We all have some area of our life about which we feel insecure. It might be some aspect of our physical appearance that makes us self-conscious. It may be over-sensitivity about what other people think of us. Or it can be work related, such as debilitating anxiety about performing in some aspect of our job like making an important presentation.
Some people have healthy ways of dealing with their insecurities. They become self-reflective, which enables them remember when they’ve done well in the past. They can also imagine how they’ll apply lessons they’ve learned from overcoming challenges to produce better results in the future. They develop a sense of self-acceptance by recalling their strengths, and focusing on how to use their best qualities to create successful outcomes.
On the other hand, some people let their insecurities dominate the way they deal with life. They’ve become pessimists whose negative outlook pulls themselves and others down into discouragement. They’re critical of others because of their underling feelings of inadequacy when they compare themselves to others, which compels them to put people down so they look better. They often procrastinate because their insecurity inhibits them from even getting started on working toward an objective.
So how can you tell if your level of insecurity poses a problem? Here are 10 symptoms of serious insecurity:
1. You’re afraid of failing in front of others, and will do most anything to avoid being embarrassed. When problems arise, you feel the need to shift the blame.
2. You’re reluctant to take a risk because you’d rather forego success than appear foolish in front of others. You’re reluctant to voice your opinion with people you perceive as having power because you fear antagonizing them.
3. If you have to be involved, you tend to exert control over people and projects. You get anxious about something going wrong if anyone else is in charge.
4. You rarely open up in relationships for fear of people seeing your inadequacies and realizing that you’re an imposter. When positive outcomes do occur, you tend to take the credit.
5. You shy away from successful people to avoid the risk of being shown up. Instead, you surround yourself with mediocre performers who limit the possibilities for growth and great success, but who never make you look bad by comparison.
6. You have times when you berate people for making mistakes. You feel perfectly justified in having belittled them because you want to make it clear that their failure isn’t a reflection on you.
7. You’re resistant to change, believing that maintaining the status quo will keep you safe. Therefore, you dismiss the suggestions made by other people.
8. You have a narrow comfort zone, and deviating from what you know makes you very uncomfortable. Your rigidity confines you to repeating the same behaviors, even if they don’t work very well.
9. You find it hard to compliment others. No one affirmed your worth as you were working to get to this point, and you see no reason to reinforce people for doing what they’re supposed to be doing anyhow.
10. Your viewpoint usually doesn’t match the perspective of other people. You explain what’s going on in the world through a filter of fear, limiting you to fight or flight reactions. Either approach – attacking or avoiding – alienates you from people.
If you see yourself having some of these symptoms, don’t despair. Insecurity can be overcome, and the first step is acknowledging that it’s an issue you’d like to fix. It’s important to enlist the aid of a cognitive behavioral psychologist who can help you change the incapacitating thoughts that are causing your insecurity. The therapist can help you identify the sources of your insecurity, and give you practical suggestions for changing how you manage those areas of your life.
Insecurity can be the biggest obstacle standing in the way of success and satisfaction. Finding strategies to help you focus on positive outcomes, strengths, and collaborative relationships can turn your life around. You deserve to have a sense of security, along with the positive emotions that self-assurance brings to your relationships with other people.
The process of becoming emotionally secure is like getting physically fit. It requires regular exercise to strengthen your muscles. Security is one of your emotional muscles, and having someone teach you the proper exercises can help you shape up your self-confidence. You can learn how to strengthen your mind’s capacity for appreciating the positive in yourself and others.