Most people who know me would probably say that I am an outspoken woman and a little opinionated (okay, maybe more than a ‘little’)… I have strong convictions and beliefs, and I tend to wear them on my sleeve. Loudly!
However, what most people don’t know is that I am incredibly insecure. I’m not even sure that I could pinpoint where it comes from. I guess I’ve learnt how to hide it well. Most of the time…
There are so many things that we women are insecure about. Our bodies, personalities, talents, relationships, the list is endless. I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule, but if you can show me one woman who has not one insecurity and I will eat my hat (or at least swallow my words).
Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all have them; so what can we do about it?
When I first became a parent, I was so overwhelmed with this beautiful new responsibility that I sometimes felt my parenting was in the spotlight. That others kept a keen eye on me to see when, or how, I would fail… Of course, in reality, that was not the case – no one was watching and waiting for to me fail – but our insecurities don’t pay much attention to reality!
The fact is: when we become parents we become vulnerable. And I wasn’t sure how that would sit with me. This hard exterior I had so carefully constructed to guard myself was broken through by a tiny new human being (powerless to defend herself, yet powerful to break through my defenses). Before parenthood, I had carefully hidden my insecurities and taught myself to ignore them – which is, of course, the most ineffective way to even cope with our insecurities, let alone to overcome them. Now I look at my children and think, how can I teach them to cope with and overcome the insecurities they might develop? (Of course my hope is that they will never develop insecurities at all, but come’on let’s keep things honest here.)
Well… Maybe I should cope with and strive to overcome mine first.
The thing about insecurities though, no matter what they are, is that they have these long entangled roots that attaches themselves to us, and finds fertile soil in places we didn’t even know existed. It grows so deeply into our being that it becomes an invisible part of who we are. No one can see it, but we know it’s there. There are moments when these insecurities become so overwhelming that for some of us it can be debilitating!
Having insecurities doesn’t make us weak, and it doesn’t have to define who we are. It just means we’re human! We feel and hurt, sometimes in more ways than we care to admit, life shapes us and our experiences inform what we believe about ourselves. There’s no getting away from that… So how can we lead by example? How can we survive our insecurities in a healthy enough way so that we can guide our children to surviving theirs?
Below is a list of what guided me to surviving mine! (Note to the reader: I said ‘surviving’, not ‘survived’… this process is ongoing, always.)
1.Acknowledging what our insecurities are, and that we are not broken.
How do we recognize our insecurities? Well, you know that sinking feeling of inadequacy that jumps in to take control when you are about to do something for the first time. Or the little voice that laughs at you when you want to step out in faith and achieve something you’ve been dreaming of for years. Or the reflection in the mirror that stares back at you and silently belittles you for looking a little more bedraggled, overweight, or tired than you used do. The quietness that overwhelms, the resentment you feel, the anger, the failure… All these experiences and emotions are born from our insecurities and we need to acknowledge them, rather than to pretend they are not real.
Once we are able to put a name to our insecurities, we will be better able to realize that most of them are situational (either resulting from a past situation, or triggered by a current situation). After all, our experiences (the situations we have been in, or are currently facing) shape our insecurities. And you know what ? This does not mean we are broken, it just means we have some cracks to fill in and, with a little TLC from ourselves and others whom we trust, we can overcome anything.
2. Figuring out where they come from
Picking up on the situational nature of most of our insecurities… We need to try and identify where the roots of our insecurities lie. This might take a little time. But insecurities have a starting point. They can arise during our childhood, adolescence and yes even adulthood. It can stem from so many different experiences, experiences that hurt deeply. In a manner of speaking, insecurities come from a hurtful experience that made a dent in who we are.
There are so many different ways of being hurt; harsh words that were spoken against us, being bullied or taken advantage of by others, falling victim to physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse. The list is endless, really. And, honestly, this is the hardest part… It’s the hardest part, because we have to face it, we have to dig deep and acknowledge that we have been hurt… This was the hardest part for me!
As I’ve said already, I hate being vulnerable. And when you are trying to figure out (if you don’t already know) where these insecurities come from, you have to make yourself vulnerable, and vulnerability hurts. We don’t want to feel pain, so we tend to avoid looking inward in search of the causes behind our hurts. But take courage, once we’ve taken this potentially painful step, we have already climbed the highest mountain in our journey toward coping with and overcoming our insecurities, and we can begin to walk a little more easily again!
3.Choosing to walk a road of forgiveness and healing
Wow, forgiveness? Why should I forgive the person/s that hurt me? Well.. When we hold on to the hurt we have experienced, we are only doing harm to ourselves. When we are faced with difficult and hard decisions, like having to forgive someone, it’s often easier to just walk away and harden ourselves, or to bury our heads in a pillow and cry. However, when we are able to forgive, we are staring our hurt and fear square in the face and saying: “You do not own me! I am stronger than this, and you will not take from me what I deserve to be”.
You can choose to believe that in all this pain, there is healing. Choosing to walk away from our insecurities, by choosing to forgive the ones who caused us hurt, makes us richer and stronger. It gives us freedom to achieve our goals!
4.Accepting and loving who we are
It is vitally important for us to “be in love” with ourselves, not in a vain sort of way (of course), just loving and being proud of who we are! I’ll admit that I’m not there yet (remember I said ‘surviving’, not ‘survived’). But when we are able to name our insecurities and realize that we are not defined by them; when we identify the situations that gave rise to our insecurities and gain some perspective; and when we let go of past hurts by forgiving others we will be set free to love ourselves in a healthy way. Which will enable us to overcome our insecurities.
I’m not saying that there won’t ever be days when those sneaky things creep back in, but once we have made the decision to walk away from any insecurities that hold us back, we can no longer be held hostage by them.
We are then better equipped to teach our sons and daughters, that no matter what obstacles are thrown their way, no matter what insecurities creep in, they will be able to overcome them. So hang in there.