. Make notes, write personal experiences, scribble, doodle. You will be surprised to see how this small additional step of using a funsheet will help you internalize all these lessons a lot more.
Tool 1: Observe the stories that you tell yourself
Every insecure thought pattern has its own story. You mostly go down the same rabbit hole again and again. Note that story. I would recommend that you pick a notebook and journal. Answer this question: ‘what do I tell myself when I feel insecure?’ Write everything that comes to your mind without editing it. Just go for it. Write like no one is reading.
Tool 2: Investigate
The Dalai Lama said, ‘A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.’ Insecurity is like a headless chicken. It ought to behave irrationally.
People who learnt to live with insecurities without letting it overpower them, have learnt how to rewrite these panic stories while they are happening. They say - Wait a minute. What is actually going on here? I know, I wanted to win over this situation. It’s not happening. What do I require to do now? What information am I missing here?
Take a moment to describe 2 memories where you chose to investigate instead of feeling scared.
Tool 3: False identification
Some of you might reject this point completely. But wait. hear me out. You are your body, mind, success, failure, work, relationship, marriage and yet you are not any one of it. E.g. You are responsible for your car but you are not your car. Similarly, You are responsible for your work but you are not your work. The root of insecurity is that we start taking everything personally.
Praise, appreciation, rewards for your work or body becomes remarks about you. Same goes for criticism, ridicule or failures. We start false identifying with it. Imagine, tomorrow, I mean after the lockdown, you decide to act in a children’s play and wear a lion’s costume. You enjoy walking around, scaring some toddlers. But it would be a tragedy if you start believing that you are a lion. Or that you can't live without your costume. or what if no one values you without this costume what will you do? It may seem funny, but that’s exactly how we behave when it comes to our false identification.
Take a moment to write down 5 incidences where you were attached to your false identification and felt insecure.
Tool number 4: Say thank you when you receive a gift
Your insecurity may sound and behave like a hysterical mother trying to protect her child, but this mother is going ballistic & crazy because she cares deeply. Your critical, doubtful, demeaning insecurity story is also trying to do the same. And if you observe closely, you will realise it’s a gift. A tough one to appreciate but still a gift.
Next time when you get caught up in your own thoughts, don’t try to escape and resist it. This makes the matter worse. For a change, talk to your inner voice.
Say - Thank you for trying to protect me. I hear you. I am not dismissing you. I have thought about the consequences but I need to jump in anyways.’
Write 3 current areas where your insecurity is driving you crazy and also physically handwrite a thank you note.
Physically handwriting activates a different type of muscle memory. The mere act of writing on paper starts relaxing your mind. Just Nodding is not enough. Pull out a notepad and write.